The decision to drive is a very personal one that must be made collaboratively between the individual, the counselor, the eye doctor, bioptic instructor and the Kentucky State police license examiner. Not everyone who meets the criteria to become a candidate for bioptic driving will want to drive, nor will everyone who wants to be able to. Each individual is unique, and there are multiple issues involved with safe driving besides vision.
Kentucky Minimum Statutory Requirements for Bioptic Driving (KRS 186.578)
- Distance visual acuity of 20/200 or better with corrective lenses in the applicant’s better eye
- Distance visual acuity of 20/60 of better using a bioptic telescopic device
- A visual field of 120 degrees horizontally and 80 degrees vertically in the better eye
- No ocular diagnosis or prognosis that indicates the likelihood of significant deterioration of visual acuity or visual fields to a level below the minimum standards above.
Individuals interested in receiving training from the Kentucky Bioptic Driving Program will be required to meet the following criteria:
- Apply for vocational rehabilitation / independent living services and be referred by the counselor.
- Complete all the required paperwork and have the counselor forward to the Program.
- Commit to a regular training schedule. Training will be scheduled at a time that is most advantageous to both the individual and the bioptic-driving instructor.
Order of Priority
Training will be provided in the following order:
- Potential trainees in jeopardy of losing employment
- Potential trainees that have completed their VR training and are ready for employment
- Potential trainees that are having difficulty getting to and from place of training/education
- All other potential trainees
*The Kentucky Bioptic Driving Regulation, 782 KAR 1:070 (5) requires the Program to evaluate the individual to determine if they are a candidate for training. This process must occur before being referred to any private training program. Individuals who are not currently receiving vocational rehabilitation /independent living services or are on the lower priority list and wanting to go to other training programs, will be provided a list of approved "Certified Driver's Training Programs". These programs offer training on a fee-for-service basis. If it is determined the individual is a candidate for training, a copy of the evaluation will be forwarded to the training program selected.
What are the Characteristics of Bioptic Driving Candidates?
The following characteristics best describe an individual who will make a good bioptic driving candidate:
- Stable ocular condition visual acuity between 20/60 and 20/200 inclusive with best standard or conventional correction:
- Full bilateral field of view and absent of any large scotomas (if monocular, at least 120 degrees horizontally and 80 degrees vertically) because safe driving depends on peripheral vision as well as acuity,
- Improved visual acuity via bioptic to meet Kentucky’s 20/60 requirement for distance visual acuity which equals the standard for driver licensing
- Highly motivated, dedicated, hardworking, goal oriented
- Able to accept objective criticism
- Emotionally stable
- Past participation in sports or recreational activities that require eye-lead and head and eye scanning abilities (for example: basketball, baseball, racquetball, bicycling, and rollerblading, skateboarding, and downhill skiing).
A partial list Taken from Huss, C.P., (1988). Model Approach-Low Vision Driver’s Training and Assessment, Journal of Vision Rehabilitation, Vol. 2, No.2, pp.31-44.
The Kentucky Bioptic Driving program consists of the following steps:
- The counselor sends the Kentucky Bioptic Driving Program Application, medical referral information, consumer consent form and the specialized services form to the Bioptic Driving instructor.
- The Bioptic Driving Instructor provides an evaluation. Upon completion of the evaluation a report is sent to the counselor. If the consumer is a candidate for the bioptic driving program, the instructor sends a letter of acceptance to the consumer and a copy to the counselor.
- The counselor authorizes for the bioptic device and faxes it to vision specialist office then scans and e-mails a copy to the bioptic driving instructor. At the same time, the counselor sends a referral to the O&M Specialist. The vision specialist office makes the bioptic then makes an appointment for the consumer to have the bioptic device fitted.
- After receiving the bioptic device, the consumer completes training with the local O&M Specialist to learn to spot with their bioptic effectively. Once the O&M Specialist has completed this training, the counselor and the bioptic driving instructor are verbally notified. After verbal notification is given, the O&M Specialist writes the “O&M Bioptic Device Training Report” and sends it to the counselor and the bioptic driving instructor. Until this report is received, behind-the-wheel (BTW) training cannot begin.
- The Bioptic Driving Instructor arranges for behind-the-wheel (BTW) training with the consumer.
- When the consumer is ready for a road skills test, the bioptic driving instructor schedules a visual re-examination to determine that the consumer continues to meet the visual acuity and visual field standards of the law with the bioptic device. The bioptic driving instructor will contact the counselor so an authorization is sent to the examining vision specialist for the visual re-examination.
- Once the consumer successfully completes the driver’s training program and the visual re-examination, the road skills test is scheduled by the bioptic driving instructor. The consumer brings the visual re-examination report form with them to take the road skills test.
The successful applicant that passes the operator’s license examination given by the Kentucky State Police, is issued by the circuit clerk a restricted (Bioptic) Kentucky driver’s license valid for four (4) years.
However, under the law, the Bioptic operator’s license expires in one year on the last day of the birth month of the license holder KRS 186.579.