Why You Should Seek a Low Vision Evaluation

Here is another excerpt from my book from the chapter titled: Acceptance-Adjustment-Adaption

The low vision evaluation is different from the medical eye examination that you receive from your optometrist or ophthalmologist.  The medical examination is focused primarily on evaluating the health of the visual system, concluding with a diagnosis and subsequent treatment, if needed.  The refraction, which determines the eyeglass prescription, is generally a part of that medical examination.  Your eye doctor wants you to leave the office with the best vision possible.

If your vision is not optimal, in other words, not “20/20’ with a new eyeglass prescription, additional testing will be done and a diagnosis determined.  The doctor next considers the appropriate treatment, either medication or surgery.  Sometimes there is no treatment, or the maximum treatment has been given, and there is no improvement in vision.  The doctor may say ‘nothing more can be done, see you in three months.”

Nothing more can be done!  This clinician may be brilliant within his/her scope of practice, but may not be aware of what the low vision specialist does, is too busy to concern himself, or may not be familiar with a referral network.  They may think the patient is too old or the vision loss is too severe.  I have heard of doctors, at the top of their profession, who send the patient out shopping for magnifiers.

This is where you need to be your own advocate.  Low vision services can be found in private practices (optometrists or ophthalmologists who also practice low vision), low vision multidisciplinary centers, and state or federal agencies.  Multidisciplinary low vision referral centers will have low vision specialists who work with occupational therapists, rehabilitation therapists, and counselors.

Low vision specialists are licensed optometrists or ophthalmologists, who understand the disease process and will have insight into the prognosis because of their medical training.  They are knowledgeable about functional vision loss and understand their limitations.  They have seen people with similar problems before, and will not think you are too old or too debilitated.  Their goal is to help maximize your visual potential, and help you through the adjustment and adaption process.

The low vision specialist evaluates the type of vision loss, whether it is a loss of visual acuity, visual field, or contrast sensitivity, and then evaluates what visual function remains. Their goal is not to treat the disease process in a medical sense, as with medications or surgery.  Medical treatment is still the domain of your regular eye doctor, with whom you should continue to see on a regular basis.

Here are the reasons to get a low vision evaluation;

  1. To Advocate for Yourself;
  2. Introduction to Visual Aids and Techniques;
  3. Education and Counseling, and
  4. Appropriate Referrals.

Thought for the Day: The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.   B.B.King

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