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What are Bioptics?

By T. Carrier
Updated May 17, 2024
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Bioptics refers to the need for advanced magnification devices for some visual disturbances like retina or optic nerve degeneration. Specialized devices greatly enhance the size of viewed images in bioptic treatments. These devices can improve near-sight and most long-sight vision problems but cannot affect the underlying eye condition.

Certain visual diseases can damage the retina or the optic nerve, and both of these eye parts are vital for producing clear vision. Glaucoma, for example, is a condition resulting from high eye pressure that negatively impacts the optic nerve. Macular degeneration, on the other hand, affects the portion of the eye that reflects images: the retina. Other disorders like albinism and diabetes can also result in poor vision. Symptoms of an eye impairment may include gradual loss of vision, sensitivity to light, and abnormalities in the eye's color or pigmentation. Various factors can cause these conditions, with some of the most common being aging, genetic susceptibility, and long-term eye strain.

Once injury has occurred in essential portions of the eye, measures beyond regular eye glasses are needed. Conditions that result in poor vision disturb seeing by stripping away an individual’s ability to note details in visual objects. For example, when the middle part of the retina — or the macula — deteriorates, a hole develops. This hole blocks individuals from viewing small objects fully, thus making details of objects like faces or words blurry.

Bioptics work by magnifying small images so that they are large enough to compensate for the holes in one’s vision. The devices used in bioptics can be used for near objects like words in a book or for far-away objects like road signs. Various degrees of vision-enhancement lenses, corrective lenses, prisms, and other magnifying devices are utilized. For example, devices known as bioptic telescopes can assist with both short-range and long-range vision. These miniature telescopes typically either go around the head like a pair of goggles or attach to eyeglasses. Their lenses possess different magnification levels and can be focused to either magnify images at a distance or at a close range, and their capabilities can also be turned on and off at will.

Use of bioptics is not ideal in all circumstances. Some regions prohibit an individual from driving while utilizing bioptic glasses, for example. Less severe visual problems that just occasionally produce an out-of-focus image can usually be treated with regular eye devices like glasses or contact lens. Typical seeing aides may also be used in conjunction with bioptics to meet all visual needs. In addition, extreme visual disorder cases may necessitate measures beyond bioptics treatments, such as surgical intervention.

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