WHEN LOW VISION MAKES YOUR PATIENTS “˜LOW’

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For TV viewing issues, Eschenbach’s MaxTV offers excellent magnification.

Talking about the psychological impact is as critical as the visual effects when speaking to your low vision patients.

Research has demonstrated that patients experiencing low vision issues also tend to deal with feelings of angst, despair, and depression. Often, these patients, many with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), have spent years being told “nothing else can be done.” I have certainly experienced this with the patients I work with which is why I believe addressing the psychological is often as important as addressing the visual complaints.

The goal at my practice is to work with patients’ remaining vision. It is important patients understand their disease and vision prognosis. This became exceedingly clear to me when I examined a patient who had been managed for AMD for the past six years. She told me she kept her eyes closed for five minutes when she woke up every morning. That’s because she spent those minutes praying that when she opened her eyes she would still have some vision. In those six years no one had informed her that AMD impacts the central vision, but the peripheral vision remains intact. After explaining this, I immediately saw a change in her posture and demeanor. It was as though I had lifted a weight from her shoulders. When patients understand their vision loss it sets the foundation for working with their remaining vision.

DEVICE SOLUTIONS
For many of our patients, the biggest complaint””and one of the prime reasons for their malaise””is that they can no longer do the things they love, among them reading and watching TV. Luckily there are many companies such as Eschenbach, Mattingly Low Vision, and ShopLowVision who offer a range of devices that allow folks to perform these daily activities, giving them back a degree of independence and raising their happiness quotient.

Two near-magnifying devices I’ve had success with for sustained reading tasks are Eschenbach’s Makrolux magnifier and Makrolux 3.6x. These have excellent illumination which improves the contrast of the reading material. Similarly, because both function as stand magnifiers, they are in focus when placed on the reading material, which is helpful for those with dexterity issues. For TV problems, Eschenbach’s MaxTV, Mattingly’s TVDUO, and Shop Low Vision’s PowerTV, offer excellent magnification.

SIMPLICITY RULES
As with many things in life, it’s often the simple things that make the biggest impact. While correcting refractive error and prescribing devices is the primary focus of my exam, it’s equally important to ensure patients have the support they need to deal with vision loss. A quick internet search will provide you with many local blindness support services to tell your patients about. These include but are not limited to blindness agencies like Lighthouse International, government agencies such as vocational rehabilitation, support groups, transportation services, and audio books. As doctors it is important include these as part of our patient education.

In making sure our patients understand their vision loss, are equipped with devices to improve vision, and are aware of low vision resources, we help minimize the anxiety of those living with low vision experience.

Nicole Patterson is the Chief of Low Vision and Geriatric Services at Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

WHERE TO FIND IT:

Eschenbach Optik of America, Inc. •800-487-5389 •eschenbach.com

Mattingly Low Vision •888-642-0842 •mattinglylowvision.com

ShopLowVision •800-826-4200 •shoplowvision.com

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