North Carolina Drivers Gain Bioptic Priveledges

6:34 PM

Imagine a world where your vision limited you to the point that you could no longer pass your driver's test.  So many of my patients ask me if they are legally blind, but the truth of legally blind is that you CAN'T get better vision with glasses or contact lenses.  No matter what prescription is in your glasses or contact lenses, your vision is severely limited.  In these cases, your visual abilities can keep you from performing routine tasks like driving a car or crossing the street.

Bioptic telescope via

For the visually impaired in my home state of North Carolina, a law just passed allowing drivers with certain visual restrictions to use a bioptic telescope.  A bioptic is a small telescope that is placed on a person's glasses lens to allow them to focus better at a far range.  The device works for quick spotting, allowing the driver to see a distant target in their field of view and then return to using their full range of vision in their glasses.  It can mean seeing a street sign earlier and getting into the proper lane without risking sharp cuts in front of other traffic.  Using a bioptic does take training, and finding a low vision specialist in your area is important in fitting and learning the proper use of the device.

Here are the requirements for a driver's license with bioptic use in my state.  To get the license, the applicant must meet ALL requirements:
  • vision of 20/200 in the better seeing eye and 70 degrees of peripheral visual field
  • vision of 20/70 or better through the bioptic
  • report from approved eye care provider
  • must pass a road test with the bioptic with the NCDMV

North Carolina is just one of 10 states that allow bioptics to be used to pass a driver's test.  Please ask your optometrist if your state has these allowances, or what allowances can be made for the visually impaired.  Every state has their own unique legislation in these areas.  If you or someone you know if visually impaired, please know that there are many services and aids available to make vision functional in their world!  Just visit your doctor to start learning more about specialists and services in your area!

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3 comments

  1. Where do you go in North Carolina to get training to drive with a bioptic device? Does Young Drivers offer this?

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    1. The best place I know to get this training is at Duke Eye Center with their low vision specialists, Dr. Scheiner and Dr. Whitaker. https://www.dukehealth.org/treatments/eye-care/low-vision-rehabilitation

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  2. My son is 16 years old and is currently a patient of Dr. Hoffman's at Metrolina Association for the Blind in Charlotte. He is in the process of getting bioptic lenses for driving. He just finished his 30 hours of classroom driver's education. He will be referred by Dr. Hoffman to the Driver Rehablitation Services in McLeansville, NC (near Greensboro)for the driving portion using the bioptic lenses. It is a very long and expensive process, and we have just started. Dr. Hoffman was a great source of information and evaluation to first determine if he was a candidate for the program.

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