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Low Vision Doctors Help People With Macular Degeneration, Read, Drive, Watch the Television, and See Faces

Our Low Vision Optometrist is a member of the International Academy Of Low Vision Specialists and has helped countless patients use their remaining vision to its full potential.

Our Low Vision Doctor

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Dr. Larry M. Chism

Dr. Larry Chism received his Bachelor of Science in 1975 and went on to receive his Doctor of Optometry shortly after, concentrating in contact lenses and low vision. Since 1980 Dr. Chism has been full owner and managing associate of Vision Source-Tyler, a private practice providing full scope optometric eye...

Our Patients Talk About Low Vision Telescopes For Macular Degneration

Low Vision Telescopes Help Patients Smile

What Causes Low Vision?

Low Vision is defined as any lack of vision that is not able to be corrected with either glasses or contact lenses alone. There are many potential causes for low vision, including:

What Is Macular Degneration?

Macular Degeneration is a visual problem that results in the partial or complete loss of central vision, commonly in both the eyes. It does not affect the peripheral vision. In this condition, the macula, which is the most sensitive central part of the retina at the back of the eye is damaged. Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States for people over 60. 

Macular degeneration is also known as Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD/ARMD). 

Difficulties Faced with Macular Degeneration

As the central vision is blurred with AMD, it becomes difficult to focus. Patients with AMD usually have trouble with reading and recognizing faces. They may also notice a reduced vibrancy of colors and difficulty seeing things with poor contrast or poor lighting. 

People with macular degeneration have a difficult time getting around by themselves, going to the store, driving,  using the computer, watching television and many other activities which they had taken for granted. 

One of the most significant effects of macular degeneration is the sudden depression caused by the feeling of hopelessness, loss of independence, and feelings of guilt for having to rely on their loved ones. 

When Should You Visit A Low Vision Optometrist

If you notice gradual changes in your central vision, talk to your optometrist for further course of action.If, however, you notice sudden changes like:

  • Sudden deterioration in vision
  • Distortion in images
  • Blind spots in your field of view,

Book yourself in for an urgent appointment with your eye doctor. In case AMD is doubted, you will be prescribed further tests for a detailed diagnosis.

Because the biggest risk factor is age, it is recommended to visit a low vision optometrist as you approach retirement age. A low vision optometrist will provide insights on how you can reduce the risk of diseases such as AMD. 

Who Is At Risk For Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration most commonly occurs due to age, in people more than 50 years. People with this disease running in their families have a greater risk of AMD. As the exact cause of AMD is still not clear, it is difficult to prevent it. A few steps can be taken, though, as preventive measures:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Eat healthy - a balanced diet rich in fish and leafy green vegetables
  • Have only moderate amounts of alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy BMI
  • Keep your cholesterol levels in check
  • Protect your eyes from harmful UV rays when outdoors for long durations.
  • Protect your eyes from harmful blue light from computers and cell phones 

 

Macular Degeneration in Younger Persons

Although the elderly are the most commonly affected by macular degeneration, younger people can be the victims of it in rare cases. Juvenile macular degeneration, as it is called in such cases, is mostly due to genetic disorders. Some disorders that can cause macular degeneration either at birth or later are Stargardt’s disease, Best’s disease, Juvenile Retinoschisis and Sorby’s dystrophy.

 

Course of Treatment For AMD

Unfortunately, there is no complete cure for either Dry or Wet AMD. The inclusion of lots of green leafy vegetables and supplements containing lutein and zeaxanthin may slow the progression of AMD. People with Dry AMD are encouraged to use the rest of their vision. The use of some low vision devices like Low Vision Telescopes can help manage the issues they face. Wet AMD treatment is aimed at inhibiting the further growth of abnormal blood vessels. It is important to get treated early if you have this type of AMD, as this has a high progression rate.

Using a Computer With Macular Degeneration

One of the questions our Long Island low vision doctor receives is "how can my loved one use the computer with AMD."

Computer usage poses serious challenges to patients with macular degeneration, text size, contrast, and brightness are but a few areas that make computer usage much more difficult. 

Our optometrist will recommend solutions to help the AMD patient use a computer or tablet. One of the more effective programs is called ZoomText. 

Types of Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration(AMD) can be either Dry or Wet

  1. Dry AMD: This happens when an accumulation of deposits called drusen damages the cells of the macula. This is more common than Wet AMD, with around 90 percent of AMD cases being Dry. It is less serious compared to Wet AMD. Usually, loss of vision occurs over a period of many years. A few people with this type may develop Wet AMD later.
  2. Wet AMD: Also known as neovascular AMD, Wet AMD occurs when macular cells are damaged sue to is a formation of abnormal blood vessels under the macula. This is more serious and progresses rapidly with vision deteriorating within several days if left untreated.

Stages of AMD

Once diagnosed, your doctor will determine the stage of your AMD - early, intermediate, or advanced. While early AMD may be asymptomatic, intermediate AMD and advanced AMD will affect your vision with blurred spots and loss of sharp central vision. 

At each stage of AMD, our low vision doctor will recommend the right low vision aids, vitamins, and lifestyle changes. 

Living With Macular Degeneration

blurry driving

Driving With Macular Degeneration

Many of our macular degeneration patients express the desire to be able to drive again using bioptic telescope glasses. Our doctor, Dr. Schoenbart has fit hundreds of patients with Macular degeneration for telescopes and has helped countless patients get back behind the wheel.

"For a patient with macular degeneration getting their license is a critical step to overcoming the emotional effects of low vision and learning to maximize their remaining vision. Many patients are shocked that driving with macular degeneration using bioptic telescopes is allowed in almost all states."

elder woman sitting with glasses

One Disease Two Doctors

Macular degeneration requires two doctors to provide the patient care that is needed.

The Ophthalmologist or Retinologist, to care for the medical health of the eye, and a low vision optometrist to maximize a patients remaining vision.

A low vision optometrist is crucial to help a patient with AMD learn to live and come to cope with macular degeneration. A low vision optometrist will fit them for different low vision aids for the tasks that they wish to perform. In addition to the low vision aids the low vision optometrist will guide the patient with regards to lighting, resources, and the myriad of questions and concerns they may have.

happy family outside

Hope For Macular Degeneration

AMD is the leading cause of vision loss for Americans over 60. While AMD is not curable, there is a reason not to give up hope. The latest optical technology and digital technology have created breakthroughs that will allow a person with AMD to read, drive, sew and recognize faces.

Eye Vitamins For Macular Degneration?

A lot of research has been conducted on the effect of supplementing vitamins for patients with AMD. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 1 and 2, AREDS1 and AREDS2 trials, were trials in 4000 patients with macular degeneration to ascertain the effect of different vitamins on the severity and development of AMD. The AREDS formula was shown to be extremely effective for patients with AMD in preventing further degradation of vision, and is comprised of:

  • 500 mg vitamin C.
  • 400 IU vitamin E.
  • 10 mg lutein.
  • 2 mg zeaxanthin.
  • 80 mg zinc.
  • 2 mg copper.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are the two carotenoid pigments that are present in the macula. Since western diet does not contain the needed quantities, our low vision optometrist recommends supplementing your natural diet of leafy greens and fish with eye vitamins. 

Lighting For Macular Degeneration

For patients in New York with Macular Degeneration, indoor lighting can play a big role in their ability to utilize their remaining vision. Our low vision optometrist recommends improving the overall brightness of the patient's residence, which usually can be accomplished by adding stand/desk lighting in the areas where the patient will need extra visual acuity. New full spectrum high powered LED lights offer superior brightness and color contrast that are essential for a patient with Macular Degeneration. 

 

EScoop Glasses For AMD

Escoop glasses are special glasses that offer an improved vision for patients with early stages of macular degeneration. 

The advantages of Escoops are: 

  • Contrast 
  • Magnification
  • Shifting the image to undamaged peripheral vision
  • Antiglare coating 
OrCam Glasses For Macular Degeneration

OrCam is a revolutionary product that compliments other low vision glasses. Unlike regular vision aids, OrCam does not focus on vision, but on the tasks that are no longer accessible. Attached to your glasses a mini camera uses advanced technology to read quietly in your ear whatever text you are pointing to.  For the visually impaired OrCam is an excellent tool. 

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