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Glaucoma and Low Vision

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Glaucoma and Low Vision Optometrist

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss worldwide. Glaucoma is a common eye disease that affects the optic nerve which connects the back of the eye to the brain. There are many different types of glaucoma, but the common thread amongst all of them is that it causes damage to the optic nerve which can lead to severe vision loss if not treated.  Many types of glaucoma are caused by high pressure in the eyes.  This disease can occur at any age but is most commonly developed in older adults. 

There are treatment plans which can slow down or even prevent vision loss if diagnosed early enough, however vision loss from glaucoma cannot be regained. If you are suffering from visual impairment due to glaucoma 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, your optometrist 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 glaucoma 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 Glaucoma

Visual Challenges Due to Glaucoma

There are a variety of different kinds of glaucoma, each with their own symptoms, causing different visual disturbances. There are characteristic visual impairments caused by glaucoma which can be greatly helped with low vision, some include:

  • Decrease in visual acuity
  • Damaged visual field, starting from peripheral vision and then leading to central vision over time
  • Low contrast sensitivity 
  • Glare 
  • Difficulties adapting to dark 

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

Visual Challenges Due to Glaucoma

Visual Challenges Due to Glaucoma

After the low vision eye exam, we will discuss various professional solutions with you catered to your individual needs and daily tasks or activities. Certain low vision aids will be recommended to you depending on the type of glaucoma you have and what stage the condition is at. 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 filters which can improve vision for a person with glaucoma by increasing contrast sensitivity and reducing glare. E-scoop glasses are a wonderful low vision aid for people who have early stage glaucoma 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. If you suffer from central vision loss, there are many different types of magnifying glasses which can help you, 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. 

 

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There are companies inventing 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 Glaucoma?

In order to understand how low vision can change lives for the better after being diagnosed with glaucoma, it is essential to understand this eye condition and to know what to look out for. To learn about the different types of glaucoma, the symptoms to look out for and for more information, click here

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

Yes, glaucoma can cause low vision. Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, leading to a gradual loss of vision, starting with peripheral vision and potentially progressing to central vision loss. Early detection through regular eye examinations, including a low vision exam, is essential for managing the condition, as glaucoma often shows no symptoms until significant vision loss has occurred. A low vision eye doctor can develop a treatment plan to slow or halt progression.
Treatment for low vision due to glaucoma typically includes pressure-lowering eye drops, laser procedures, or surgery to reduce intraocular pressure. In addition, a low vision optometrist can provide rehabilitation services, including assistive devices and visual aids, to help maximize remaining vision and improve the patient's quality of life. A customized approach based on a low vision exam can make daily activities more manageable.
Glaucoma commonly affects the peripheral or side vision first. It creates a tunnel-like effect, where the central vision remains clear while the side vision gradually diminishes. If left untreated, it may eventually affect central vision as well.
Unfortunately, vision loss due to glaucoma is typically permanent and cannot be restored. Once the optic nerve is damaged, the lost vision cannot be regained. Early detection and intervention by a low vision optometrist can help preserve existing vision and slow the progression of the disease. Assistive devices and rehabilitation services may be recommended after a low vision exam to support those with significant vision loss from glaucoma.
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Summary

Glaucoma is a common eye disorder in which the optic nerve is damaged and it is a leading cause of vision loss worldwide. If you have a visual impairment due to glaucoma, we would be honored to work with you to find solutions and improve your quality of life with low vision care. Please reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit for a low vision eye exam.. Our team of eye care professionals is ready and equipped to provide you with the care you need.

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