Low Vision Care
Individuals experiencing reductions in their vision, due either from genetic, disease, or injury causes, will benefit from visiting two eyecare providers:
- Medical Eye Specialist: the ophthalmologist who will manage the disease aspects of their vision condition
- Low Vision Specialist: either an optometrist or ophthalmologist who will help them maximize their remaining useful vision
What kinds of daily vision problems can be helped with low vision care?
- Loss of detail vision for activities such as reading, recognizing faces, seeing signs, driving, the classroom, TV and computer screens
- Loss of side vision for walking, reading and hand-eye coordination
Special devices, called low vision aids, can often allow individuals to gain much useful vision. These range from simple magnifiers to complex optical and electronic systems. Low vision experts perform special testing to determine the optimal magnification and type of device(s) appropriate for the individual’s needs and functioning goals.
If you don’t already visit a low vision specialist, ask your eyecare provider for a referral or click on ‘Find a Low Vision Specialist’ to search for a provider nearest you. Please note that not all low vision specialists can be found on this provider listing.
You can also search online for a low vision specialist in your area using the following terms”
- “low vision specialist”
- “low vision aids,”
- “low vision care,”
- “vision loss,”
- “Vision Rehabilitation.”
The Low Vision Appointment
A low vision exam is provided by a professional that specializes in low vision care. In addition to reviewing your medical history, the low vision specialist will explore the visual difficulties you are having and what activity goals you desire to improve.
Goals you may want to improve may include:
- seeing at a distance,
- seeing television, movies, theater
- visiting museums and exhibits
- doing household and kitchen activities,
- using the computer,
- attending school
- attending religious activities,
- seeing best in the work environment,
- engaging in social activities with family and friends
- traveling independently and perhaps to even include driving.
All of these functional goals may be able to be addressed with low vision care.
Low vision care is a process—it includes testing one’s current level of vision, identifying and evaluating appropriate treatment options to address the individual’s goals and determining the training and practice required to become efficient with the choices selected. Just as learning to ride a bike or read took time and practice, learning to use low vision aids usually requires patience and perseverance.
Information about the prognosis for the individual’s specific vision loss along with counseling for coping with the emotional aspects of visual impairment is an important and valuable part of providing comprehensive low vision care.