February 15, 2017
Media contact: Leigh DeLozier, (404) 778-3711
(ATLANTA) Being diagnosed with low vision is more than simply needing eyeglasses or contact lenses to help you see better. It’s having eyesight poor enough that common daily activities such as reading, preparing meals or checking email are increasingly difficult.
The professionals at Emory Eye Center’scan offer help to individuals in this position.
“Our goal is to help patients learn to use special devices or make modifications so they can improve their vision and their everyday life,” says Susan Primo, OD, MPH, FAAO, director of optometry services at Emory Eye Center. “Since we’re part of an academic medical center, we have the most advanced vision-assisting devices available on the market. We’re involved with innovative therapies such as the implantable miniature telescope (or IMT) that can help patients with end-stage macular degeneration regain some of their vision.”
Doctors and staff at the clinic work with patients of all ages, so have helped children who have hereditary conditions, individuals who want to remain in the workplace and older adults who want to keep their independence.
Each patient’s plan is individualized, but can include mobility training, independent living skills, computer adaptations and more. Some of the low vision devices that can help make daily life easier include special magnifiers, high-powered lenses, virtual reality systems, and other optical devices.
“Patients work with an occupational therapist to regain and sustain independence,” Primo says. “We also use scanning and fixation therapy to maximize remaining vision.”
Fixation therapy (for eccentric fixation) teaches patients how to maintain a “visual hold” on a stationary object, especially when they need to use a healthier part of the retina. Scanning helps patients learn to compensate for spatial or visual field loss and take in visual information in a systematic manner. This loss can occur from large blind spots or visual field defects due to a stroke, traumatic brain injury or eye disease such as retinitis pigmentosa or advanced glaucoma that causes significant peripheral visual field loss.
Low vision is more common than many people realize: the condition affects one in six American adults and two-thirds of people over 65. Primo’s top advice for these people – and family members who might want to help – is to seek resources and get support.
“It’s very important that patients realize there are tools and devices out there that can improve quality of life, from things as simple as magnifiers to high-level assistive technology such as text-to-speech and voice recognition,” she says. “Patients and family members should seek out all resources and visit a low vision/vision rehabilitation clinic. Their doctor should be able to give them information about this.
“It’s also helpful for patients to refine the list of goals they wish to reach,” Primo adds. “This will help the vision rehab team hone in on tools or strategies that will help allow the patient to remain independent and have a good quality of life.”
Emory Eye Center’s Ned S. Witkin Vision Rehabilitation Clinic helps people of any age who are visually impaired and have only partial sight due to cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, detached retina, or stroke.
The Emory Eye Center has long been a clinical, scientific and academic leader for eye care. Ophthalmologists, optometrists and other eye care professionals treat individuals of all ages who need care ranging from general examinations to treatment of complex disorders. Scientists at Emory Eye Center are researching the causes of and improved treatments for macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, genetic eye diseases and more. Innovative treatments, groundbreaking research and personalized care have earned Emory Eye Center the respect of patients and providers alike.
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