About Low Vision

There are many people who have a vision loss that is not correctable with typical eyeglasses or contact lenses. They've lost some vision and are unable to see well enough to participate in activities that are important to them. We say that these people have low vision. Eye diseases like macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, Stargardt's disease and glaucoma, among others, are common causes of low vision.
For many years there have been optometrists who help low vision patients see better so they can return to a more normal life. Special telescopic or microscopic glasses are often prescribed which help the person return to reading, driving, using a computer, participating in hobbies or crafts. Some people are able to return to work.
Most of these people have been told by their eye doctors that nothing can be done to help them. It is true that there is no cure for these diseases and the vision will not return to normal. The job of the low vision optometrist is to evaluate the person's remaining vision and prescribe appropriate glasses or other devices which magnify what is seen, making it easier to see.

Free Telephone Consultation
My practice is totally dedicated to helping low vision patients. That is all that I do. I always speak with patients before scheduling a low vision evaluation. That helps me understand how much remaining vision they have and what their goals are. I also answer questions and give the person an idea of what to expect from the evaluation and from the special glasses. I only schedule people who I can help.
Call me for a free telephone consultation. I will be happy to speak with you and I will tell you if I can help you see better. Call toll free 1 866 321-2030
I see low vision patients in offices in Roanoke, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Wytheville, VA.

More information at VirginiaLowVision.com and facebook.com/VirginiaLowVisionOptometrist

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bioptic Glasses and Driving

When I talk with people who have experienced a vision loss from eye disease I always ask what they would like to be able to do if I am able to help them. A large number would like to return to driving. Some have given up driving voluntarily and others have been unable to meet the requirements of the DMV and have lost their license. In either case they have lost their independence. They are now dependant on others to help them do the simplest of things, like a trip to the grocery store or post office or church.

Let me explain a bit about driving with low vision glasses. Bioptic telescopic glasses have small telescopes imbedded in the upper part of the regular lens. The person's eyeglass prescription is in the telescope as well as the regular lens. The telescope is used to spot things that need to be seen better like traffic signals, signs, other cars, people, etc. The person just lowers their chin a little, takes a quick look through the telescope and then goes back to driving with the main lens of the glasses, called the carrier lens. You will see examples of my patients wearing bioptic telescopes as I begin to post actual patient experiences and photos.

The laws are different in each state regarding driving with bioptic telescopes. Some allow persons to be licensed to drive with these special glasses and some states do not. All states will allow you to drive with the telescopic glasses if you already have a valid license. If you are wondering about your state's regulations you can check with the DMV or call me toll free and I'll tell you what your state allows and we can talk about whether you are likely to be able to meet the requirements. Call me at 1 866 321-2030. There is no charge for the call or the consultation.

My state, Virginia, is one of the states that issues a special driver's license for persons requiring bioptic telescopic glasses. Our DMV requires at least 20/200 in the better eye with the normal eyeglass lenses and improved to 20/70 with the bioptic. There is also a requirement of 150 degrees of peripheral vision (visual field). Once the person obtains the bioptic glasses they must use them daily for 2 months and then return to the low vision doctor for certification that they meet the above requirements.

If you think that you might require this type of license do not wait until the last minute. Call for an appointment 4 or 5 months in advance. That will allow time to have the low vision evaluation, receive the glasses and use them for the required 2 months before your license expires.

Many people have returned to safe driving by using bioptic telescopic glasses. Perhaps you could become one of them.  For more information about help for low vision go to www.VirginiaLowVision.com

"They're expensive but they are worth it."

I overheard two  patients talking about their low vision glasses yesterday.  One lady said to the other, "They're expensive, but they are worth it".  The second lady agreed.

It was interesting to hear the comment because both of the ladies have seen significant benefits from their telescopic glasses.  One lady, Laura Cunningham, was about to lose her driving privileges 3 years ago because macular degeneration had blurred her vision.  Laura's retinal specialist recommended that she come to me for help.  The bioptic telescopic glasses that I prescribed allowed her to obtain a special Virginia driver's permit.  She's kept her independence and is able to drive around the small town where she lives.  Yesterday she again passed the state's vision requirements and will be able to continue driving.  Sometimes maintaining the ability to do the things that are important to us can be expensive.  Staying independent is certainly worth it.

The second lady, Phyllis Gibson, has had significant vision problems since infancy.  She has lost vision from corneal scaring and glaucoma.  She's had corneal transplants and cataract surgery.  She has been treated by numerous doctors at some of the most prestigious eye centers on the east coast.  Phyllis told me "I've been fighting for my eyesight all of my life".  Finally, she consulted a different ophthalmologist who looked beyond treating the eye diseases and recommended that she see me.  The doctor hoped her life could be improved if low vision glasses helped her see better.

You can see Phyllis in the  photo to the right wearing the telescopic glasses that I prescribed.  With them she is able to read a standard size book, see TV better and see well for painting pictures.  She is an artist.  She has had to give up painting and is looking forward to getting back to it.  Phyllis is the lady who I quoted.  "They're expensive, but they are worth it."  It is easy to see why she feels that way.

I appreciate these two patients and the doctors who referred them to me.  Many people who have been told that nothing can be done to help them see better would benefit from low vision glasses.  Ask your doctor if you might benefit.  I'd be happy to speak with you on the phone.  Call me for a free telephone consultation.  1 866-321-2030  More info at www.VirginiaLowVision.com


Monday, January 12, 2015

Organ Donors

A patient who I saw last week reminded me of the importance of becoming an organ donor.  This nice lady has had 4 corneal transplants on her left eye.  The new corneas lasted for a while and then were rejected by her body.  Four different people, donating their corneas at their death, have kept the lady seeing.  The new corneas were required to improve her vision which had been damaged by scaring of her own cornea.  She still has scaring in her right cornea.
What a wonderful opportunity we have to give our corneas or other organs to another person when we die.  The thing is that we must make our wishes known in advance.  That is very easy to do.  In Virginia, when we renew our driver's license we can check the box indicating that we'd like to give the gift of sight or of life itself to another person by donating our organs.
I have checked that box.  I have the words "Organ Donor" with the little red heart on my driver's license.  I encourage you to do the same.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"A little more help please"

In early October I prescribed a pair of E-Scoop glasses for a lady with macular degeneration.  She had been sent to me by her ophthalmologist in Tennessee and was hoping that I could help her see better.  She especially hoped I could improve her vision for driving and reading.  A month or so after getting the E-Scoops she called to say that she loves her distance vision with them.  She feels much safer driving now.  However, some small print is still difficult for her to read.  I suggested that she return to me and bring some of the things that she was having trouble seeing with her.  I'd do my best to help.

E-Scoop Glasses
When she returned I evaluated her with the new E-Scoop glasses on and discovered that with better light and a little more magnification she was able to read very small print easily.  She left with a good, lighted hand magnifier and an OttLite. 
Yesterday she called to say that she's doing just fine now.  The light and the magnifier are just what she needs.
I tell this story to encourage people who are not seeing well with their present glasses to return to their doctor.  Bring the items that you're having trouble with and ask for more help.  There may be an easy solution as in this case.
If you've been told that nothing can be done to help your vision that is when you should consult a low vision optometrist.  Give me a call.  I will be happy to discuss your vision with you and I will tell you if low vision glasses will help.  Call 1 866 321-2030.  There is more information on my website.  www.VirginiaLowVision.com

Thursday, December 11, 2014

“I am so much happier now"

Shelby Lester has lost vision in her right eye due to macular degeneration and because of a retinal hemorrhage in the left eye. A retinal specialist has been treating the left eye with injections for over a year. Mrs. Lester heard about me and my work with low vision patients. She wanted to be able to return to driving and to be able to read. Shelby loves to sing and was unable to read the music. No glasses had ever been prescribed for her.

After evaluating Shelby’s vision and I found that with a conventional eyeglass prescription her vision improved but not enough to pass the DMV requirements. I prescribed bioptic telescopic glasses that allow her to meet the requirements for a special daylight only license. For reading and music, prismatic glasses were prescribed.

Shelby later sent me a list of the things that she is able to do with her low vision glasses:
1. “I can see the channel numbers on the TV and the picture is much clearer now.”
2. “I can see the settings on my stove, washing machine and dryer.”
3. “I can see people’s faces clearer and see things at a distance with my new low vision glasses.”
4. “The prismatic glasses really help with reading”
5. “They help me to be able to drive again.” (She later was able to obtain a driver’s permit allowing her to drive when wearing the bioptic glasses.)

“I am so much happier now. Before getting the glasses I had to depend on my husband a lot more and that made me feel very sad. I pray so many more people can be blessed by getting these glasses.”

Mrs. Lester suffered unnecessarily from her vision loss before discovering that help is available. Her low vision visit with me and the special low vision glasses that I prescribed were the beginning of happier times for her. If you are unable to see well enough to do the things that are important to you call  for a free telephone consultation. In a few minutes I will tell you if I will be able to help you see better. Call toll free 866 321-2020 for the free consultation.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Stargardt's patient told me "I Never Thought That Anything Would Help Me See Better"

A nice 30 year old lady came to see me in my Harrisonburg office.  She had suffered from Stargardt's Disease since age 9.  Her optometrist referred her hoping that I'd be able to help.  Her visual acuity was 20/240 in both eyes.  She is legally blind.  Although telescopic and microscopic glasses did not make any improvement I did prescribe a portable electronic magnifier.  She continues to use it and is able to read her checks, recipes, measurements and reading in general.

I notified her later when E Scoop glasses became available.  They have helped several of my patients and she came for a trial.  At the trial she was able to see my eyes from about 10 feet.  She could see details in the houses across the street from the office and was able to see signs 100 feet away better.

When she returned to pick up the E Scoop glasses she said "This is great.  I never thought that anything would help me see better".

If you'd like to speak with me about your vision problem please call me at 1 866 321-2030.  There is no charge for the call or for the telephone consultation.  I will ask you a few questions and tell you if low vision glasses will help you.  I understand low vision and would like to help you.  I look forward to talking with you.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Driving With Stargardt's Disease

A patient with Stargardt's Disease returned to me after using his bioptic telescopic glasses for over 5 years.  Blake White was able to obtain his drivers permit when he got the telescopic glasses.  He has been driving safely with them.  Blake returned for re evaluation as required by the DMV.  Blake and I were both pleased to find that heis still eligible to drive while wearing the special glasses.

Blake told me an interesting story.  He has been seen by another low vision doctor who is a state examiner in West Virginia.  That doctor prescribed a very small telescope, for his right eye only even though Blake's vision is almost equal in both eyes.  Blake has been unable to wear them and prefers the wide angle telescopes that I prescribed.  He misses the left telescope and also the wide view of the pair that I prescribed.  He drives a lot and only uses the wide angle pair.

Years ago when I was a state examiner here in Virginia I realized that the devices available through the state were not always best for the patient.  I gave up serving as a low vision examiner for the State of Virginia years ago.  Since then I am able to prescribe what is most helpful for the patient, not just what the state will pay for.

Here is the point.  If you have had a low vision evaluation and are not happy with the devices prescribed it may be helpful to see another doctor.  Someone with a different perspective. A doctor who is not limited by the state may be able to help you.  I invite you to give me a call.  Let's talk it over.  I will tell you on the phone if I will be able to help you.  Call me toll free at 866 321-2030 For more information on help for low vision go to www.VirginiaLowVision.com #stargardtsdisease#bioptictelescopes

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

More Information About Low Vision Glasses

If you are interested in what is available to help people with low vision and how I can help please look at my website and Facebook page.  I keep them updated and there is much more information than what you see on this blog.  Click the links below.  If you'd like to speak with me about your low vision please give me a call.  There is no charge for the telephone consultation.  1 866 321-2030  http://virginialowvision.com/


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Free Telephone Consultation with Dr. Armstrong, the video

I have just added a video to my website that describes the free telephone consultation that I offer low vision patients.  The consultation helps me get an idea of the person's remaining vision and their goals.  That information allows me to tell the patient if I will be able to help them.  I only schedule people who I am quite certain that I can help.  I invite you to click the link below and watch the video.  Then give me a call.  1 866 321-2030  I will be happy to discuss your vision challenges with you.  I would love to help you see better.  http://virginialowvision.com/videos.html#consult 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Vision Loss from Sarcoidosis

   I had the opportunity this month to help a lady who's vision loss is the result of sarcoidosis.  Sarcoidosis is a condition that mainly effects the lungs but sometimes the eyes as well.  Tiny collections of inflammatory cells grow in the body.  There us usually accompanying fatigue, fever, swolen lymph nodes and loss of weight.  When sarcoidosis affects the eyes it may blur the vision, cause pain and redness.  Light sensitivity is common.
   My patient, Linda, has a profound vision loss in her right eye resulting from a bout of sarcoidosis 3 years ago.  She wears a contact lens in the left eye and her best vision is 20/40.  She is being followed by two ophthalmologists and has to retire from her job due to her vision loss.  She came to me asking for help with driving, reading and recognizing other people's face.
I evaluated Linda's vision with several different types of low vision glasses and prescribed a new one-piece E Scoop pair.  They improve her vision with the left eye for both distance and reading vision.      Unfortunately, the right eye interferes with her vision when she is reading and it is necessary for her to cover it.
   When I spoke with her a couple weeks after she received the glasses she told me that they are especially helpful when she is reading.  She is able to small print like account numbers on bills much better.
   There are many diseases and conditions that can damage vision.  What I need to know is how much vision the person has remaining for me to work with.  The exact cause of the vision loss is not as important to me as the remaining vision.
   If you have suffered a loss of vision I may be able to help.  Give me a call at 1 866 321-2030 and I will be happy to discuss your vision with you.  by asking a few questions I can tell you if low vision glasses will help.  I'd love to speak with you and help you see better.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bioptic Driving Video

   All of my patients have reduced vision.  When I ask what activities they most want me to help with the top two are reading and driving.  Because I screen patients by phone before scheduling them I am usually able to help them achieve their goals.

   Most states allow people with low vision to drive while wearing bioptic telescopic glasses.  The states issue a special license to these people.  I thought that it would be interesting for people to see how someone drives with bioptics and to actually have a chance to look through them.  So I have posted a selfie video on my website.  The video shows me driving while wearing bioptic glasses.  As I drive along I explain them and discuss the requirements for obtaining a permit in Virginia.  Finally I park and give the viewer an opportunity to look through the glasses and see what I am seeing.
   If you'd like to learn about bioptic driving take a look at the video.  I hope you find it interesting.  Just click on this link to get to the video.  www.VirginiaLowVision.com #biopticdriving #bioptictelescopes

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

iPhone Helps for the Visually Impaired

Yesterday a man who I've known since he was a child came in to have a small repair made to his telescopic glasses.  TJ is now 53 years old and his vision has been worsening gradually over the years.  While he was here he gave me an amazing demonstration of how a smart phone can help someone with a severe vision loss.
We were talking about guitar music and he mentioned a couple classical guitar artists who he enjoys.  I was in one room and he in another and I heard him talking to his phone.  He was making requests of "Siri" that I was not really paying attention to.  In a couple minutes he came in holding the phone and he asked if I'd like to hear some music by Doc Watson.  He immediately started the music playing.  He wanted me to hear some other artists and by making requests of Siri and Pandora we were able to enjoy a couple others of his favorites.
He told me that he had asked Siri for directions to my office.  TJ was not the driver. He and Siri were navigating. 
TJ showed me how he could ask Siri for a particular type of music from Pandora.  When a list of selections came up on the screen he touched each one and the iPhone spoke the name of the musician and the song.  Pretty amazing.
He demonstrated how the phone is able to help him find helpful information.  He asked Siri to find a recipe for deviled eggs.  Sure enough, it popped right up.
TJ has spent a lot of time mastering the many different ways that the iPhone can help him and it is a tremendous help.  What a blessing this fantastic technology is to a person with a visual impairment.