Low Vision results from reduced ability to see clearly or reduced visual field, or side vision, which glasses, contacts, or surgery cannot correct. Eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma are common causes of low vision. Any level of visual impairment may impair a person’s ability to perform daily tasks. This can be very frustrating and isolating.
When we perform a Low Vision Evaluation, we ask patients what activities they would like to be able to do again. This might include activities like reading mail or bank statements. Others may want to look at pictures of loved ones or read recipes. Driving is also a popular activity of daily life that may be impacted. We then use various tests to determine what level a patient’s vision is currently to determine what types of magnifiers or other devices would be useful to reach the sight goals.
Low Vision aides cannot return vision to “normal”, but they can make things bigger or provide better contrast. Some magnifiers are hand-held, and some are hands-free. Some are lighted and some are not. Some devices are even digital and very easy to use. These digital magnifiers can provide a very wide range of magnification and allow the ability to change the background of reading material. You can take a newspaper that typically has poor contrast (dark gray print on a light gray background) and make it appear as if it is very black print on a white background! Some are larger and remain on a tabletop and some are small and portable. Our office has an extensive library of these devices so that our patients can try them in-office before purchasing. We provide training for the patient and family members on use as well. We always recommend high-quality devices with excellent warranties. Some patients might have vision plan benefits that partially cover the cost of devices.
In addition to devices, we have expertise that allows us to provide tips on things like proper lighting to reduce glare and resources for safely navigating indoor and outdoor areas.
Drs Duzan and Hennig provide Low Vision services, usually at our Charleston office. We can, however, provide them in Mattoon if requested. Reduced vision can be very frustrating, but we enjoy helping people use their vision to its fullest potential. As technology is ever-changing, our doctors stay aware of the newest options available for our patients.