Are you a low-vision driver?
Bioptic driving – are you, or do you know someone who is losing their eyesight or born with low vision, and wants to continue to drive?
In this interview Robert Pepper talks to me, Belinda O’Connor, founder and director of Bioptic Drivers Australia. At the time I had only been driving for three years and just completed a four wheel drive course with the ACT-based Southern
Tablelands 4×4 Club. Something I thought I would never do!
At age 43 I got my driver’s licence. But had more people known about the bioptic technology I could have started driving at age 16 with my peers and not endured a life with the barriers of not driving. I am now making up for lost time to learn all things driving I always thought I could do, if given the opportunity and assistance with assistive technology! So, what are bioptics?
There are two types: a keplerian telescope made by Ocutech and a Galilean telescope made by BITA. The device is like a telescope/periscope that brings images closer to your view. It will assist people with central vision loss conditions so unfortunately if your vision condition is field loss this assistive technology device cannot help. Although the device can be used for everyday activities, to use it for driving the user spends about 80-95% of their view looking through their usual glasses and 5-20% of the time looking through the bioptic. The reason it is called a bioptic is that are two views that can be seen at the same time. So when the user drops their chin to look through the bioptic, they can at the same time also be looking through their glasses. This means they see both in the distance(though the bioptic) and their peripheral through the glasses – that is why it is called a bi-optic meaning two concurrent views.
Check out the interview where I talk to Robert about the bioptic and what I needed to do to accommodate my rare eyesight condition to do four wheel driving.
If you want to find out more about bioptic driving in Australia, follow these links:
Bioptic Drivers Australia (BDA)