Low vision optometrists are different from general optometrists. In both a comprehensive eye exam and a low vision evaluation, the focus of the eye exam is to figure out the patient's vision and how to help them see better. In addition both a low vision optometrist and a general care optometrist monitor the ocular health and provide relief from any visual discomfort.

The difference of a low vision optometrist is the solution

For a routine care optometrist the solutions to help patients see better are pretty straight forward. Eyeglasses, contact lenses, and laser eye surgery are the standard correction methods used. However someone with low vision is not able to be helped with standard vision correction methods, and this is where the specialty of a low vision optometrist comes into play. In the case of someone who cannot see 100% with normal vision correction methods, it may be necessary to think outside of the box to think of ways to help them see better. Low vision optometrists do more than prescribe standard glasses; they perform tests beyond whether a patient can read a letter, or if they can discern certain contrasts. A low vision optometrist has undergone special training to understand the unique vision constraints of a low vision patient as well as the myriad of ever changing solutions that are available. Their primary job is to help guide the low vision patient on the best devices, optics, and tools that will allow the patient to achieve the most of their remaining vision.

When someone is low vision, there is no one pair of glasses that gives them perfect vision

Many times patients with low vision, or a family member will call or visit our office in Bellflower and think that there is a simple solution to regain perfect vision. Unfortunately that is not the case. Each low vision device or optics will provide a solution for a specific focal distance and use case. For example for someone with macular degeneration who has lost some of their central vision the solution for reading (near distance) is not going to provide a good solution for driving (far distance).  Low vision optometrists are very interested in their patients' goals. There is no doubt that everyone wishes to see 20/20, but low vision optometrists are interested in what the patient struggles with the most and how to solve the most important things for each patient. Whether they want to read scores on TV more clearly or read the newspaper without difficulty, use the computer or drive, there are usually solutions for specific focal distances and situations. There is a lot more focus on the task at hand that patients find difficult to do because their vision isn’t perfect 20/20. In comparison to a regular eye exam, a comprehensive low vision exam is much more thorough and takes 2-3 times longer. In many cases a person with low vision will come in for more than one visit.

Why is it important to spend more time with a low vision exam?

During a low vision exam one of the goals is to educate the patient and their family members who accompany them about the specifics of their vision loss, the ways it may impact their life, and the many different resources, tools, devices, and optics that are available. Having guidance when you lose some of your vision is crucial to better coping with the changes

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