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
Our Patients Talk About Low Vision Telescopes For Macular Degneration
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:
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration(AMD) can be either Dry or Wet
- 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.
- 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.