Like most young adults, Christopher Depace wanted to get his driver’s license but found himself initially unable to do so because of ocular albinism and congenital nystagmus, conditions affecting his vision.
Enter Dr. James Hill, director of low vision services at Medical University of South Carolina’s (MUSC) Storm Eye Institute in Charleston. Hill and his colleagues were able to offer Depace a chance at being able to drive via a bioptic telescope, according to a university press release.
The device blends prescription lenses with a tiny telescope and functions similarly to binoculars, the release said. Hill said in the release that the bioptic telescope’s mechanics allow users to rely on their own vision for most tasks, but enables them to spot traffic signals, signage and objects more clearly from a distance.
The path to Depace's milestone was not simple; while many southeastern states already permit visually impaired motorists to obtain restricted licenses, South Carolina was not among them, the release said. By working with state lawmakers, advocates were able to facilitate a similar law in 2016.
Depace stands to become the institute’s first such patient to obtain his driver’s license.
“I’ll be able to get from point A to point B without relying on my parents or public transportation,” Depace said in the release. “The freedom to be able to go to job interviews and getting to hang out with my friends makes it all worth it.”