In the US, the standard for legal blindness is that neither eye is able to see better than 20/100 with the best correction in place. For individuals who have a vision that is worse than 20/100, low vision services are available to teach adaptive strategies, train on devices such as magnifiers, and approve driving with an altered pair of glasses like a bioptic telescope. Using these services will not improve the vision of those who are legally blind, but the techniques can provide meaningful benefits to the quality of living for those individuals.
Who Can Benefit from Low Vision Services
Low vision is available to anyone who has difficulty with daily living tasks due to impaired vision. This may be due to blurred vision, loss of vision, visual field loss, contrast sensitivity, or nystagmus.
These symptoms can arise from any number of eye conditions including glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, or optic nerve atrophy.
Most of the time, low vision is recommended by a primary care eye care provider after typical treatments such as medications, glasses, and eye drops have been exhausted.
A low-vision specialist can assist with a consultation about the types of options available to assist with these problems.
What Types of Services are Available with Low Vision
Low vision services can be teaching adaptive techniques or strategies such as ways to optimize viewing with the functional visual field following a stroke or other visual field loss.
While teaching adaptive techniques can be very beneficial, the bigger impact is often by introducing low-vision devices to assist with viewing.
These devices may be handheld magnifiers, stand magnifiers, magnifying glasses, telescopes, or closed-circuit TVs.
Learning to effectively utilize these devices can be life-changing for individuals with low vision. Magnifiers can allow one to read mail and prescription bottles while telescopes may be used for identifying a friend across the room at a crowded restaurant.
One specific device, a bioptic telescope, is used by many with low vision to regain driving privileges.
A bioptic telescope is a small telescope that is mounted on a pair of glasses to allow spotting of distance street signs with increased magnification.
How are Low Vision Services and Devices Financed?
In some cases, medical insurance will pay for the services that low vision can provide including training, consultations, and evaluations.
It is rare that medical insurance will contribute to the purchase of any devices though.
Most low-vision device purchases must be paid for by the individual or with the help of specific low-vision grants that are designed to help those without the funds to purchase needed devices on their own.
When considering what type of low-vision services and devices are best suited, cost should always be considered but there should not be decisions made purely based on the inability to purchase a particular device since there are many grants and programs to help with the out-of-pocket costs associated with low vision devices.
Our eye doctors at EyeDocs Family Eye Care in Brookville, OH excel in the prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases. Call our optometrists at 937-770-1265 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to learn more about low vision services. Our eye doctors, Dr. Kyle Maxam and Dr. Cara Wampler provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Brookville, Ohio.