What is Low Vision?

People with reduced vision that cannot be corrected with surgery, glasses and prescription lenses, or contact lenses are referred to as having “low vision.”  Common causes of low vision are macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, and Glaucoma.  Brain damage, head trauma and stroke may also result in visual impairment.  Patients in these circumstances may benefit from a “low vision” exam with a Low Vision Specialist.

Low Vision Exams

The goal of the low vision exam at Relf Eyecare Specialists is to optimize a patient’s vision to enhance their lifestyle. A low vision exam does not replace the medical eye exam performed by an eye care professional.  During a low vision exam we work with the patient to identify certain lifestyle function goals.  For example, a patient with macular degeneration would like to be able to read their mail.  A special pair of reading glasses may help them to do that.  The same patient would like something that would help them to see a menu in a restaurant. In that case a small lighted hand held magnifier may be of service to them.

Low vision exams include special lettered charts that enable the doctor to more accurately measure the patient’s current visual acuity.  A special refraction is performed using a trial frame which are glasses with slots to hold different lens powers and loose lens that are switched in and out until the optimal eye correction is achieved.   At times the doctor may order a visual field test to be performed so that the doctor can access the location of the patient’s working vision.

Low Vision Aids

Different sight enhancing low vision aids are chosen by the doctor for the patient to try in the office.  The devices are chosen on the basis of what lifestyle function needs improvement.  Each type of low vision problem requires a different therapeutic approach.  For example, an illuminated stand magnifier would be used to enhance recipe reading.  A closed circuit television could help a patient read the newspaper or a small telescope mounted backward on a pair of glasses might enable a patient with retinitis pigmentosa to have a wider field of vision when watching their grandchild play sports.

A treatment plan is created at the conclusion of the exam.  There may be a referral to other vision rehabilitation professionals for specialized training, such as Lighthouse for Vision Loss or State Services for the Visually Impaired.  There is training available for computer use, power tool use, cooking, etc.…

Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a Low Vision Specialist at Relf EyeCare.

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