May 2004
Volume 45, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2004
Driving habits of visually impaired drivers who use bioptic telescopes
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • A.R. Bowers
    Schepens Eye Research Institute, Boston, MA
  • D. Apfelbaum
    Schepens Eye Research Institute, Boston, MA
  • E. Peli
    Schepens Eye Research Institute, Boston, MA
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  A.R. Bowers, None; D. Apfelbaum, None; E. Peli, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support  NIH EY12890
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science May 2004, Vol.45, 4585. doi:
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      A.R. Bowers, D. Apfelbaum, E. Peli; Driving habits of visually impaired drivers who use bioptic telescopes . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2004;45(13):4585.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract: : Purpose: In 34 states in the USA, people with moderately reduced visual acuity are permitted to drive with the aid of a bioptic telescope. Visually impaired people driving without bioptic telescopes have restricted driving habits, but little data is available on driving habits when a bioptic telescope is used. We conducted a comprehensive survey of bioptic drivers, which included bioptic usage patterns, training and driving habits. Here we report the driving habits data and compare our results to those previously noted for visually impaired people driving without bioptic telescopes. Methods: Our questionnaire was administered by telephone interview to 58 drivers across the USA with recent experience of bioptic driving. The driving habits section included items from the Driving Habits Questionnaire (Owsley et al, 1999) covering driving exposure, dependency, difficulty and accidents, with some additional questions specific to driving with a bioptic telescope. Results: Subjects were 47 ± 17 years old, with bioptic driving experience of 3 months to 32 years (median 8 years). Typically they drove about 200 miles per week, mainly to go shopping (83%) and to work (72%). In terms of driving space, over 90% drove as far as neighboring towns, 60% drove outside their state and 40% drove out of their region (> 300 miles). With the exception of driving in rain, subjects reported little or no difficulty with driving in a variety of situations (driving alone, on interstates, in rush hour) and, typically, fewer than 10% reported not driving in a given situation as a result of their vision impairment. Compared to people with age–related macular degeneration driving without bioptic telescopes (DeCarlo et al, 2003), our bioptic drivers over 55 years with central field loss drove greater distances and reported fewer difficulties with driving (p < 0.02). Although the driving space of our bioptic drivers was similar to that of drivers with early cataract (p > 0.1), it was more restricted than for normally sighted drivers (p = 0.01) in the same age range (Owsley et al, 1999). Conclusions:People with reduced visual acuity find bioptic telescopes useful when driving and report significantly enhanced quality of life through being permitted to drive with a bioptic telescope. Comparison to previous surveys suggests that, for visually impaired drivers, use of a bioptic telescope may result in less restricted driving and fewer perceived driving difficulties than when driving without, although self–imposed restriction of driving is greater than for normally sighted drivers in the same age range.

Keywords: low vision 

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