A low vision evaluation is in some ways similar to a regular eye exam, and in other ways entirely different. During a low vision evaluation our residency trained low vision optometrist will assess the complete functioning of the visual system while also helping the patient understand more about their condition and the variety of tools to improve their remaining vision and improve their quality of life. For example lighting plays an important role in the lives of people who suffer from low vision. Proper lighting allows them to do their everyday activities without any problems. Therefore, helping the patient understand the importance and tools to improve lighting is a part of a low vision evaluation. This is one example that illustrates how different a low vision evaluation is from a typical eye exam.

What is low vision?

Low vision is exactly what it sounds like. The condition makes it difficult to do everyday tasks, including deciphering colors, reading, driving, and recognizing people. Glasses, surgery, or medication cannot correct or reverse low vision. However, you can overcome it with the help of assistive devices, enhanced lighting, and therapy that enables you to continue to enjoy activities you once thought were impossible.

Are you experiencing low vision?

You may need to see a low vision optometrist such as Dr. Sarah Wolff if you experience any of these symptoms and are not able to improve them through standard solutions such as glasses or contact lenses.

  • Having trouble seeing things directly through your center of vision
  • Difficulty adjusting to contrasting colors
  • Decreased peripheral vision
  • Night vision problems
  • Blurry or fuzzy vision
  • Sensitivity to glare
  • Difficulty adjusting your vision when you move from indoors to outdoors and vice versa

How is lighting discussed in a low vision evaluation?

Dr. Wolff's low vision evaluations cater to each individual's needs. She explains what type of lighting is required for the tasks they're doing. If you have one eye that sees slightly better than the other, ideally, you want the light to come from that side, since that is where your best vision is. You also don't want the lighting to come from above and cast shadows or glare. That light should be focused on the tasks you're looking at so it enhances without actually causing glare.

Even just the lighting around your home can make a big difference. In order to avoid constantly bringing in additional lighting, you should improve lighting around your house.

What role does a low vision doctor play in modifying lighting?

Low vision optometrist Dr. Wolff demonstrates different lighting conditions in the office to her patients. The goal is to educate people to show how much difference lighting can make. As a result, patients can better understand and assess the lighting conditions in different rooms at home once they return home. Her job also includes connecting people to other resources, whether it's someone coming to their home or even setting up a Zoom call to talk about their home's lighting.

She focuses on task lamps and floor lamps in the office since they are easier to transfer to the home. She also shows the patients magnification options that include lighting in them and demonstrates to the patient how lighting improves the ability to use magnification.

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