Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

BiOptic Driving Network

BiOptic Driving Network is a not for profit network concerned with developing/advancing the use of BiOptics for driving. The BiOptic telescope is a useful driving aid for people with conditions that reduce resolution or visual acuity while maintaining the peripheral vision substantially in tact. Such conditions include albinism, nystagmus, cataracts, and corneal diseases, as well as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and other conditions that affect the central macular area.

A BiOptic is a lens system with a telescope attached to a pair of glasses, above (BTL is below) one's normal line of sight. This allows a trained user the opportunity to detect objects or movement within his/her driving scene using the wide field of view available through the regular spectacle lens and to resolve fine details such as road signs and traffic lights by glancing briefly and intermittently into and out of the miniature telescopic unit. BiOptic lens systems used for visual assistance in the driving task are available in a number of different styles, sizes, and powers: the latter most commonly ranging from 2X - 5.5X ( " X " referring to the strength or power of magnification of the telescopic unit).

It was William Feinbloom, O.D. who coined the name "BiOptic" and the abbreviation BTS in the 1950's, when he first designed the lens. He used the abbreviation BTS for "BiOptic telescopic system" Dr. Feinbloom defined a BiOptic as "a bi-visual optical system which mounts a miniature aperture telescope in the superior portion of a carrier lens enabling the user to rapidly change fixation from the carrier lens to the telescopic system." More information may be found in Dr. Feinbloom's many publications, in professional journals published during the 60's, and 70's, until his death during the 80's. He first reported on the BiOptic in 1958. Also, Schapero's Diction of Visual Science defines "a bi-visual system consisting of a small aperture telescope to magnify distant objects mounted in a portion of the patient's normal distance correction lens."

Some jurisdictions in the US restrict the power of the telescopes permitted. Of course, not all BiOptics are used for driving. The use determines the power, working distance and location on the carrier lens.

Click this link to learn more about bioptic driving by visiting the BiOptic Driving Network:

Book on Driving with Low Vision

If you want to pursue how you can continue to drive safely, there is a book called Driving with Confidence: A Practical Guide to Driving with Low Vision. The book is a practical guide that offers information and guidance for those driving with low vision on how to retain their driver's license.

One reviewer stated this about the book:

"The guide urges readers to educate themselves about their state's DMV vision policy, investigate the various aids and devices available for vision-impaired drivers, and then come to their own conclusion as to whether they should be behind the wheel."

If this book sounds interesting to you, check it out by visiting is a site created jointly by the staff of the Low Vision Centers of Indiana and a panel of Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialists. They plan to make it a national resource on bioptic driving. The site is designed to educate the public, legislators, educators and driving professionals on bioptic driving. It emphasizes the professional approach and need for extensive training. Please note an extensive section on behind-the-wheel training including in-car videos will be added over the next few weeks.

Click this link to visit

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