About Low Vision

Low vision is not the same as blindness. A person with low vision has some useful sight but has difficulty with the performance of daily activities. Conventional glasses do not provide sufficient vision for reading, watching TV, using a computor, driving and other visual activities. Many eye conditions cause low vision. A low vision optometrist, like Dr. Armstrong, is often able to prescribe special telescopic or microscopic glasses to magnify what is seen. People who have been told that they are legally blind can often be helped. Dr. Armstrong prefers to prescribe the magnification in glasses so both hands are free. Your doctor may have told you that nothing can be done to help you.The doctor is correct. Nothing can be done to cure conditions causing low vision. However, a low vision doctor can evaluate the remaining vision and prescribe microscopic or telescopic eyeglasses which maximize the available vision. Low vision glasses are prescribed to meet the needs of each person so the costs vary. Usually low vision glasses for reading cost about $850. Telescopic glasses for driving or distance vision cost around $2000. Medicare, supplemental and other insurances may pay part of the low vision evaluation but not the low vision glasses.

Free Telephone Consultation

Call Dr. Armstrong toll free 866 321-2030 for a free telephone consultation. Dr. Armstrong will ask you questions to determine if low vision glasses will help you. The appointment will be made only if Dr. Armstrong feels that he will be able to help you achieve your goals.

Dr Armstrong sees low vision patients in Roanoke, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Wytheville, Virginia.

For more information visit: http://www.virginialowvision.com/

on Facebook @ Virginia Low Vision Optometrist, Dr. David L. Armstrong

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Nice Letter From A Patient

I always appreciate it when patients take the time to write or call and let me know how they are doing. This week I received a letter from a lady who I'd helped several months ago. She has macular degeneration and wanted help so she'd be able to go back to driving. As you can see, she is very pleased. Dear Dr. Armstrong, Thanks for the kindness you have shown and the opportunity for me to have better vision. The eyewear has been a blessing and I can now drive. It was very much appreciated. May God bless you! Sincerely, Terri

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why I love helping low vision patients

Helping low vision patients can be challenging but it is also very rewarding. Each person comes with different expectations and hopes. There are activities that are particularly important to them that they'd like help with. Each of them has a different level of remaining vision. In some the two eyes are similarly effected by their problem. In many there is a difference between the eyes. Sometimes the difference is profound. Each patient is different. My challenge, and the reason that I enjoy this work, is to solve the puzzle of what is the best way to help this patient achieve their goal. Any doctor who is serious about helping patients who have lost vision will have many different types of glasses and other devices available for testing and prescription. Each type of glasses can be modified to focus the distance of the task. Sometimes a tint in the lenses can make a big difference. Each patients presents their own challenges and opportunities. Solving the mystery of how to help that particular patient is a challenge that I truly love. I am blessed to be a part of helping people improve their lives.

Friday, March 21, 2014

More Low Vision Info on Facebook

I hope you'll take a look at my Facebook page. It's dedicated to low vision. I am posting interesting news related to people with macular degeneration, Stargardt's Disease, diabetic retinopathy and other diseases that reduce vision. In addition to that I post helpful tips for low vision patients, new developments and interesting patient experiences. The page can be reached by the link below. I hope you will take a look and decide to "Like" the page. As always, if you have questions or would like to discuss your vision problems give me a call. My toll free number 1 866 321-2030 gets you to the answering service and I'll personally call you back within a couple days. I hope you find the my Facebook page interesting and helpful. Please cut and paste the Facebook address below to access my Page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Virginia-Low-Vision-Optometrist-Dr-David-L-Armstrong/660124997350141

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Helping a Delightful 93 Year Old Lady

This past week I had a very delightful low vision patient. Catherine is 93 years old. She has been getting good care from her ophthalmologist for many years. His treatment has kept her vision stable and she was told that nothing else would help her. Catherine's vision loss comes from macular degeneration and she also has diabetes. With her better eye, Catherine sees about 20/400 with her glasses. She's legally blind. She always been a great reader and asked me to help her get back to reading. Because of the severity of her vision loss I began the low vision evaluation with a 4X Clear Image microscopic lens over her better eye. To my surprise, she easily read the smallest print on my reading card. She had no trouble reading the newspaper with the 4X microscopic glasses. Catherine has been relying on someone else to fill the syringe for her insulin shots. Due to her vision loss she is not able to accurately perform that daily task. Three times she accurately set a syringe with the microscopic glasses. Catherine was disappointed that she had forgotten to bring her iPad Mini with her. She likes to play games and go on Facebook. Luckily I had my Mini with me and she was able to see it well and read the messages on Facebook. It was a pleasure for me to be able to help this nice lady accomplish these tasks that she'd been unable to do previously. I've ordered the the Clear Image microscopic glasses which will include her prescription for astigmatism. She will be returning to me in a couple weeks to receive them. I am sure that she'll get lots of use from them. If you have given up activities that you enjoy and been told that nothing can be done to improve your vision it may be time to ask for a second opinion. Call me for a free telephone consultation. I'll ask you a few questions and tell you if special low vision glasses will help you. I only schedule low vision patients who I am quite certain that I can help. Call me toll free 1 866 321-2030. #lowvisionglasses #legalblindness #maculardegeneration

Monday, March 10, 2014

Macular Degeneration. Legally Blind? Maybe, Maybe Not

A few days ago I saw two patients who had recently been told by their retinal specialists that they were legally blind and must stop driving.  The first patient, a West Virginian, received a letter from the retinal specialist stating that his best vision with glasses was right eye 20/400 and left eye 20/300.  That meets the definition of legal blindness.  The patient's children asked him to quit driving although his wife, who often rode with him, had not noticed that he was having any problems driving.  When he came to me for help his visual acuity  was 20/120 in the better eye with his glasses.  That's not legally blind but still not good enough to drive.

After a thorough low vision evaluation I prescribed spectacle miniature (bioptic) telescopic glasses.  With them he sees 20/50 with his better eye.  That will allow him to obtain a special license to drive in West Virginia while wearing the telescopic glasses.

This man was quite aggravated that the previous doctor had not actually checked his vision himself.  He relied on a staff person to do that.

The other patient is a young Virginian who suffers from Stargardt's disease.  Her vision without any lenses is 20/120 with each eye.  Definitely not legally blind.  Wearing the telescopic glasses that I prescribed, her vision improves to better than 20/60 with each eye.  She will be able to drive in Virginia with a special permit requiring her to wear the telescopic glasses.

In a busy ophthalmolgy office patients are often turned over to staff members to do some of the basic testing.  Especially with someone who has reduced vision from eye disease, that may not be the best thing for the patient.  Both of these people had been told by the doctor, as a result of the technician's testing, that they must give up driving.  In both cases, careful testing revealed much better vision than they had been told. 

If you've been told that you should not drive because of your vision it may be a good idea to consult a low vision optometrist who will take the time to carefully evaluate and prescribe appropriate help.  Of course, there are times when people must give up driving for safety reasons and I respect their decision to do that.  Giving up driving is not an easy thing to do. Give me a call for a free telephone consultation. I will tell you if low vision glasses will help you get back to activities that you have had to give up. Call me toll free 1 866 321-2030 #stargardtsdisease #biopticdriving

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"I love my telescopic glasses"

Jacob Wayman
Jacob is a young man who's had reduced vision since he was 16 years old. That's when he was diagnosed with dominant optic atrophy. Dominant optic atrophy is a condition which causes degeneration of the optic nerves resulting in a gradual vision loss. Jacob came to me realizing that his vision was declining and that he might soon lose his driver's permit. He wanted to continue driving and had heard that I often prescribe telescopic glasses for driving. The DMV has special requirements to obtain a license for driving with the special bioptic telescopic glasses. Jacob was hoping that I would be able to prescribe glasses for him so he'd be able to meet those requirements. The Virginia DMV requires that a person be able to see at least 20/200 with their better eye using their regular glasses or no glasses. Jacob saw better than that with his right eye. He has normal peripheral vision which is the second requirement. With a 2.2X bioptic he was able to read 20/70 letters, accomplishing the third requirement. The telescopic glasses that I prescribed for Jacob allow him to meet all the requirements for a bioptic license. I spoke with Jacob today and asked how his first month with the bioptics is going. He loves them. He has been driving his car and his 4 wheeler with them. He told me how much he enjoys driving through the woods on his 4 wheeler now that he can see better. A bonus is that they help him see television. He can sit farther from the TV and enjoys seeing the picture better. Optic atrophy, like many other conditions that damage the eyesight can be a real game changer in someone's life. Luckily in many cases we are able to help people get back to a more normal life by improving their vision. Low vision glasses, like Jacob's bioptics, can make a positive change in the life of someone who is losing their sight. If you are dealing with reduced vision and would like to be able to drive, read, use your computer, watch your children or grandchildren play, give me a call. Just call me toll free at 1 866 321-2030. We can talk over your goals and I'll let you know if I will be able to help you. I do not accept low vision patients without speaking with them by phone first. If I feel that I will be able to make an improvement for you we can schedule an appointment. I do not schedule people who I do not think I will be successful with. Give me a call. The phone consultation is free. I'd love to be able to help you.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"I have some hope"




I received the above email from a West Virginia man. He came with a long history of low vision related to a high amount of nearsightedness, retinal detachment and cataracts.  Even after cataract surgery his vision is less than necessary for driving in WV.  In addition to driving he wants to be able to see better to read and to see his students better in the classroom.

After a thorough evaluation of his vision with a variety of low vision glasses and other devices I was able to help him with almost all of his goals.  As you can see from the note above he is very pleased. #lowvision

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Phone Call from a Stargardt's Patient

I was speaking today with a lady from Florida who has been dealing with #Stargardt's Disease for many years. She'd discovered information about my low vision practice by surfing around the internet. Like many people with Stargardt's she checks often to see if any progress is being made that might help her. As I do with all low vision patients, I questioned her on the phone trying to determine if she has enough vision for her to benefit from low vision glasses. I want to be as positive as I can be that I will be able to help a person before I schedule their evaluation appointment. I do not schedule people unless I am quite certain that I'll be able to improve things for them I questioned the lady about her vision and found out that she is able to read if she uses a magnifier. She has a couple of them. With the strongest she is able to read magazine print. Of course, it is quite awkward reading with a magnifier and she would rather be using glasses. Based on the questioning I told her that I was quite certain that I'd be able to help her. She has made an appointment and will be coming to see me in Virginia in a few weeks. I appreciate all of my patients but especially admire the desire and perseverance of those who travel so far. It is so unfortunate that low vision help is unavailable closer to their homes. My experience helping Stargardt's patients has been very good. I've found that they adapt very well to microscopic and telescopic glasses as well as the other low vision devices that I prescribe. I am looking forward to helping this nice lady. #stargardtsdisease

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

More Low Vision Info on Facebook and My Website

"Like" me on Facebook at Virginia Low Vision Optometrist, Dr. David L. Armstrong. Check out my low vision practice website www.VirginiaLowVision.com. They are sources of updated information about what I do and what I offer to patients with macular degeneration, Stargardt's Disease, Rod-Cone dystrophy, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma,retinitis pigmentosa and other types of vision loss.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Woman with Diabetes, Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration helped to read

The three greatest causes of vision loss and blindness are diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration. Any one of them can have devastating effects on a person's eyesight and their life. This past week I had the opportunity to perform a low vision evaluation on a lady (GW) who had all three conditions and was asking for help in seeing better for some of the day to day activities that she had given up.

The top 4 things on GW's wish list were to be able to read her Bible, read her mail, use her checkbook and use her computer. Following a thorough low vision evaluation using low vision glasses she was able to do all of these things.

GW had no prescription glasses. Her doctor had recommended that she go to the store and find a pair of readers, telling her that nothing else could be done to help. She also had a low power hand magnifier. Her distance visual acuity with the right eye was 20/240 and 20/700 with the left. When I measured the power of her eyes I found that there was a moderate amount of astigmatism in each eye. Correcting that alone did not improve her vision very much.

A 4X Clear Image microscopic lens combined with the astigmatism correction allowed GW to read a large print Bible easily. With that lens she read letters one third the size that she could with the readers.

When the astigmatism correction was used along with a 2.2X bioptic telescopic lens for distance vision GW was able to read 20/60 letters, one fourth the size that she was able to read with no lenses. She was able to see her husband's face well from about 20 feet and saw the cars and people well when she tested the bioptics outdoors.

GW has ordered the Clear Image microscopic glasses for reading, the bioptic telescopic glasses for television and to recognize faces when she is at church or shopping. In addition, she will have a lens cap for the telescopic glasses that will allow her to use her computer with them.

Although this nice lady has the three most damaging eye diseases she responded very well to low vision glasses and I expect her to enjoy them.

You might think that someone with this combination of eye diseases could not find help. The reason that I accepted her as a patient and is that I'd interviewed her by phone and was sure in advance of her appointment that I could help. I do not accept low vision patients until we have talked by phone and I feel that they have sufficient vision that I can help them achieve their goals.

If you would like to talk about your low vision problem and your goals please give me a call. We can quickly determine if I will be able to help you. Call me toll free 1 866 321-2030. #maculardegeneration

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Reading with Low Vision Glasses

Before I accept someone as a low vision patient I always speak with them by phone. I question them about their remaining vision and their goals and I'm able to tell them if I will be able to help them with low vision glasses. I do not schedule anyone for a low vision evaluation unless I think that I will be able to help them. When I ask about their goals, what activities they would like help with, the two most common replies are reading and driving. Those are very important to most people. If your vision loss has taken away your ability to read and to drive you have lost your independance. Reading and driving are both learned skills that can be lost by lack of use. I have seen patients who have not read for a year or two who have lost the ability. When I improve their vision with microscopic glasses which allow them to read very small letters or numbers they struggle reading words or sentences. They can see the words but are unable to say them. I know that it will take lots of practice reading with the low vision glasses before they become fluent again. I encourage you, if your vision is beginning to cause trouble with reading, to call for a telephone consultation. Don't wait until your vision is so poor that reading is impossible. It is much better to seek help from a low vision optometrist while you are still able to read. You will adapt easier and benefit more the sooner you get help from low vision glasses. If you are having trouble reading, driving or with other visual tasks and have been diagnosed with macular degeneration, Stargardt's, diabetic retinopathy or some other damaging eye condition give me a call. I will be happy to speak with you. We will discuss your current level of vision, your goals and I will tell you if low vision glasses will help you. Call me toll free at 1 (866) 321-2030 for a free telephone consultation. Don't wait until you have stopped reading and are beginning to lose your reading skills

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Microscopic Glasses to Help Control Diabetes Better

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness. Studies have shown that people who control their diabetes well are less likely to develop diabetic eye disease. Therefore, well controlled diabetics are at less risk of blindness. A nice, 85 year old man came to me last week. He has lost some vision due to diabetic retinopathy. Laser surgery has helped control the vision loss but many visual activities are difficult for him. Insulin injections are required to control his diabetes and he was having trouble reading the markings on the syringe. A few times he's given himself too much or to little insulin. His family is concerned about him. I asked him to set a syringe at 15 units, a task he does a couple times each day. Both times he tried, wearing his regular eyeglasses, he missed the mark. One time he was off by 5 units and the other by 10 units. His family's concern is well founded. I evaluated his vision with Clear Image microscopic glasses and he was able to set the syringe correctly each time he tried. I have prescribed the Clear Image glasses. They will help him with other close activities but most importantly, he will be keeping his diabetes in better control.