The CDC estimates that of people 40 years of age and older in the United States, 1 million are blind and 3 million have visual impairment, even when wearing their best corrected glasses or contact lens prescription. This number is expected to grow in coming years. Leading causes of visual impairment include glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Regular exams with your usual optometrist or ophthalmologist are critical to diagnose and treat these causes of visual impairment in order to prevent vision loss. However, for patients with reduced vision that impedes on their daily life activities, a visit with an additional specialist may be important to help them continue to achieve all of their goals. This additional doctor provides low vision rehabilitation.
At a low vision exam, the doctor will start out by asking many questions about what activities you have difficulty performing in your day-to-day life and in which specific scenarios you experience difficulty with . Every patient is different, so asking these specific questions helps the doctor to understand what unique interventions might help you. The doctor will check your glasses prescription to make sure that your current glasses provide the best possible vision, and will also perform a few other tests to assess how you function with your vision. Usually, eye health is not assessed at this visit, so dilation drops aren’t needed.
After assessing how you are able to use your vision, the doctor will evaluate different interventions that may help you to use your vision more effectively. This might include very strong reading glasses, prescription strength magnifying glasses, telescopes, special sunglasses, or electronic devices. You may receive advice about how to improve visibility of your cellphone or computer screen. You may even be referred for special training or case management. Sometimes two patients with very similar vision may need different things to help them use that vision. The doctor will help find unique solutions which best meet your needs.
After having an initial low vision evaluation, the doctor will work with you to develop a plan to incorporate low vision strategies into your daily life. They may ask to follow up with you in a few months so that they can see how you’re doing with your new low vision strategies and determine if any of these strategies need to be added or adjusted. The doctor will continue to work with you until you feel content with how you are functioning. After that, if your vision were to change in the future or if you started doing a new activity that gave you difficulty, you could always come back to the low vision specialist.
Since low vision recommendations are unique to each person, there is no such thing as having vision that is “too good” or “too bad” for low vision. There are so many different strategies that can help patients with all levels of vision, they may just require you to try something different from what you’re used to. There’s always something we can do to help you function better with the vision you have.
Here at Solinsky Eyecare, we provide low vision services out of our Enfield, West Hartford, and Wallingford offices. Call 860-233-2020 to schedule your appointment today, or ask your regular eye care provider if they think a low vision evaluation may be helpful for you!