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Therapy for Low Vision: The Role of Optometrists

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  • Narrator: Therapy for low vision Part 1: The role of optometrists

    The symptoms can be subtle.

    Jared Davies, Doctor of optometry: Often when people first find out that they have macular degeneration, they didn't even know they had a problem. Because macular degeneration first is very subtle and makes subtle changes in your vision, sometimes not even noticeable. So we can see changes in the back of the eye in the macular region where the basically the cells are separating, or there's different fluids that deposit in that area and causes changes in your business that can cause warped vision or wavy vision. It can also cause you to have small spots of vision loss that you might not necessarily notice.

    Narrator: What's the most common reaction to a diagnosis of macular degeneration?

    Jared Cooper, Doctor of optometry: The biggest thing is, people are fearful. Unfortunately, a lot of them don't know what their options are. And that's the scariest thing is thinking that you're going to be inhibited from doing the things that you wanted to

    Narrator: How do you help someone who has macular degeneration?

    Dr. Cooper: I need to know what their goals are. I need to understand more what the things that they are, they enjoy the things that they want to do. Some people enjoy watching TV a lot. So we're going to catered more towards that some people are really into reading books. And so those looking at specific activities that they want to continue doing is the way that we progress into helping them with their vision needs. And the most important thing is just letting people know that if they are diagnosed with an eye condition or an eye disease, that life isn't over, that we can keep them seeing and still doing the things that they want to.

    Narrator: Accommodative devices.

    Dr. Davies: When people have certain sight diseases and have progressed to the point where they do have vision loss, there's a lot of things that we can still do. There are accommodated devices like glasses, telescopes magnifiers, that we can use to try and help improve their quality of life. And often someone is distraught by their lack of vision when they don't know how much we can do to improve it. There's also rehabilitative techniques that we can use to help train them to use the vision that they have left and be able to use it to their best potential.

    Dr. Cooper: And many times we're going actually into people's homes, telling them about how different lighting can affect how they're seeing, we also do therapy that can help people be able to start to adapt more to their devices, there's a little bit of a learning curve, just like anything, and we have to teach people how to use them.

    This is something that you implement quite a bit, it's a bioptic telescope. It's a really neat device. And how it works is that we've got several different lenses to get people to see the things that they want to hear. On the bottom, we incorporate a regular glasses prescription. And up here we have this telescopic correction. What's neat about this is that it allows people to be able to see the depth down here. So the telescope is going to be things very close, it's going to enlarge it tremendously. So it gives them the option of when to look through the telescope and when not to we also want to protect the eyes from UV light. Once we have macular degeneration that started we don't want to just arbitrarily exposure your eyes to more UV light, we're finding that the there's a significant amount of progression that it can occur with that. Many of the glasses that are made for people with macular degeneration will have yellow filters inside of it. That not only makes it so you can see better if you have macular degeneration. But again, it protects those delicate nerve fibers room have an exposure and damage that can occur from just being in the sun.

    Narrator: Tablets and E readers.

    Dr. Cooper: One thing that I do find that my patients that are in their 80s have utilized that's been pretty neat, as many of them do very well with a Kindle or an iPad. As far as being able to read you can download books, you can enlarge it, you can make it very big and you can get about any book that you want to. And then with the aid of an adaptive device, as well as having something like a Kindle or iPad, be able to read the books that you want to fact many of the areas will actually let you depending on what city you live in, can download newspapers and all sorts of things right down to that device. And the patients that I know that I've used them have all done it with great success. So we're using more and more.

    Narrator: The role of research.

    Dr. Davies: scientific research is very important for eye disease, especially for the areas of macular degeneration and glaucoma. Those diseases that we don't know exactly a cure for at this point. And every time we do a scientific research study, we find something that's slightly better for preventing it so the researchers upgrade important.

    Narrator: For more on how to cope with the diagnosis of glaucoma or macular degeneration visit our website call or write us: 800-437-2423;

Don't Miss Out

In this video, various optometrists discuss the various forms of accommodations and tools for individuals with macular degeneration, such as tablets, e-readers, and specially designed glasses.