On this page, you will find the following:
It is very important to have regular eye examinations, particularly as you age, or if you have any of the risk factors associated with macular degeneration. In the very early stages of macular degeneration, or if only one eye is affected, there may be no noticeable symptoms, but a doctor can still make an accurate diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment may help control progression of the disease, and stabilize or even restore some vision. People under age 60 should have an eye exam at least every two years; for those over age 60 or at risk for age-related macular degeneration, a physician may recommend more frequent exams. If you have been diagnosed with macular degeneration, continue to regularly visit your doctor for treatment and follow-up.
Many people confuse optometrists and ophthalmologists. An optometrist has a four year post-graduate degree (following a Bachelor of Science degree) and is a Doctor of Optometry. Optometrists examine patients and prescribe treatment, normally non-surgical, such as eyeglasses and contacts. An ophthalmologist has an undergraduate degree, a four-year medical degree and four years of post-graduate training in ophthalmology. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor and can also perform eye surgery. For regular, comprehensive eye exams, an optometrist is a good option, but for those who have been diagnosed with macular degeneration, an ophthalmologist may be better able to treat and manage symptoms. Always consult your eye doctor for professional advice.
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Low Vision Therapists
Low vision therapists work with the visually impaired to identify their personal needs, recommend assistive devices to meet these needs, instruct in the use of such devices, and help make the best use of remaining sight. These therapists can design individual programs that emphasize the activities important to each person. They normally work with a team of people including optometrists and ophthalmologists (who may be low vision specialists). Therapists can help the visually impaired make adjustments with all of the following: daily living activities such as grooming, meal preparation and managing the home; health; communication (for example, use of the computer); job performance; leisure and social activities, including hobbies; and interacting with friends, family and the community.
In consulting a low vision therapist, be as specific as possible about important activities and other sources of pleasure. This will allow the therapist to create the best individual plan for you.
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Many organizations offer assistance to people with low vision:
The following publications from BrightFocus can provide you with more information:
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Last Review: 08/23/13