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Age Related Macular Degeneration and Low Vision

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Age Related Macular Degeneration and Low Vision Optometrist
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Age related macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss worldwide.  As the name states, it is a condition common in senior citizens and is a progressive disease in the part of the retina, called the macula. There are two types of this condition, dry or wet AMD. Age related macular degeneration begins dry, which is the less serious kind of AMD and if it is not treated, it can become the more severe type which is wet AMD.

There are treatment plans which can slow down or even prevent vision loss if diagnosed early enough, however vision loss from macular degeneration cannot be regained. If you are suffering from visual impairment due to AMD and it seems as though the door has been shut on your ability to perform visual tasks, there is no need to despair. Low vision opens the door to a world of possibilities which incorporates your visual abilities that have not been lost in order to be able to enjoy your vision.

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What to Expect at a Low Vision Eye Exam

Low vision is a field devoted to finding solutions despite a visual impairment that is creating obstacles in the way you live your day to day life. When you visit an optometrist for a low vision eye exam, they will do a special eye exam that evaluates your remaining vision, at a distance and from close up. Additionally, your field of vision will be evaluated and your contrast sensitivity will be checked, amongst other low vision tests. You will discuss together which visual tasks you are finding challenging and they will then work with you to find solutions that will enable you to accomplish what you set out to do. 

There are a variety of visual aids that can be extremely useful to help you see despite your macular degeneration diagnosis. If you have a family member or caretaker who is instrumental in helping you with your daily needs, it is highly recommended that they attend the appointment as well. It will give them the opportunity to learn more about your visual impairment so that they can understand how it impacts you functionally, enabling them to support you more effectively.

Visual Challenges Due to Macular Degeneration

Visual Challenges Due to Macular Degeneration

There are characteristic visual impairments caused by macular degeneration which can be greatly helped with low vision, some include:

  • Decrease in visual acuity
  • Blurry vision 
  • Blind spot in central visual field
  • Straight lines appear distorted
  • Colors appear dull
  • Decrease in contrast sensitivity 
  • Glare 

All of these visual challenges can make it very difficult for a person with macular degeneration to function and accomplish tasks like they used to, prior to developing AMD. The field of low vision offers many solutions and visual aids to allow a person with AMD to reclaim their independence.

Visual Challenges Due to Macular Degeneration

Visual Challenges Due to Macular Degeneration

After the low vision eye exam, your optometrist will discuss various professional solutions with you catered to your individual needs and daily tasks or activities. The visual aids range from simple household products, to special glasses and electronic devices. There are so many possibilities of low vision aids that can help you increase your quality of life and some examples will be discussed here. 

There are many different types of magnifying glasses which can help central vision loss, such as handheld, standing or spectacle form and they can assist you to zoom in on what you’re trying to read or work on. Filters can improve vision for a person with macular degeneration by increasing contrast sensitivity and reducing glare. E-scoop glasses are a wonderful low vision aid as it includes many optical features that can help you reclaim your independence despite the vision loss you are experiencing. A device called a CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) has been created to enable you to scan what you’re trying to read onto a screen. The CCTV enlarges the text and can provide various features, including increasing contrast between the text and the background. 

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There are companies that invented cutting edge technology, each offering their own unique visual experience which enhances your vision and some of these include OrCam, IrisVision or eSight, just to name a few. In addition to the visual aids, properly adjusting the lighting in your home under the guidance of a professional low vision optometrist can really make an impact on how you see. There are also some simple assistive tools, such as placing rubbery adhesive bumps, known as tactile dots, on different flat buttons around your home to help you find the buttons easier.

What is Macular Degeneration?

In order to understand how low vision can change lives for the better after being diagnosed with macular degeneration, it is essential to understand this eye condition and to know what to look out for. Learn about the different kinds of macular degeneration and for more information.

Visual Challenges Due to Macular Degeneration
Low Vision optometry and eye care
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Common Questions

Yes, macular degeneration is typically classified as a form of low vision. The disease affects the central part of the retina called the macula, leading to a gradual loss of vision. A low vision eye doctor can evaluate the severity and provide specialized treatment and tools to help individuals cope with vision reduction, thereby improving their ability to perform daily activities.
Macular degeneration primarily affects the central field of vision. While peripheral vision usually remains intact, the loss of central vision can lead to difficulties in recognizing faces, reading, or performing tasks that require detailed vision. A visit to a low vision optometrist can offer strategies to manage these challenges.
The loss of vision with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is generally gradual and varies from person to person. It may take several months to many years, depending on the type and severity of the condition. Regular check-ups with an eye care professional can help in managing and possibly slowing the progression.
AMD patients typically experience a blurring or distortion of their central vision. They may see straight lines as wavy or have a blank or dark spot in the center of their visual field. Peripheral vision usually remains unaffected, but the loss of central vision can significantly impact daily activities.
Yes, many macular degeneration patients can still read, but they may require assistance. This could include using magnification tools, adaptive lighting, or special reading devices designed for people with low vision. Consulting with a low vision optometrist can provide personalized solutions to help maintain reading ability despite vision impairment.
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Summary

If you are suffering from vision loss due to macular degeneration, we can help you reclaim your independence and enjoy activities you used to partake in prior to developing a visual impairment. Low vision offers many solutions and visual aids to help enhance your quality of life. To schedule a low vision eye exam, you can reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit. Our team of eye care professionals is ready and equipped to provide you with the care you need.

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