04:55pm Sunday 23 February 2020

Low-vision center helps woman stay behind the wheel

The 73-year-old grandmother worried for several months whether or not she would even get her license renewed. And when the day came, she credited UNMC’s Weigel Williamson Center for Visual Rehabilitation for helping her.

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Bioptic telescopes have helped Peggy Campbell keep her driver’s license.

That’s why one of the first things she did after she passed the test was call the staff at the center with the good news.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with how they helped me,” said Campbell, who lives in Lincoln.

Trouble seeing the signs

Campbell suffers from cone dystrophy, a retinal disease which decreases her central vision much like macular degeneration. While Campbell, who wears trifocals, doesn’t have struggle to navigate her home, cook dinner or play bridge with friends, the cone dystrophy does make it hard for her to drive.

“You have a hard time reading road signs until you are right on top of them,” she said.

Referred to UNMC

She was very concerned about passing the vision test at the DMV. Then her optometrist suggested Campbell go to the Weigel Williamson Center where she learned about bioptic telescopes.

A retired medical laboratory technologist, Campbell felt confident using the microscope-like lens that is mounted at the top of her glasses.

How the telescopes work

Campbell worked with occupational therapist, Evy Katz, to learn how to use them while driving.

“You don’t drive looking through the bioptic telescope all the time. I look through the regular prescription part of my glasses most of the time while driving,” Campbell said. “But when I need to read a road sign, I’ve learned how to tip my head down and quickly look through the telescope to see it.”

Armed for success

After her therapy and practice with the device, Campbell entered the DMV with her bioptic telescope and permission slip in hand from Dr. John Shepherd, medical director of the center.

“I was nervous during the driving test, we drove through the neighborhood around the DMV and then onto a four lane boulevard, but I passed and they didn’t even make me take the written test,” Campbell said.

Now she is able to join her friends for bridge, go to the grocery store or to church whenever she wishes.

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