Bioptic glasses (Driving)

Losing your ability to safely drive due to low vision can be extremely demoralizing, as it greatly limits your personal freedom. There is good news though, and that is that there are specialized bioptic glasses designed for use while driving that can help you reclaim that independence and quality of life, despite your low vision. There are states that allow special permits for driving with bioptic glasses, enabling you to drive as you wish. 

Bioptic glasses (Driving) in Olympia

What are Bioptic glasses?

Many are familiar with magnifying glasses as they can help people with low vision zoom in on what you’re trying to see. The problem is that magnifying glasses can only be used to view objects nearby. What if someone wants to view objects that are at a distance? That’s where the telescope comes in because it is a visual aid that magnifies objects that are at a distance, enabling you to see clearly even if you are looking at something far away. 

Bioptic glasses are worn like regular glasses, and they have a telescope mounted on the top part of one or both lenses. The advantage of having the telescope only on the top part of the lens is that you can choose when to use the telescope if you are looking into the distance by slightly tilting your head downwards. When you look directly ahead or downwards you are looking through the regular part of the lens, known as the carrier lens, which has your regular glasses prescription. 

American Family Vision Clinic

What are the challenges of driving with low vision?

If you struggle with low vision, you may become accustomed to walking very close to signs or various objects in order to see them, however when you’re driving if you wait until you get close to something in order to see it, it’s most likely too late as driving demands a high level of awareness and preparedness. Additionally, in order to get your driver’s license you have to pass an eye exam which can be challenging with low vision. Many people can have these issues solved by using bioptic telescope glasses which are allowed in certain states if you pass the requirements for a special permit. 

How can bioptic glasses help while driving?

The bioptic telescope glasses are ideal for driving because driving has so many visual demands at various distances which makes it a challenging activity for someone with low vision. When you drive you need to be able to see up close in order to be aware of what is directly in front of you on the road, and on the dashboard. In addition, it is crucial to be able to see clearly at a distance in order to view the signs up ahead and to be able to see the roads and cars in the distance. Bioptic telescope glasses can help you achieve clear vision at all distances, despite your low vision diagnosis.

While driving, most people find that the majority of the time they are looking through the carrier lens and only 2-3% of the time do they tilt their head to use the telescope. The telescope is similar to using the side and rear view mirrors, in that it’s only used for short periods of time, but it’s still extremely helpful. A study was done on people who drive with bioptic telescopes and 90% said that they would continue driving with the bioptic glasses, even if it wasn’t required by the state in order to drive.

How can bioptic glasses help while driving?
How do you know if you need bioptic glasses for driving?

How do you know if you need bioptic glasses for driving?

When you want to get your driver’s license, you take an eye exam at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). If you don’t pass that test, you go to the eye doctor who does a more extensive eye exam. If you do not meet the general visual acuity requirements to get your driver’s license, your eye doctor will evaluate if you can benefit from using bioptic telescope glasses. Some states have a system where if you pass the necessary requirements you can get a permit to drive with the bioptic glasses. If you have any questions about this process and to find out if you are eligible to use the bioptic glasses for driving, please call American Family Vision Clinic at (360) 491-2121 to book an appointment.

How do you know if you need bioptic glasses for driving?

Low Vision Consultation

We welcome you to come to American Family Vision Clinic where Dr. Levi Zurcher will do a full low vision eye exam and assessment. If you are a candidate for driving with bioptic telescope glasses, Dr. Zurcher will discuss with you the entire process and will answer your questions. Our staff will be happy to guide you every step of the way from learning how to order the bioptic glasses to training how to drive with them. It would be an honor to be a part of your journey in finding your independence with the ability to drive using the bioptic glasses.

Dr. Zurcher cartoon


Bioptic glasses are an extremely helpful low vision device which is especially useful while driving, as it allows the wearer to quickly switch to a higher magnification to focus on specific distant objects. If you have low vision and you are interested in learning more about bioptic glasses, we invite you to contact American Family Vision Clinic at (360) 491-2121 to schedule an appointment for a low vision eye exam and consultation, or you can click here to Book an Appointment . Patients with low vision visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of low vision services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
1 2 3



How Does Vision Therapy Improve Reading Ability?

According to the American Optometric Association, approximately 80% of what a child learns in school is acquired through vision, and […]

Read More

What Causes Bloodshot Eyes? Understanding the Causes and Treatments

Bloodshot eyes can be alarming, but they are not always a cause for concern. In this blog, we will discuss […]

Read More

Ocular Rosacea: Understanding the Symptoms and Best Treatment Options

Rosacea is a skin condition that affects many people. While it is commonly found on the face, rosacea can also […]

Read More
see all blogs

Contact Us To Amplify Your EyeCare

American Family Vision Clinic Logo

Working Hours




400 Yauger Way SW. Bldg 1, Ste A Olympia, WA 98502
(360) 459-1097
Website Accessibility Policy
Safety protocols page
privacy policy
For Patients
Call Us
eyefile-adduserphone-handsetcalendar-fullarrow-uparrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram