Independence means a lot of things. For those with low vision or vision loss, the lack of independence can mean isolation. Taking care of your eyes, proper diet and regular eye exams can help detect signs of illness and diseases associated with vision loss.
An estimated 2.9 million Americans have low vision, which makes it difficult or impossible for them to accomplish everyday activities such as reading, writing, shopping, watching television, driving a car or recognizing faces. Low vision can be caused by eye diseases that are more common in older people, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
The quality of life for individuals may be improved with low vision rehabilitation. A trained vision therapist can teach individuals how to adapt to accomplish tasks of daily living. Things such as shaving, applying make-up, using the telephone, safe cooking, pouring a hot cup of coffee, using a washer and dryer and hundreds of other everyday tasks are challenging to accomplish with low vision.
Additional steps can be taken to assist those with low vision to remain independent. Organize and label food and kitchen items. Designate spots for your keys, wallet and frequently used items in your refrigerator. Mark thermostats and dials with high-contrast markers from a fabric store; label medications with markers or rubber bands; and safety-pin labels onto similarly colored clothing to tell them apart.
Dr. Bissell has undergone extensive training through the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists to treat patients with low vision and is committed to working with low vision patients to help them remain independent. In his evaluations, he may recommend training by a vision therapist to provide those with vision loss the tools to remain safe in their homes.
There is no cure for macular degeneration. Regular eye exams can provide early detection of disease. By working with a credentialed low vision optometrist, patients receive information on the most up-to-date treatment options and low vision supports in the market.
About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Tri-State Low Vision Services – a division of Bissell Eye Care, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.