Bioptic telescope users rate high on driving safety test

May 9, 2012

Despite moderate central vision loss, 96% of drivers who used a bioptic telescope were rated safe to drive following an on-road driving performance test. These findings may guide the assessment and training of bioptic drivers and allow more of them to maintain independence, employment, and mobility within their communities, said Joanne M. Wood, PhD.

Fort Lauderdale, FL-Despite moderate central vision loss, 96% of drivers who used a bioptic telescope were rated safe to drive following an on-road driving performance test. These findings may guide the assessment and training of bioptic drivers and allow more of them to maintain independence, employment, and mobility within their communities, said Joanne M. Wood, PhD.

“This study shows that many drivers with moderate central vision loss have the ability and potential for safe driving using the bioptic telescope after appropriate training,” said Dr. Wood, School of Optometry, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.

Dr. Wood and colleagues designed a test of 23 bioptic drivers licensed to drive in Birmingham, AL, where the test took place, and 23 visually normal age-matched controls; the bioptic drivers had mean binocular visual acuity of 20/60 to 20/200, and their mean age was 32 years.

The 14.6-mile driving assessment included both suburban and city driving, starting in a church parking lot and progressing to intersections not controlled by traffic signals and controlled-access highways. The test participants drove a dual-brake vehicle with a certified driving rehabilitation specialist in the front seat and two raters in the back seat who evaluated 24 driving maneuvers associated with eight driving behaviors, such as scanning, lane position, steering steadiness, speed, and obeying signals.

Significant differences between the bioptic drivers and the controls were found for lane positioning, traffic light recognition, and steering steadiness. However, there were no significant differences between the groups for most of the driving performance measures, Dr. Wood said.

She also noted that the bioptic drivers made more right head movements and tended to drive over the right edge or lane marking more often.

In the overall safety ratings, only one bioptic driver was classified as unsafe; all drivers in the control group were rated safe.

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