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

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.

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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What is Stargardt’s Disease?

  Stargardt’s Disease, a type of macular degeneration, effects over 25,000 Americans, occurring in about one in 10,000 children. Because it begins in children and young adults it is also known as Juvenile Onset Macular Degeneration. Like the more common Age Related Macular Degeneration, Stargardt’s damages the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision. As the central vision gets worse, reading, driving and other tasks requiring sharp vision become more difficult. Eventually Stargardt’s victims are unable to perform these tasks. Although the peripheral vision is unharmed, that is small comfort for the person who has lost the best, sharpest part of their vision.  Children of a parent with Stargardt’s Disease have a 25-50% chance of developing the disease themselves.
  There is no cure or treatment for Stargardt’s Disease. Persons with Stargardt’s are advised to protect their eyes from sunlight by using good sunglasses which filter out ultraviolet light. Genetic counseling is also recommended.
  My experience has been that persons with Stargardt's Disease do very well with low vision glasses. They are often able to return to driving and other important activities. Anyone suffering a vision loss from Stargardt’s should consult a low vision optometrist for an evaluation.
  You can call me toll free to discuss your vision problem.  I will be happy to speak with you.  After asking you questions about your remaining vision and your goals I will tell you if I can help you with low vision glasses.   Call me at 866 321-2020#stargardtsdisease

Friday, September 5, 2014

Driving Safely With Bioptic Telescopic Glasses

Kelly Henley returned to see me last week to be recertified for driving with bioptic telescopic glasses.  In 1996 Kelly was told that he had to give up driving.  His vision was getting worse and he was no longer able to meet the Virginia DMV vision requirements.  He'd been diagnosed years before with juvenile macular degeneration (Stargardt's disease).

Kelly Henley
It was not until the spring of 2013 that Kelly learned that he might be able to obtain a special driver's permit allowing him to drive while wearing bioptic glasses.  His optometrist referred him to me for a low vision evaluation and I prescribed the bioptics.  After using them for a couple months he applied for a learner's permit and then the special license.  The DMV examiner was pleased with Kelly's driving during a road test and he was granted the license.
At his visit last week I heard how well he is doing driving with the glasses and how happy he is to be back on the road.  He and his wife recently took a vacation trip to the Smokey Mountains and Kelly drive the entire way,  at least 400 miles.
Kelly Henley is a great example of how someone with a vision loss can return to normal activities by using low vision glasses.  He's gotten his independence back.  He's happy and I am happy to have been able to help him.
If you have a vision loss from Stargardt's or some other cause you owe it to yourself to investigate low vision glasses.  Give me a call.  I will be happy to discuss your vision and your goals.  I'll tell you if I can help.  There is no charge for the call or the telephone consultation.  Call me at 866 321-2030

"Damn! I can read with that!"

A ninety year old lady who'd been referred by her ophthalmologist came for her low vision evaluation today.  She has both glaucoma and macular degeneration.  The vision in her right eye is almost completely gone.  With the left she sees only 20/160 with her glasses.  For the past 3 months she has not seen well enough to read.  Her caregiver has been reading to her.  All she wanted help with is to be able to read.  She brought two large print Danielle Steel novels with her hoping that I'd be able to prescribe some low vision glasses and she'd be able to read them.

Because of some physical limitations resulting from Parkinson's Disease she was unable to use the glasses and hand magnifiers that I tested her with.  I then demonstrated a desktop electronic magnifier.  That device allowed her to look straight ahead at the screen while her novel lay on a flat surface below.  She did not have to hold the book or lower her head.  Without hesitation she began reading. 

I asked her what she thought about the device and she responded "Damn!  I can read with that."

There are a lot of ways to help people who have lost some of their vision.  I prefer to prescribe low vision glasses because they allow the person to have both hands free to hold a book or sign a check.  They can be carried easily allowing them to be used anywhere you go.  Sometimes a hand magnifier works better and sometimes, like this lady, a desktop electronic magnifier is the best thing.

A low vision optometrist like myself is aware of the many possibilities and by evaluating the remaining vision and the person's goals can recommend the appropriate help.  If you'd like to talk with me about your vision problem please call me toll free 1 866 321-2030.  There is no charge for the call or the telephone consultation.  I'll be happy to speak with you and tell you if I can help.