Low Vision and Its Challenges

While most of us know when we need to see an eye doctor, perhaps it’s because words on a page seem blurry or signs off the highway seem unclear, we may not know what to do or who to turn to when our vision begins to fade. For those who have been diagnosed with macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and conditions for which glasses or drops have already been prescribed, patients may assume that having low vision is either par for the course or simply not treatable. But that is precisely where low vision care comes into play.

Amplify Eyecare of Greater Long Beach

Low Vision Defined

Low vision is very much what it sounds like. It makes everyday activities, from deciphering colors, to reading, to driving, to being unable to recognize others, a challenge. Low vision cannot be fixed or reversed with glasses, surgical interventions, or medication. It can be addressed however, through the use of assistive devices that enable you to enjoy activities you may have thought you’d have to give up on.

How do You Know if You are Experiencing Low Vision?

Our eyes help us see and perceive objects in various levels of light and darkness and must use available cues, both internal and external, to discern what it is they are seeing. If, for example, you experience any of the following, it may be time to see an optometrist like Dr. Heather McBryar, who specializes in low vision treatment.
  • An inability to see things directly through the center of your eye
  • Difficulty adjusting to contrasting colors
  • Decreased peripheral vision
  • Being unable to see well at night
  • Blurry or fuzzy vision
  • Sensitivity to glare
  • Difficulty adjusting your vision when you move from indoors to outdoors and vice versa
How do You Know if You are Experiencing Low Vision?
How Low Vision is Treated

How Low Vision is Treated

  • High power spectacle magnification that increases the size of words and letters
  • Glare filters that both reduce glare and increase contrast
  • Handheld magnifiers that increase print
  • Devices and apps that allow for contrast changes in newspapers and circulars
  • High power spectacle magnification that increases the size of words and letters
How Low Vision is Treated
In addition, vision rehabilitation services throughout the United States provide home visits, equipment, and concrete services to patients who meet specific guidelines. If you meet criteria, you may be eligible for items such as:
  • Optometrist recommended filters and magnifiers
  • Talking Watches
  • Large buttoned phones and kitchen appliances
  • Button dots that can be placed on appliances that use timers and temperature gauges

Vocational Rehabilitation and Treatment

For individuals who have lost their jobs due to low vision vocational rehab can help. This intervention is also helpful for those who may want to learn new skills and transition to different fields.

Vocational rehabilitation can be quite effective for teenagers transitioning from high school to the workforce, as well as those who want to pursue a college education or trade.

How do You Know if You are Experiencing Low Vision?
How Low Vision is Treated

Education and Support

Although there are a number of ways patients with low vision can live successful, productive lives, they may not know what options are available to them. Additionally, and particularly for patients who were once fully- sighted, there is a very real grief process that often takes place. Being unable to see or perceive the world around you as you once did can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, resentment, and fear.

Part of helping patients is not only giving them physical tools, but emotional support that acknowledges how they are feeling and validates their struggles. And though we don’t want folks to live in those emotional moments, we feel strongly about acknowledging and supporting them in order to help them move forward with their low vision care.

 

Low vision optometry is a field that has been around for years, but is still coming into its own. That is why we get asked all sorts of questions about what we do and how.

Common Questions

One of the biggest challenges we face is the public’s lack of awareness of low vision treatment. Realistically, patients are sometimes unsure or don’t know what low vision means because there are very few of us who provide this treatment. And when they do hear about what we do, they often don’t think to ask themselves if they should make an appointment to see us.
The short answer to this question is yes. While your optometrist focuses on eye exams and medical interventions, low vision optometrists work on visual rehabilitation. When you receive low vision services, your doctor evaluates what your vision is like today, what is needed to meet your goals, and then, how to change your plan of care over time in order to continue to meet those goals.
Certainly you are free to “just accept” the fact that your vision is declining, but you most certainly do not have to. There are ways to help you continue to engage in activities that give you meaning, pleasure. There may be a time when there are things you truly can no longer do, but low vision doesn’t have to be the end all to those activities.
Low Vision and Its Challenges
Dr. Ikeda cartoon

Why Low Vision Therapy Matters

Dr. Ikeda has visually impaired family members as well as a child with special needs who inherited some of those conditions. For her, it's the passion to improve lives that drives her practice. There are very few optometrists in the entire country who provide low vision care and she for one, is really thankful she can provide this service to her patients.

Low vision care involves so much more than seeing the world the way you used to. It is also about adapting to change and learning how to see things in an entirely different light.

Testimonials


  • I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.


    Claire A.

  • Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.


    Jim K.

  • My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!


    Teresa S.

  • The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.


    Joe M.

  • I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.


    Kayla W.

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