Some people may have vision loss due to a variety of medical problems that can not be cured with medical or traditional optometric treatment.
The term “low vision” describes moderate to severe vision loss due to birth defect, injury or aging. Such vision loss, also known as visual impairment, cannot be corrected using eyeglasses or contact lenses. Our doctors can help patients with low vision by prescribing special treatment to enhance remaining vision, using special telescopic glasses, microscopic glasses, illuminated magnifiers, video magnification systems, and rehabilitation therapy.
If a family member has suffered severe visual loss, you should make an appointment for an evaluation by our doctors.
Low vision can result from the loss of central or peripheral vision and can exist in varying degrees. It is important to understand that visual acuity alone is not a good predictor of the problems that visual impairment can cause. Someone with relatively good acuity (e.g., 20/40) can have difficulty functioning, while someone with worse acuity (e.g., 20/200) might not be having any real problems. Most individuals classified as “blind” actually have remaining sight and, thanks to developments in the field of low vision rehabilitation, can make good use of it and improve their quality of life.
The primary cause of low vision is often one of these eye diseases that our doctors can diagnose:
- Macular Degeneration: aging-related blurred vision and central blind spot
- Diabetic Retinopathy: central blind spot or blurred central or side vision
- Retinitis Pigmentosa: night blindness and severely reduced side vision
- Glaucoma: damage to optic nerve which can result in vision impairment
- Acquired Brain Injury: vision lost or damaged by head injuries, brain damage or stroke
Optometrists who specialize in low vision care are skilled in the examination, treatment and management of patients with visual impairments not fully treatable by medical, surgical or conventional eyewear or contact lenses. Each type of low vision problem requires a different therapeutic approach. A thorough examination by an optometrist, which will also include tests to determine the patient’s current vision status, will result in the development of a treatment plan. Treatment plans may include prescription of glasses, specialized optical systems, therapeutic filters, non-optical options, and/or video magnification, and the prescription of rehabilitation therapy to effectively maximize visual functioning for activities of daily living.
Therapy may also be prescribed to enhance remaining visual skills and may also include referral to other vision rehabilitation professionals, as indicated. In addition, there are numerous other products to assist those with a vision impairment, such as large-type books, magazines, and newspapers, books-on-tape, talking wristwatches, self-threading needles, and more. People with low vision can also be taught a variety of techniques to perform daily activities with what vision remains. There are also government and private programs that offer educational and vocational counseling, occupational therapy, rehabilitation training, and more.
A wide variety of options are available to help people with low vision live and/or work more effectively, efficiently, and safely. Most people can be helped with one or more low vision treatment options. Unfortunately, only about 20-25 percent of those who could benefit from these treatment options have been seen by a low vision optometrist. Our doctors are optometrists who specialize in low vision care, so if you or someone you know suffers from a vision impairment, be sure to contact us at Wyomissing Optometric Center 610-374-3134.