April 9, 2015 Administrator

Palm Harbor man told he would never drive again, now drives thanks to eye doctor

DUNEDIN, Fla. – A man from Palm Harbor, who was told he would never drive again, is now driving thanks to a Tampa Bay area optometrist.

In 2004, David Hinkle was issued his learner’s permit, but when he took his driver’s license test, he failed the vision portion of the test.

That’s when Hinkle’s parents took him to see an optometrist, but she also said he would never drive again.

“At the first point, when my permit got taken away, it really tore me apart,” said Hinkle.

But that answer was unacceptable, so Hinkle and his parents looked for another option.

During their search for a different answer, Hinkle’s parents’ hair dresser mentioned Dr. Ed Huggett, a low-vision specialist located in the Tampa Bay area.

Huggett diagnosed Hinkle’s problem as a hemianopsia. Hemianopsia is a condition where a patient is unable to see in the right or left half of their field of vision. This condition is very common in people who have had a stroke or head trauma.

“In fact, many people who have a stroke are incorrectly told they cannot drive again,” said Huggett. “But with the correct rehabilitation, we’re able to help them meet the requirements of the Department of Motor Vehicles and they’re able to drive again.”

The way Huggett corrected Hinkle’s hemianopsia was no different.

“To correct the problem, we had to start out by using specially designed glasses that actually have a prism in them to move the usable field of vision centrally and the non-seeing area out of the way,” said Huggett. “While it does take some time, similar to wearing braces on teeth, we are able to permanently correct the vision of the eyes and help the patient to see more normally.”

After three years of wearing the prism glasses, Hinkle was able to drive again. At first the DMV said he could only drive during the day time, but after further vision tests and letters written by Huggett to the DMV, Hinkle was cleared to drive both day and night, which is important, since he works nights at the Sheraton Sand Key.

“He’s a miracle worker,” Hinkle said when referring to Huggett. “I went from having bad vision and not being able to drive, to driving and I no longer need any glasses, as my vision has been corrected.”

On April 10, 2015 Hinkle is scheduled to visit Huggett for a recheck, though Huggett expects for Hinkle to be alright.

If you or someone you know suffers from low vision, visit lowvisionsupport.org for more information to learn about how Low Vision Support can help.  You can also call directly at 727.463.2579.