Explore how tints or filters can improve vision for someone with low vision, understand different tint types, and learn to choose the right one with our optometrist's comprehensive guide.
There are so many ways to improve the vision of our patients with low vision, one such approach is the use of various tints or colored filters in lenses for low vision. These tints can significantly improve the visual experience for people suffering from conditions like macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and other low vision impairments.
While the exact reason why some people find different lenses improve their ability to reduce glare, improve contrast, or create a calming effect, is not entirely clear, the impact of color on the visual system is gaining traction in the world of specialty eyecare. As the main organization in this field, the College of Syntonic Optometry states "Syntonics, or optometric phototherapy, is the branch of ocular science dealing with the application of selected light frequencies through the eyes. It has been used clinically for over 80 years in the field of optometry with continued success."
Let's delve deeper into how these tints work and their potential benefits.
Before discussing the role of tints, it's crucial to comprehend what low vision signifies. Low vision is a term used to describe significant visual impairment that can't be fully corrected with standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication, or even surgery. The World Health Organization classifies low vision based on visual acuity and field of view. The condition can significantly impact a person's quality of life, hindering their ability to perform daily tasks such as reading, driving, or recognizing faces.
Low vision may result in some of the following vision problems:
A low vision optometrists goal is to help the patient understand the tools and options available to maximize visual function and improve the quality of life.
A tinted or filtered lens works by filtering out specific wavelengths of color, one example that is familiar to most are sunglasses, which filter out light that is in the Ultra Violet (UV) range, 100-400nm. However light as we see it is a combination of the colors along the spectrum, filters or tints, are used to specifically filter out wavelengths along that spectrum. Filter lenses have a color to them, although in many cases the color of the lens is something that the patient enjoys. While there are generally recommended lenses for different conditions and symptoms, each patient will have a different experience, and part of the process of fitting tinted lenses on a patient with low vision is to assess the effect of a particular filter on the patient.
Tinted or filter lenses, when applied to eyeglasses, can assist in managing light sensitivity, improving contrast sensitivity, reducing glare, and enhancing depth perception. The primary role of tints in the context of low vision is to manipulate light entering the eyes, aiming to optimize the remaining vision. Perhaps the clearest benefit of tinted lenses is the impact on improved color contrast, which, for someone with vision loss from conditions such as Age Related Macular Degeneration, can make a major difference in visual function.
Tints can effectively filter out harmful high-energy visible (HEV) light or blue light, reducing strain and discomfort. They can also enhance specific colors in the visual field, improving contrast and making it easier to discern objects and details. By decreasing glare, tints can help low vision individuals function better in brightly lit environments.
In this article, the authors presented a thorough study on the impact of tinted lenses on a variety of neurological conditions including migraines, autism, photosensitivity epilepsy, cluster headaches, visual snow, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and head injury's. (https://touchneurology.com/headache-disorders/journal-articles/potential-uses-for-precision-tinted-lenses-in-a-neurology-clinic/)
There are numerous types of tints available for individuals with low vision. The choice of tint largely depends on the individual's specific visual needs and lifestyle, and should be chosen under the direction of a low vision optometrist or neuro optometrist.
Choosing the correct tint isn't a one-size-fits-all situation. The choice depends heavily on the specific needs and preferences of the individual. For example, someone with a high degree of light sensitivity might benefit most from a gray tint, while a person with macular degeneration might find a yellow or amber tint more beneficial.
In a low vision or neuro optometry practice, we recommend tints based on a comprehensive eye examination and detailed discussions about the patient's needs and lifestyle. Furthermore the patient will try on different filtered lenses to give a subjective evaluation of the impact of the tint.
During a low vision evaluation for filtered lenses the low vision therapist or doctor may ask some of the following question's:
Tints are a powerful tool in a low vision or neuro optometrist's arsenal for helping patients with low vision. The right tint can significantly enhance a patient's ability to navigate their world more comfortably and effectively. While they do not cure the underlying condition, they can in many situations improve the quality of life for individuals struggling with these impairments.