Richard Brilliant, OD; Case Series Editor: Jean Marie Pagani, OD


January 21, 2014

The Process and Privilege of Driving

Great importance is placed on driving in modern society. To be denied the right to drive deprives individuals of their vocations and avocations and their freedom of mobility, as well as placing severe limits on many social activities. This is especially true for those who do not live in a city that has a reliable mass transit system accessible to visually impaired individuals.

Driving is a complex process that involves many sensory inputs -- vision and hearing -- as well as cognitive and physical abilities. Driver's licenses are issued to a wide range of physically impaired individuals. The visually impaired, however, are trapped within the confines of the high visual acuity standards established by regulatory agencies. Although these standards may vary, most states require best visual acuities of 20/40 or better to qualify to take the driver's examination. This denies many individuals who are visually impaired but with stable visual acuity and normal visual fields the opportunity to take a driving test and qualify for a driver's license.

Patients with oculocutaneous or ocular albinism fall into this category. Like individuals without visual impairment, no two low-vision individuals are identical. Even with the same visual acuity, one person may be a good candidate for driving, whereas another cannot compensate in this complex process. Each patient must be looked at individually with respect to the privilege of driving with or without the aid of bioptic telescopes.

The patient described in this case was able to obtain his driver's license and maintain his quality of life (in a rural area) by using the bioptic telescope both for driving and for work-related tasks.


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