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Why Do Seniors Often Overestimate How Well They Can See?

woman drinking coffee 640It may be hard to believe, but many people with sight-threatening eye diseases are completely unaware of their condition until they suffer irreversible vision loss. That’s especially true of people 60 and older, who are the ones most likely to develop these conditions.

Many eye conditions and diseases can creep up slowly, with no discernible symptoms in their early stages.

In one Swedish study of 1,200 seventy-year-olds, 6 out of 10 didn’t realize that their vision was subpar, or that there were ways to maximize their remaining vision with certain glasses or a stronger lens prescription.

The study concluded that many seniors overestimate their eye health, largely because the symptoms of eye disease can develop gradually and often go unnoticed.

Conditions That Can Slowly Impair Vision

Here are some common causes of vision impairment that don’t always have obvious warning signs, at least early on. If you or a loved one experiences any of the following symptoms, contact Dr. Bock Low Vision to schedule a prompt eye exam.

Cataracts

When the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy, cataracts are to blame. They are often a natural part of the aging process, which is why most cases of cataracts occur in people over the age of 50. Depending on the location and intensity of the cataract, it can interfere with vision and may need to be surgically removed.

Symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Blurry or dim vision
  • Perceiving colors as faded
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Frequent changes in lens prescription
  • Sensitivity to light

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is an eye disease that affects the macula (the central portion of the retina) and causes central vision loss. Having a functioning macula allows us to read, watch TV, recognize faces and see fine details.

Symptoms of AMD include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Seeing straight lines as distorted or wavy
  • Difficulty reading
  • Oversensitivity to glare
  • Needing bright light to perform close work

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. It typically affects both eyes and can lead to peripheral vision loss, known as ‘Tunnel Vision.’ Left untreated, glaucoma can eventually cause total blindness.

The early stages of glaucoma do not have any obvious signs, meaning frequent eye exams are essential. Symptoms of middle to late stages of glaucoma include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain
  • Red eyes
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Reduced peripheral vision
  • Seeing rings around lights
  • Sensitivity to light

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR)

DR is a complication of type 1 and 2 diabetes that damages the blood vessels in the retina. The longer a person has diabetes, the higher their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Controlling your blood sugar helps to minimize eye damage.

Symptoms of DR include:

  • Gradually worsening vision
  • Impaired color vision
  • Dark areas in your visual field
  • Blurred vision
  • Sudden increase in floaters

Our Low Vision Optometrist Can Help

Here’s the bottom line: many eye conditions and diseases develop gradually, waving no red flags until the eye is irreversibly damaged. That’s why comprehensive annual eye exams are so crucial for individuals over the age of 60, even if they believe that their eyes are healthy.

At Dr. Bock Low Vision, our low vision team uses the latest diagnostic technology to ensure the most accurate examination and diagnosis. If any signs of eye disease are found, don’t worry —we can help.

We offer various low vision aids and devices so that you can continue living your life to the fullest.

Vision impairment doesn’t have to stop you from doing the things you love. To schedule your low vision consultation, call Dr. Bock Low Vision in San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys today.

Q&A

Q: #1: What are low vision aids?

  • A: They are devices that help people with reduced vision to read, watch TV, recognize faces, and carry out daily tasks. They work by [maximizing] any usable vision and include magnifiers, closed-circuit television, telescope glasses, and more. Your low vision optometrist will help you decide which devices best meet your lifestyle needs.

Q: #2: What can cause low vision?

  • A: People with low vision have visual impairments that can’t be corrected by surgery, medication, or any traditional eye correction methods, like standard glasses and contact lenses. Low vision can be caused by an eye injury, eye diseases like macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, aging and accidents, among other causes.

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How High Tech Helps Those With Low Vision

high tech senior 640

We’ve come a long way since 1270, when Marco Polo discovered elderly Chinese people using magnifying glasses to read.

Technology for people with low vision has changed dramatically—even in the last few years! Today, people with low vision have unprecedented access to cutting-edge medical procedures as well as a wide range of low vision devices and aids, including high-tech headsets and mobile phone apps that help them to read, navigate the world around them, and recognize faces.

If you or someone you love is living with low vision, contact Dr. Bock to discover which low vision devices or low vision glasses will help you live more independently.

Low Vision Electronic Devices

There are a number of low-vision devices and low vision glasses that may help you make the most of your remaining vision.

Macular degeneration causes people to lose central vision when the center of the eye’s retina (the macula) degenerates with age. While macular degeneration is considered incurable, a system using VR goggles and software to magnify the field of vision are sometimes the best way to help those with macular degeneration maximize the use of their remaining vision.

This headset system can help restore the user’s ability to watch TV, read, and do other everyday activities.

Other new assistive technologies include video magnifiers, desktop closed-circuit TV (CCTV) systems, and screen readers. These all allow people to have an up-close view of screens that their vision cannot provide, allowing them to see images and texts more clearly.

Low Vision Apps

Tablets and smartphones now have built-in capabilities for people with low vision, such as:

  • High-definition screens that improve visual clarity
  • Camera lenses that capture and magnify images
  • Speakers that convey directions and words
  • Microprocessors for assistive mobile applications
  • GPS receivers for location-awareness and navigation

Moreover, artificial intelligence can now vocalize written words and sentences so that you understand what you’re seeing—no matter how limited your vision may be.

Low-Vision Assistant Options Keep Growing

There are countless new technologies that can help people live better lives with low vision. However, determining which assistive technologies can best address your needs may feel overwhelming. Dr. Bock Low Vision will be happy to help by matching you with the latest and more suitable low vision device so you can live your best life.

Dr. Bock Low Vision serves patients from San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, West Covina, and Bakersfield, all throughout California.

Frequently Asked Questions with low vision specialist in San Gabriel Valley:

Q: What is low vision?

  • A: Low vision is when a person loses sight that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Low vision can include poor night vision, blurry vision, and blind spots.

Q: Are there other types of low vision aids?

  • A: here are now many low vision aids that can successfully provide improvement in vision and quality of life. Popular low vision devices include:- Magnifying glasses
    – Telescopic glasses
    – Reading prisms
    – Hand magnifiers
    – Lenses that filter light

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How to Avoid Being Blindsided by Glaucoma

Dry Eye Senior Woman 640×350

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, a timely reminder to get your eyes checked!

At least 3 million Americans have glaucoma, and of them, an astonishing 50% don’t even know they have it! In 95% of cases, glaucoma shows no symptoms in its early stages, and by the time symptoms appear, lost vision cannot be restored.

This is why the most effective way not to be blindsided by glaucoma is to undergo regular annual eye exams — even if you think your vision is perfect. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, a low vision optometrist can provide you with the vision aids and strategies to help you maximize your vision for a heightened quality of life.

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a build up of pressure within the eye that causes damage to the optic nerve. The longer the pressure builds, the more damage it causes. Eventually, the nerve will deteriorate to the point of no return, resulting in permanent vision loss or blindness.

How Is Glaucoma Detected?

Early detection is key with glaucoma. Seeing your eye doctor at least once a year for a comprehensive exam is absolutely necessary to avoid vision loss or blindness. During your exam, your doctor will test your eye pressure, examine your optic nerve, and assess your visual field, among other things.

There are several ways to test for glaucoma.

  • Air Puff Test – The puff of air is used to gently reflect off the front of your eye. The machine then calculates how much resistance your eye had to the air blast. This will let your doctor know the amount of pressure inside your eyes.
  • Tonometer – The pressure in the eye is measured by testing resistance, using a small device that gently touches your eye. Your eyes will be numbed with drops, so you won’t feel this light touch.
  • Blue Light Test (Goldmann tonometry) – Your eye doctor will first place numbing drops into your eyes. Then your doctor will use a device called a slit lamp biomicroscope, which slowly moves a flat-tipped probe until it gently touches your cornea. This method is considered the gold-standard for measuring eye pressure. That said, the other two methods are widely used, as they are both comfortable and accurate.

If glaucoma is detected early enough, it can usually be managed to prevent more acute vision loss or blindness. Once vision loss becomes clearly noticeable, it means that the disease has progressed and has entered its advanced stages. At this point, any vision loss incurred is permanent. Fortunately, a low vision optometrist can help manage the condition so you can live your best life.

A Low Vision Optometrist Can Help Manage Glaucoma

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with glaucoma, a low vision doctor can help by offering a variety of high and low tech products to help these patients see more clearly. In fact, the vast majority of patients we fit with custom optics or other low vision devices experience a profound improvement in their day to day life. If you’ve experienced vision loss, the sooner you begin to use low vision aids, the quicker you will adjust and learn new ways of retaining your “normal” lifestyle and activities.

While we help manage the condition, it’s critical to have it diagnosed early on for optimal results. And the only way not to be caught blindsided is to receive an early diagnosis through your annual comprehensive eye exam. Protect your sight and schedule your annual eye exam with Dr. Bock Low Vision today.

Dr. Bock Low Vision serves patients from San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, West Covina, Bakersfield, and throughout California.

What Causes Low Vision And Blindness In Children?

Low Vision And Blindness In Children 640×350Every year, more than half a million children suffer from low vision or blindness in North America. Having impaired vision makes it difficult to read, play sports, participate in social events, and recognize faces. Low vision can also make it difficult to navigate outdoors, especially on crowded sidewalks and busy streets.

Often, the first signs of low vision can manifest as a child appearing clumsy or inattentive, when the true problem lies in their vision.

We understand how impaired vision can adversely impact a child’s life, and we’re here to help. Our low vision doctors offer a variety of helpful strategies vision aids that can help maximize your child’s remaining vision, thus ensuring the highest quality of life under the circumstances.

Read on to learn about some common causes of low vision and blindness in children and discover how a low vision optometrist can help children with impaired vision live their best lives.

Leading Causes of Pediatric Low Vision and Blindness

Albinism

Albinism is an inherited condition that affects melanin production. Melanin is the pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes that gives each person their own unique coloring. Some people with albinism have very little melanin, while others have no melanin at all.

Aside from making a person look different on the outside, albinism can also affect how the eyes function. Healthy amounts of melanin are used in the development of the retina (light sensitive lining at the back of the eye). Reduced amounts of melanin in the eyes, or none at all, can cause a range of vision problems including:

  • Poor eyesight — nearsightedness or farsightedness
  • Low vision — irreversible vision loss
  • Astigmatism — where the clear part at the front of the eye (cornea) isn’t curved correctly or the lens is abnormally shaped, causing blurred vision
  • Photophobia — light sensitivity
  • Nystagmus — involuntary, rapid eye movements
  • Squint — eyes pointing in different directions

Vision problems associated with albinism last a lifetime, but typically don’t worsen over time.

Pediatric Cataracts

A cataract is the opacity or cloudiness that occurs in the eye’s lens, which is crystal clear in a healthy eye. Some cataracts are small and won’t interfere with vision, while others are large and can cause severe vision loss.

An estimated 3 out of 10,000 children have cataracts. Common causes of pediatric cataracts are genetics, infections, and abnormal lens development in utero. Not all cataracts interfere with vision, as some are small or on the outer edges of the lens. If a cataract interferes with the child’s vision, it should be surgically removed as soon as safely possible.

Pediatric Glaucoma

Pediatric glaucoma (also referred to as childhood or infantile glaucoma) is generally diagnosed before a child’s first birthday. Glaucoma causes an increase in the eye’s internal pressure, which can lead to permanent optic nerve damage. Aside from vision loss, symptoms of pediatric glaucoma include enlarged eyes, photosensitivity (light-sensitivity), excessive tearing, and cloudiness in the cornea. In many cases, childhood glaucoma can be effectively managed and treated.

Retinal Diseases

Certain retinal diseases, like Stargardt macular dystrophy, retinitis pigmentosa (RP), Usher syndrome, Leber congenital amaurosis, and Bardet-Biedl syndrome can cause low vision or blindness in children. Children with these retinal diseases should be closely monitored by a low vision optometrist as the condition progresses.

Ocular Trauma

Ocular trauma is a leading cause of acquired monocular blindness (blindness affecting one eye) among children. According to a study published in The Journal of Ophthalmology, about a quarter of a million children are treated for serious ocular trauma yearly in the USA alone. Up to 14% of those cases resulted in visual impairment or blindness. Whenever possible, ensure that your child is wearing protective eyewear when doing certain crafts, playing sports, or engaging in any activity that could pose a risk to their eyes.

How a Low Vision Optometrist Can Help

Many children with vision loss can live full and independent lives. While we may not be able to restore lost vision, we do offer several low vision aids and devices that can help maximize a child’s usable vision. This will enable the child to make the most of their sight, continue to function as independently as possible, and not miss out on the joys of being a kid.

If you have a child with low vision, contact Dr. Bock Low Vision today. We can help.

Dr. Bock Low Vision serves patients from San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, West Covina, and Bakersfield, throughout California.

REFERENCES

10 Ways Your Eyes Change With Age

Lively Older Man Riding His Bicycle, Laughs And Enjoys Life. Sen

10 Ways Your Eyes Change With Age

As we get older, our eyes change, and this affects our vision. Your eye doctor can monitor these changes (some of which are a natural part of the aging process) and identify eye conditions or diseases early enough to treat them and prevent vision loss. Read on to learn more about the different types of eye changes one may encounter with age.

Age-Related Eye Conditions and Diseases

Cataracts

If your vision is starting to get blurry, you may be developing cataracts. Protein buildup on the once-clear crystalline lens, a small transparent disc inside your eye, creates cloudy patches. Over time these patches become bigger and, if left untreated, can eventually lead to blindness. Luckily, cataract surgery (where the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear lens) is extremely safe and effective.

Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss among seniors. This happens when the small central portion of your retina, called the macula, no longer functions effectively as the retinal nerves start to deteriorate. The sooner AMD is diagnosed, the higher the chances of maintaining your clear vision.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve. This damage is usually permanent and often caused by abnormally high pressure in your eye. It can lead to significant vision loss, including blindness. Scheduling regular eye exams can help catch glaucoma early, so that it can be treated before it causes damage.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels can swell and leak into the back of your eye. Left untreated, this can rapidly lead to vision loss, even blindness. Keeping blood sugar levels under control and careful monitoring by your eye doctor can prevent or limit the damage.

Vitreous detachment

This occurs when the gel-like vitreous inside the eye begins to liquefy and pull away from the retina, causing “spots and floaters” and, sometimes, flashes of light. This occurrence is usually harmless, but floaters and flashes of light can also signal the beginning of a detached retina — a serious problem that can cause blindness. If you experience flashes and floaters, see your eye doctor immediately to determine the cause.

 

Other Age-Related Changes

In addition to the above eye conditions and diseases, our vision and the structure of our eyes change as we get older.

Presbyopia

People in their 40s and 50s may have more difficulty focusing on near objects like books and phone screens. This is because the lens inside the eye begins to lose its ability to change shape. This process is called presbyopia (also known as age-related farsightedness). As time goes on, presbyopia will become more pronounced and you will eventually need glasses to see clearly. You may need multiple prescriptions – one prescription to enable you to see up close, one for intermediate distance, and one for distance vision.

Reduced pupil size

As we age, our reaction to light and the muscles that control our pupil size lose some strength. This causes the pupil to become smaller and less responsive to changes in ambient lighting.

The result? Difficulty in clearly seeing objects, such as a menu, in a low-light setting like a restaurant.

Dry eye

Our tear glands produce fewer tears and deliver less oil into our eyes as we get older. Your eye doctor can determine whether your dry eye is age-related or due to another condition, and prescribe prescription eye drops or other effective and lasting treatments to alleviate the dryness and restore comfort.

Loss of peripheral vision

Aging causes a decrease of our peripheral vision by approximately 1-3 degrees per decade of life. You may experience a peripheral visual field loss of 20-30 degrees by the time you reach your 70s and 80s. While peripheral vision loss is a normal part of aging, it can also indicate the presence of a serious eye disease.

Decreased color vision

The cells in the retina responsible for normal color vision tend to decline as we age, causing colors to become less bright and the contrast between different colors to be less noticeable. Though a normal part of aging, less vibrant colors can at times signal a more serious ocular problem.

 

Routine eye exams are essential to keeping your eyes healthy. Your eye doctor can determine whether your symptoms are caused by an eye problem or are a byproduct of aging.

If you or a loved one suffers from impaired vision, know that we can help you regain independence and start doing the things you love again. To find out more and to schedule your appointment, contact Dr. Bock Low Vision today.

 

 

Dr. Bock Low Vision serves patients from San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, West Covina, Bakersfield, and throughout California.

Why Do Colors Appear Less Vibrant?

colors 640You’re deciding which clothes to wear, but wonder why their bright colors suddenly seem subdued. Or perhaps they look faded with your right eye but not your left eye.

Odd, right?

Not seeing colors the way you used to is often a symptom of optical problems, especially as we age. Let’s take a look at some of these diseases and explore ways a low vision eye doctor can help you improve or at least maximize your vision.

Cataracts occur when protein deposits accumulate on the eye’s crystalline lens and turn it opaque. Once-clear vision becomes cloudy and colors begin to fade.

The good news is that cataract surgery is a very safe procedure that replaces your cloudy lens with a new, clear lens. If you’ve had cataract surgery to restore clear vision, you’ll notice right away that colors appear much brighter than before. A few years after cataract surgery, some patients notice that colors may start to appear subdued. This is normal and can be treated very quickly using a laser procedure.

Glaucoma results from high pressure build-up inside the eye, which damages the optic nerve, reduces vision and can lead to blindness. Color-vision deficiency — the inability to tell certain colors apart — can be one of the signs that glaucoma is starting to affect the eyes.

The difficulty in distinguishing between blue and yellow colours is often associated with early glaucoma, whereas red-green deficiencies are generally associated with advanced glaucoma. However, there are times when it is difficult to measure or quantify acquired color vision deficiency, and color tests performed with standardized color test charts frequently characterize it as combined or nonspecific color vision deficiency.

Macular degeneration primarily affects older people by causing a deterioration of the macula, the center of the retina. This leads to blurriness and significant vision loss. Experiencing difficulty distinguishing between similar colors and hues is an early sign of the condition.

Optic neuritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the myelin coating on nerve fibers, causing blurriness and partial vision loss in one or both eyes. Colors, especially shades of red, become subdued, and it becomes harder to distinguish against a similarly colored background. Fortunately, the condition is usually temporary.

Diabetic retinopathy affects people with diabetes when high blood-sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina. This causes these tiny blood vessels to swell, leak fluid, or close, and can even cause abnormal new blood vessels to grow. These new vessels are very fragile and prone to being damaged. Symptoms often include fading colors, blurriness, vision loss, and more.

What to Do When Color-Related Difficulties and Other Visual Symptoms Arise

If you notice that your color vision is reduced, you may be in the early stages of a range of eye diseases. It is important for any eye condition to be diagnosed and treated early on so it can be effectively treated.

If these eye diseases are not managed early, the color-related problems you’re experiencing could worsen, eventually affecting your vision permanently, resulting in what is known as low vision. Low vision indicates that your vision has deteriorated to a point which makes your everyday tasks challenging and can negatively impact your quality of life.

If you notice that colors are diminished or you are experiencing other worrying symptoms affecting your vision, immediately consult Dr. Bock. We will examine you by:

  • Dilating your pupils
  • Evaluating your visual acuity
  • Providing a visual field examination
  • Providing a colour vision assessment
  • Conducting eye pressure tests

The sooner we identify the underlying cause behind your reduced color vision, the sooner you will be able to start treatment to improve or maximize your vision.

 


Dr. Bock Low Vision helps patients in San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, West Covina, Bakersfield, and throughout California.

References

How to Know If You’re at Risk for Glaucoma

happy senior outside 640×350Glaucoma is a dangerous eye condition that can cause blindness. The condition occurs when fluids in the eye put pressure on the optic nerve. It is a leading cause of blindness worldwide, with more than 3 million cases in North America alone.

By testing your vision, dilating your pupils, examining your eyes, and testing your eye pressure, Dr. Bock can detect whether you have glaucoma. Additional tests can determine whether your peripheral vision has declined.

Because glaucoma’s early stages affect the peripheral nerves in your retina, your side vision is damaged before your central vision. Furthermore, as this nerve damage is almost always pain-free, often this condition is discovered only after causing irreversible vision loss. While glaucoma’s effects can be managed, its damage is permanent.

Be Aware of the Risk Factors

You should be alert to the dangers of glaucoma, especially if you:

  • are over 40 years old
  • are African American or Hispanic
  • have diabetes, heart disease, sickle cell anemia, or high blood pressure
  • have a family history of glaucoma
  • sustained an eye injury
  • have extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness
  • have used corticosteroid medications
  • notice any vision loss

How Do I Know if I Have Glaucoma?

Contact Dr. Bock at Dr. Bock Low Vision, who will dilate the pupil of your eyes and perform a comprehensive eye examination to determine whether you have the condition. If you do, we will start treatment immediately, usually by prescribing eye medications to prevent the glaucoma from worsening, and schedule follow-up visits.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting a thorough dilated eye exam by age 40 to catch glaucoma and other eye diseases early.

Other proactive steps the CDC advises to prevent glaucoma include:

  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • monitoring your blood pressure
  • staying active
  • not smoking

 

Dr. Bock Low Vision treats patients with glaucoma — and people at risk for it — in San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, West Covina, Bakersfield, and throughout California.

References

The 3rd Person in the Exam Room

adult woman with senior womanMany of the people who enter our offices seeking low vision care do so with a mixture of anxiety and trepidation. By the time we see them they will have already tried over-the-counter reading glasses, a variety of routine eyeglass prescriptions, hand-held magnifiers, and probably retinal treatments and AREDS vitamins — often to no avail.

Not only has their vision not improved, but they have been repeatedly told by their physician that “nothing more can be done,” at least from a medical perspective.

Eager for solutions, they reach out to Dr. Bock Low Vision to give it one more try, often accompanied by a friend or loved one.

We recognize how important it is for many patients to have a “3rd person in the exam room.” Having a support person can be invaluable for the patient, in a variety of ways, by providing emotional support and guidance during and after visits to the practice. This support person can be a significant other, spouse, partner, adult child, aide, or caregiver.

Reasons to Have a Support Person Present at the Low Vision Evaluation

There are many reasons for having that third person in the room. One of them is the familiarity that helps calm the patient’s anxieties. Furthermore, even if a patient’s memory is intact, they rarely remember all the suggestions and recommendations discussed during the doctor’s visit — something a support person can help with.

The support person may be able to fill in any missing information regarding the patient’s visual needs and medical history if the patient isn’t able to do so.

Accompanying the patient to exams can give the support person a deeper understanding of the patient’s visual capabilities and limitations. They may be dismayed at the patient’s poor vision during the eye chart testing or elated to discover that the patient has usable vision that can be enhanced with the use of low vision aids and devices.

The “3rd person” can act as a cheerleader, encouraging the patient to try activities they thought were beyond their visual abilities. They can encourage the patient to try telescope glasses or read small print using a microscopic lens.

The support person can also help and remind the patient to correctly follow the instructions when using the low vision aids by, for example, ensuring the patient is holding the reading material at the correct reading distance and situating the desk lamp for maximum benefit and brightness.

Bring a Support Person to Your Next Low Vision Consultation

To ensure the best outcome, we highly recommend that patients invite a support person to join them for their vision evaluations and consultations with Dr. Bock.

To learn more about how Dr. Bock Low Vision can help low vision patients make the most of their vision, please contact Dr. Bock today.

We serve low vision patients from San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, West Covina,Bakersfield, all throughout California.

Reading Tips For Those With Macular Degeneration

Woman 1.7FD w Cap.KinkadeThe most serious symptom of macular degeneration (AMD) is the loss of central vision, with those in the more advanced stages of AMD experiencing a smudge or black spot in the center of their vision. This makes it difficult to read and causes many people to give up on reading.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Below you will find a list of low vision devices and strategies that can help people with AMD read more easily and comfortably.

Members of The International Academy of Low Vision Specialists are experts in determining which low vision devices will work best for you for reading.

Low Vision Devices for Reading

Reading Magnifier

Hand-held magnifiers are the most commonly used visual aids for spot reading among those with AMD and other low vision conditions. In the correct power, they are useful for reading medicine bottles, prices, labels, oven dials, etc. While you can find small pocket magnifiers, full-page illuminated magnifiers, and magnifiers that are mounted on adjustable stands, only your low vision doctor can determine exactly what power you need.

Portable Electronic Magnifiers

A portable electronic magnifier resembles an iPad or a tablet. By holding this device in front of your reading material, you can view the magnified version on its LED screen.

High-Power Reading Glasses

Strong magnifying reading eyeglasses enable a person with severe visual impairment to read the fine print. Your low vision eye doctor will determine the correct near prescription and demonstrate how they work.

Video Magnifier

Although traditional optical magnifiers, such as magnifying glasses, are generally very helpful, some people benefit more from a video magnifier. A video magnifier, or closed-circuit television (CCTV), has a camera that transmits magnified images (up to 50x or higher) and displays them on a large monitor or TV screen. You can sit as close to the screen as you like and adjust the magnification, brightness, and contrast for reading clarity.

Tele-Microscopic Glasses

Tele-microscopic lenses are mounted on the eyeglass lenses and may be prescribed for one or both eyes. They allow people with low vision to read, use a computer, write, and perform other tasks at a comfortable distance.

Certain low vision devices require a prescription from an eye doctor as they are custom-made for your specific needs. Consult Dr. Bock, who will help determine which vision aids are best for your needs, based on your lifestyle and level of vision impairment.

Other Strategies To Help You Read With Macular Degeneration

Increase in Contrast

It’s important to ensure a stark contrast between the text being read and its background. Newspapers don’t offer much contrast because the grey letters sit on an off-white background.

Many electronic screens allow you to tailor the contrast to your needs: black lettering on a white background; white lettering on a black background; black lettering on a yellow background; and yellow lettering on a dark black background. Try the different color combinations and settle on the color contrast combination that offers the best contrast for the most comfortable reading experience.

Increase Lighting

Increasing the amount and type of lighting can greatly improve reading ability in those with AMD.

Direct light. A standard table lamp usually won’t provide sufficient light for reading a book. Consider getting an adjustable gooseneck lamp that allows you to focus the light directly onto the reading material.

Sunlight. Because natural sunlight is the ideal lighting for reading, try to arrange your furniture in such a way that you can sit near a window for comfortable daytime reading.

Lightbulbs. Use the brightest light bulbs for each light fixture in the house. These include LED, halogen, and full-spectrum light bulbs (which mimics natural sunlight more than incandescent bulbs). Be careful with halogen, however, as they may create excessive heat. Replace any fluorescent lighting in the house, as it can cause glare, particularly for those with low vision. For reading, however, the best option is to use lower strength light bulbs and bring the lamp closer.

E-reader. Kindles and other e-readers conveniently include a built-in light that allows you to adjust brightness for more comfortable reading.

Large Print Books or Larger Fonts

Consider purchasing large print books online or in book shops, as they include larger fonts, more spacing and better contrast. If you opt for electronic books, you can conveniently increase the font size, rendering it easier and more enjoyable to read.

Adjust Spacing

Your electronic reading device allows you to adjust the spacing between the lines as needed. By widening the space between lines, you will find reading easier and will experience less eye strain.

Speak with Dr. Bock for more advice on reading with macular degeneration or to get low vision aids and devices.

Dr. Bock Low Vision serves low vision patients in San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, West Covina, and Bakersfield, throughout California.

 

Why All Low Vision Patients Are Upset

CRAIG5By Richard J. Shuldiner, OD, FAAO, FIALVS, Chief Clinical Editor

In 1960, at the age of seven, Wayne F. was diagnosed with amblyopia in his left eye (commonly referred to as Lazy Eye), but it was left untreated. As an adult, Wayne scheduled regular eye exams every few years and received new glasses each time the vision in his right eye changed. In November of 2019, it was time to renew his driver’s license. During all previous DMV visits, Wayne could read the vision charts with the help of glasses. This trip was different.

How Wayne Suddenly Became a Low Vision Patient

Wayne’s vision had slowly deteriorated to the point where the DMV eye chart became impossible to read, and, to his surprise, his license was revoked. Wayne scheduled an appointment with his eye doctor to get new glasses. He expected that a new prescription would improve his vision enough to get his driver’s license reinstated. It also seemed like an opportunity to get new frames and a new look. That’s when Wayne received the news that dry macular degeneration had developed in his right eye, and that new glasses would not improve his vision. He was told, “Nothing more can be done.”

Wayne was devastated. Confusion and worry took over as he asked himself, “How will I get to work? How will I pay the mortgage? How will I support my family? What will become of me?”

Low Vision Patients Have a Reason to Be Upset

ALL low vision patients are upset. Every one of them. And it doesn’t matter if they have a happy disposition, a good attitude or have “accepted” it. They are upset.

As we know, Wayne is not alone. Many patients are struggling with the shocking news that new glasses will not restore their vision. Loss of vision is one of the major fears that people have. When it happens, the upset can be truly debilitating.

Definition of Low Vision

What exactly is “low vision”? There are many ways to say it, but for me, this is the most understandable: Best corrected vision is insufficient to do what you want to do.

The definition contains two variables: vision and task— the amount of vision available to work with, and the tasks the patient wants to be able to do. A person with no visual goals does not have low vision, regardless of the extent of vision loss.

What Is it Like?

Consider the plight of most of the low vision patients we see. They have had decent vision for most of their lives. They needed glasses at some point, for any of the refractive reasons, including presbyopia. Some solved their conditions with glasses, others with contact lenses, vision therapy, or a surgical procedure. In each case, these solutions enabled them to see well enough to do what they wanted to do.

Now, after scores of eye examinations over the years, they once again don’t see well. Still confident that their vision can be corrected, they make an appointment with clear expectations and intentions: stylish new frames, better contacts, clearer vision to enjoy life and be productive. After all, they’ve been through this many times. Only this time, it doesn’t happen.

Instead, they are told they have an “eye condition” that has caused them to lose vision permanently!

And, they are told that if there is a treatment, it won’t bring back the vision they have lost!

And, they may lose more vision!

And it could happen at any time!

And they might go blind!

And lastly, they are told, “There’s nothing more we can do!”

Each sentence stabs like a knife.

What Being Upset Is All About

Surprisingly, there are only three things that upset human beings.

  • Unfulfilled expectations
  • Thwarted intentions
  • Undelivered communications

Think about any time you have ever been upset. Regardless of the circumstances, regardless of who you think was to blame, regardless of what “they” did, regardless of the topic or whom it was with, the upset falls into one or more of the above three categories.

No one expects to lose vision permanently.

No one expects to hear these words from their eye doctor: “There’s nothing more that can be done.”

The expectation is that the doctor will have a solution to the problem.

The intention is to get new glasses, see better, get new frames and have a new, fashionable look.

They walk out in a daze, unable to communicate or even think clearly.

Upset Reactions

Three things happen to a human being when they become upset:

  • A shift in reality
  • A loss of affinity
  • A decrease in communication

Everyone knows not to make decisions when upset. Why? Because the shift in perception of reality leads to bad decisions. We’ve all experienced a reduction in both love and appreciation when we are upset with a loved one. And, we all know that getting someone to open up and communicate when they are upset is nearly impossible.

Words From an Eye Doctor

Life is full of unexpected and upsetting events and, like a flash of lightning, life can change in an instant. An event, such as being told you have Macular Degeneration (or some other vision-affecting eye condition) and that new glasses won’t help, become so upsetting that clear thinking is virtually impossible. What I’ve seen over the years while working with low vision patients is a state of chaos, of not knowing what to do, who to turn to, and how to deal with permanent vision loss. Confusion and fear take over as people have no idea what their lives will be like or what they should do.

Providing a Future

When faced with “going blind,” all the hopes and dreams of the future seem to be destroyed. The idea of having time to read great novels, travel to see famous sights, watch the grandchildren play their sports, and more is crushed in their minds. The future they have imagined is gone.

This is where low vision care comes in. People need a future to live into. Dr. Bock can give them that and reduce the turmoil they feel.

We are telling our patients today: “There is life after vision loss. There are low vision doctors who can help to keep you doing those things you love. Your life is not over.”

Advanced LOW VISION CARE is available at Dr. Bock Low Vision and a fulfilling life is attainable. Low vision glasses (i.e. telescopes, microscopes, prismatics, filters, etc.), low vision devices, adaptive technology, large print materials, and auxiliary professionals, such as Occupational Therapists and Orientation/Mobility specialists are available. Dr. Bock is a member of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists and has years of experience treating and caring for low vision patients.

This article first appeared here: https://emailactivity1.ecn5.com/engines/publicPreview.aspx?blastID=2606173&emailID=387066764