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Living With Legal Blindness

Living With Legal Blindness 640

Being legally blind affects how you go about your daily tasks and how you navigate the world around you. Legal blindness is defined as having 20/200 vision or less. This means that an object that appears clear to a person with a perfect vision from 200 feet away, is only clear to a legally blind person at a maximum distance of 20 feet away.

Legal blindness is also defined as having a visual field of 20 degrees or less. Those with this type of vision have severe difficulties in mobility, yet see sharply with their central vision.

Depending on the underlying cause of your condition, you may experience a lack of color contrast, color distortions, loss of depth perception, difficulty with excessive glare, sensitivity to bright light or night blindness. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep doing the things you love, even with low vision.

Tips for Living With Vision Loss

Having low vision demands certain adjustments. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and be able to engage in the tasks you most enjoy.

Cooking Safety

Being unable to see a cutting surface or an oven rack can be dangerous, but there are several ways to adapt your cooking techniques.

  • To avoid burns from reaching into a hot oven, use an oven rack grabber or long oven mitts. You can also place tape over the knobs for the back burners to avoid using them altogether, then you don’t need to reach over a potentially hot flame.
  • Try to fry or grill foods with a small indoor air fryer or grill; it’s much safer than pan-frying on the stove.
  • Instead of using your stovetop or oven, use a slow cooker.
  • Use a pair of scissors instead of a knife to cut food and packaging.

Lighting

Ample lighting is crucial for people with significant vision loss. When lighting your home and work areas, remember to implement the following tips.

  • Keep all rooms evenly lit so that your eyes don’t have to adjust to changes in lighting when walking from one room to another.
  • Use compact fluorescent or LED bulbs instead of incandescent light bulbs. They’re more energy-efficient and produce a brighter light.
  • Depending on your lighting needs, use task lamps that you can move closer or farther away from your work.
  • When writing, avoid shadows by positioning your work lamp on the other side of your writing hand, with the paper sandwiched between your hand and the lamp.

Hobbies/Activities

Being legally blind doesn’t mean you have to give up on your favorite activities or hobbies. Here are a few tips to help those with low vision enjoy taking part in various activities and hobbies:

  • Enjoy playing cards or Bingo? Purchase large print or Braille cards.
  • Enjoy going to the movie theater? Ask whether they have an audio description service—headphones that play the sounds of the movie along with a narrator that describes the characters and scenes.
  • Sports lover? Listen to sporting events on the radio. Radio announcers provide a more detailed description of the game.
  • Enjoy arts and crafts? Use a tactile ruler or tape measure.
  • Like sewing? Anchor your sewing needles in a cork or bar of soap to thread them.

Computer Use

Nowadays, computers offer many features to enlarge text or add contrast for easier readability. In addition, you can also:

  • Purchase stickers to place over the keys on your existing keyboard
  • Use a large print or Braille keyboard.
  • Learn keyboard shortcut commands to help you rely less on the mouse pointer.
  • Use additional accessibility software, like speech-to-text software or a screen reading program.
  • Use a larger monitor.

While experiencing vision loss may at first seem like the end of the world, there are so many ways you can still live a full and productive life. People with low vision or partial vision can benefit from a variety of visual aids to maximize their remaining vision. Regardless of one’s degree of vision loss, a person can benefit from accessible smartphone apps, e-readers, and many other types of adaptive technology.

Contact Low Vision Doctors of Ohio to learn more about low vision devices, eyewear and technologies that can help you live life to the fullest. Our low vision optometrist will work with you and prescribe the best devices to suit your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Rinkov

Q: What is low vision?

  • A: An individual is defined as having ‘low vision’ if their fully corrected vision is insufficient to do what you want to do. Fortunately, there’s hope for those with low vision. A low vision eye doctor can offer vision aids and devices to maximize remaining vision.

Q: What are low vision aids and devices?

  • A: Low vision aids are a combination of special lenses and devices that maximize any usable vision to help patients recognize faces, watch TV, read and carry out daily tasks. Common low vision aids include low vision glasses like microscopes, telescopes, filters and prisms. There are also electronic visual aids and optical magnifiers.
  • Low Vision Doctors of Ohio serves patients from Columbus, Worthington, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, all throughout Ohio.


How To Cope With Vision Loss

Smiling Optometrist low vision eye exam 640×350A wide range of factors can lead to vision loss and the speed at which your vision deteriorates. For certain patients, changes to vision can occur quickly, as a result of eye diseases like untreated retinal detachment, wet macular degeneration or eye trauma. In other cases, vision loss is often very gradual, developing over many years and even decades, as in the case of open-angle glaucoma and dry macular degeneration.

Adjusting to visual impairment takes time and patience—but you don’t have to go through it alone. We can help. Below, we offer some tips to help you or a loved one with any degree of vision loss live a more fulfilling, independent and enjoyable life.

 

1. Visit a Low Vision Optometrist

Low vision optometrists are experienced in working with people who have low vision. They offer a low vision evaluation to determine how much vision you have and assess which tasks are giving you trouble. They will then prescribe low vision glasses and devices to allow you to do what you want to do.

2. Give your eyes a break

Eye fatigue is a very real and common side effect of vision loss. Many sight-threatening eye diseases cause symptoms like reduced color contrast, color and shape distortion, and light and glare sensitivity, among others.

All of these symptoms put a great deal of stress on the visual system since your brain works overtime to try and make sense of the distorted images your eyes are sending.

Make sure that your eyes are getting the rest they need by closing them for a few minutes at a time throughout your day, especially during visually taxing activities. Many patients also find it helpful to take power naps when possible.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Although it may be hard at first, asking for help from family, friends and even strangers may be necessary at any stage of vision loss.

We understand that asking for assistance may feel uncomfortable, but truth is—most people are happy to offer a helping hand.

4. Try slowing down

Moving at the same pace you once did can be dangerous after vision loss sets in. Give yourself the extra time you need to complete tasks, both routine and unfamiliar ones.

For example, if you’ve dropped an object, bend down slowly and cautiously to avoid accidentally bumping your head into something along the way.

5. Keep things [organized]

If it feels like you’re spending too much time trying to locate objects around the house, you may need a better organization system.

Keeping things in a set place will save time and energy. It also fosters independence and [minimizes] daily stress.

Using bold-colored labels, puffy paint, stickers, pins, and filing systems can all help keep objects neat and easily accessible.

Customize your [organizational] system to suit your needs — and stick to it. It will take some getting used to at first, but will ultimately be worth the effort.

6. Start relying on your other senses

Using your other senses like touch and hearing can be incredibly helpful when trying to get things done.

Using your hearing to detect an oncoming vehicle at a crosswalk will help you better navigate the road. Or using your hands to scan a surface when looking for your phone or keys can be more effective than trying to spot them visually.

Whether you’ve been living with low vision for a while or have received a recent diagnosis, we can help. At Low Vision Doctors of Ohio, we understand the challenges that accompany low vision and make it our mission to improve the lives of our patients so they can live a more independent life.

If you or a loved one has experienced any degree of vision loss, call Low Vision Doctors of Ohio today to schedule your low vision consultation.

Low Vision Doctors of Ohio serves patients from Columbus, Worthington, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and throughout Ohio.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Rinkov

Q: #1: What is low vision?

  • A: People with low vision can achieve no better than 20/70 vision, even with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Low vision is typically caused by eye injuries and eye diseases, among other factors.

Q: #2: What are low vision aids and devices?

  • A: Low vision aids are a combination of special lenses and devices that maximize any usable vision to help patients read, recognize faces, watch TV, and carry out daily tasks. Common low vision aids include low vision glasses like telescopes, microscopes, prisms, filters, electronic visual aids and optical magnifiers. Your low vision eye doctor will work with you to prescribe the most effective devices for your needs.


Why Do Seniors Often Overestimate How Well They Can See?

woman drinking coffee 640

Many eye conditions and diseases often creep up slowly, with no discernible symptoms in their early stages. That’s why many people with sight-threatening eye diseases are completely unaware of their condition until they reach irreversible vision loss. This is especially true of those 60 years and older, known to be at higher risk for developing these conditions.

A Swedish study that included 1,200 seventy-year-olds, 6 out of 10 didn’t realize that their vision was subpar. Nor did they know that there were ways to maximize their remaining vision with certain glasses or a stronger lens prescription.

The study concluded that many seniors tend to believe that their eye health is better than it actually is, largely because (as mentioned above) the symptoms of eye disease often go unnoticed until its more advanced stages.

Conditions That Slowly Impair Vision

Below are some common causes of vision impairment that don’t always show the warning signs early on. If you or a loved one has any of the following symptoms, contact Low Vision Doctors of Ohio to promptly schedule an eye exam.

Cataracts

When the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy, it’s likely due to cataracts—a natural part of the aging process. The majority of cataract cases occur in people over the age of 50. Depending on the location and severity of the cataract, it can interfere with vision and may need to be surgically removed.

Cataract symptoms include:

  • Blurry or dim vision
  • Faded colors
  • 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), causing central vision loss. A healthy macula enables 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, which is why frequent eye exams are essential. Symptoms of middle-to-late stage 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 minimize eye damage.

Symptoms of DR include:

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

How Our Low Vision Optometrist Can Help

Here’s the bottom line: many eye diseases develop gradually, waving no red flags until the eye is irreversibly damaged. That’s why comprehensive annual eye exams are so crucial for those 60 years and up, even if they believe their eyes to be in perfect health.

We at Low Vision Doctors of Ohio use the latest diagnostic technology to ensure the most accurate examination and diagnosis. If any signs of eye disease are detected, please don’t lose hope. We can help.

Low Vision Doctors of Ohio offers a variety of low vision aids and devices that help maximize your vision, so that you can continue living your life to the fullest.

Vision impairment shouldn’t have to stop you from doing the things you love. To schedule your low vision consultation, call us today.

Low Vision Doctors of Ohio serves patients from Columbus, Worthington, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, all throughout Ohio.

Q&A

Q: #1: What are low vision aids?

  • A: They are a combination of special lenses and devices that maximize any usable vision in order to help those with reduced vision read, watch TV, recognize faces, and carry out daily tasks. These include low vision glasses, like telescopes, microscopes, prisms, and filters. Other visual help includes electronic visual aids and optical magnifiers. Your low vision optometrist will work with you and prescribe the best devices for you.

Q: #2: What can cause low vision?

  • A: People with low vision have visual impairments that cannot be successfully corrected using traditional eye correction methods, like surgery, standard glasses and contact lenses. Low vision can be caused by an eye injury, eye diseases like macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, aging, certain accidents, among other factors.


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. Mark Rinkov 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. Low Vision Doctors of Ohio will be happy to help by matching you with the latest and more suitable low vision device so you can live your best life.

Low Vision Doctors of Ohio serves patients from Columbus, Worthington, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, all throughout Ohio.

Frequently Asked Questions with low vision specialist in Columbus:

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



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 Low Vision Doctors of Ohio today.

Low Vision Doctors of Ohio serves patients from Columbus, Worthington, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and throughout Ohio.

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 Low Vision Doctors of Ohio today. We can help.

Low Vision Doctors of Ohio serves patients from Columbus, Worthington, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, throughout Ohio.

REFERENCES

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. Mark Rinkov. 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.

Low Vision Doctors of Ohio helps patients in Columbus, Worthington, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and throughout Ohio.

References

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. Mark Rinkov, 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. Mark Rinkov for more advice on reading with macular degeneration or to get low vision aids and devices.

Low Vision Doctors of Ohio serves low vision patients in Columbus, Worthington, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, throughout Ohio.

 

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