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

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Low Vision Videos

I have posted several YouTube videos that may be interesting to anyone dealing with low vision.    Here is a partial list of links:

Low Vision Glasses for Reading
Bioptic Telescopic Glasses
Driving with Bioptic Glasses
"I've been fighting for my eyesight all of my life."
Free Telephone Consultation with Dr. Armstrong

There is more info on my website www.VirginiaLowVision.com

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

"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.

Friday, May 29, 2015

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

Friday, May 22, 2015

The following brief article from today's edition of AOA Today points out the connection between low income and vision loss.  The problems listed are all blinding diseases and in most cases can be treated successfully.  Note that the CDC points out the importance of regular eye exams for early detection. 

Leading The News

Report: Severe Vision Loss Most Prevalent In The South.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/22, Stobbe) reports that a report Share to FacebookShare to Twitter published May 22 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report finds that “the South was home to three-quarters of the US counties with the highest prevalence of severe vision loss.” There are also “higher rates of poverty, diabetes and chronic disease” in the South, and “health officials believe those problems are all related to the vision loss.”
        The NPR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/22, Shute) “Shots” blog reports that “cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration are the most common causes of vision loss in adults.” However, “regular eye exams would identify problems early on, before people start losing vision, the report notes.”

Friday, April 17, 2015

“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.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sad Consequences of Low Vision

A study reported in the British Journal of Ophthalmology brings up another possible consequence of vision loss, suicidal thoughts or attempts.  The online newsletter of the American Optometric Association, AOA First Look, contained the following brief article with link to an article in Reuters which you can read if you wish.
This study highlights a whole new possible consequence of low vision.  While I have not heard of possible suicide, I have been told by patients or their family that they've  suffered from depression since losing vision.  It is not surprising.  When vision decreases to the level where someone can no longer drive, read or recognize faces they have lost independence.  That can be devastating.  It is a very difficult adjustment to go from life long good vision to dealing with the consequences of macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma.
Reading the Reuters article may give you a bit more insight into the issues faced by a person with low vision.  Happily, some of these people can regain independence through the use of special low vision devices, microscopic or telescopic glasses as well as other types of devices.  You can read of the successes of some of my patients on my Facebook page.  www.Facebook.com/VirginiaLowVisionOptometrist

Study: As Vision Worsens, Suicidal Thoughts, Attempts May Increase.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/28, Lehman) reported that a study Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/30) published online March 2 in the British Journal of Ophthalmology suggests that people with vision loss were often prone to suffer psycho-social issues and were more likely to have suicidal thoughts and make suicide attempts compared to those with normal vision. The study, which included nearly 30,000 adults followed between 2008-2012, also revealed that deteriorating vision was tied to a worsening in quality of life.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Keep Your Eyes Healthy

Today's issue of AOA First Look includes the following synopsis of a US News & World Report article about protecting your eyes from some of the main causes of low vision.  Click the link to read this helpful information.  For people who have lost vision from eye disease or some other cause a low vision optometrist may be able to help.
I speak with all low vision patients before scheduling an appointment.  By asking a few questions about your remaining vision and your goals I will be able to tell you if low vision glasses will help you.  There is no charge for the telephone consultation or the toll free call.  Call me at 1 866 321-2030.  More information on my website www.VirginiaLowVision.com

National Eye Institute Offers Advice To Keep Eyes Healthy.

US News & World Report Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Woodham) says a recent report from The Vision Council notes that 1 in 28 Americans over the age of 40 are suffering from “low vision, a visual impairment that cannot be repaired by glasses, contact lenses, medicine or surgery.” But Dr. Rachel Bishop, chief of the consult services section at the National Eye Institute, says there are steps that can be taken to reduce eye problems such as cataracts: “The first is not smoking. The second is protecting their eyes from sunlight by wearing sunglasses. UV light exposure is associated with cataract but also with other problems in the eye, so we recommend people wear UV-protection sunglasses when out in the bright daylight.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"Magnification? How much do I need? What's best for me?"

   I always ask my low vision patients to bring their glasses and magnifiers with them to the low vision evaluation.  I want to see what they have been using and how much it helps them.  What I have learned is that there are a lot of poor quality magnifiers out there and the average person has no way of telling the good from the bad.  Usually, they arrive with magnifiers that they bought at the drug store or some big box store and the lens is very poor quality.  Often the magnification is not nearly enough to help the person.  Sometimes they have way too much magnification.  No wonder they don't get the help they need from the magnifiers.
   Recently a man came for his low vision evaluation who had a brand new electronic magnifier.  He'd bought it on line for $200.  He had not even tried it yet.  It was brand new.  Electronic magnification seemed appropriate for him so I showed him a device that I have found to be the best choice for many of my patients.  It has a bigger screen, clearer picture and more features than his on line purchase.  He immediately saw the difference and purchased the one that I recommended.  He planned to give the on line magnifier to a friend because now he has one that suited his needs better.
   I tell this story to illustrate the importance of being evaluated by a low vision optometrist.  Let someone who understands the various types of magnification and what is appropriate for your problem help you.  When you have a vision loss from macular degeneration or some other eye disease you need the best help that you can get.  Ordering on line or buying a magnifier at the store is taking a shot in the dark.  Your chance of getting what will serve you best is very slight. Give me a call for a free telephone consultation.  I will tell you if I can help you and when I've evaluated your vision I will recommend what is best for your needs.  Call me toll free 1 866 321-2030.  For more information go to www.VirginiaLowVision.com 

Thursday, February 19, 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

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"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