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LOW VISION REHABILITATION-A TEAM APPROACH

As the population continues to age, eye diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, among many others, are significantly increasing in prevalence.  Many people with these diseases reach a point when their eye care professionals tell them there is nothing else medically to be done for them.  Therefore, these patients are left with reduced vision, or Low Vision, which cannot be improved with regular eye glasses or contact lenses.  This is when it's time to see a Low Vision eye doctor.  Low Vision specialists do not perform surgery or prescribe medical treatments. Their expertise is prescribing specially designed lenses and vision devices while working in conjunction with the patient's current retina specialists, ophthalmologists, and optometrists.

The next step of Low Vision care involves a Low Vision occupational therapist and is equally as important.  After the eye doctor has measured a person's vision and evaluated the different categories of Low Vision aids that fits his or her needs, the patient then gets the chance to work with the devices for an extended period of time with the  Low Vision occupational therapist.  This allows the patient to evaluate all of the devices to make sure that they are finding the correct one that is going to give them the best help possible. 

The Low Vision team is trained to work with those individuals who, because of vision impairment, are struggling to perform their visual activities, their daily activities, or feel unsafe due to dim lighting or glare sensitivity.  These activities may include:

READING

* WRITING

* COMPUTER USE

* WATCHING TV

* SEEING FACES

* READING SIGNS

* COOKING

SEEING STOVE OR MICROWAVE DIALS

* SEEING FOOD ON THE PLATE

* POURING LIQUIDS

* GROOMING

* SEWING OR OTHER CRAFTS

* DIFFICULTY IN DIM LIGHTING

* GLARE SENSITIVITY

These are just a few examples!  A Low Vision doctor can evaluate and measure a patient's eyesight to determine the prescription strength as well as the type of low vision aids that would be appropriate. There are many devices that allow patients to use their poor vision effectively.  So many that we could not possibly list them all.  That makes the opportunity to work with a Low Vision occupational therapist crucial in assisting patients in determining which aids will be most useful in their every day lives.
 
Many people with Low Vision attempt to improve their situation by purchasing a traditional magnifier from stores, television infomercials, salespeople, or catalogs without the expertise of a Low Vision team.  Magnifiers sold in stores are not very strong at all.  If a person tries to use one of these and is unsuccessful, he or she may think nothing will help them see again.  This leads to frustration and, often times, depression.  Furthermore, without seeing a Low Vision eye doctor, the opportunity is lost to explore the many optical options that only a doctor trained in low vision knows how to prescribe.  Several of these devices are also much more convenient to use than the traditional magnifier sold at a drug store.

Astorino Vision Rehabilitation is one of the first facilities to utilize the combination of a Low Vision eye doctor and a Low Vision occupational therapist.  It continues to be one of very few facilities in the country doing so. 

The doctors and occupational therapists at Astorino Vision Rehabilitation are trained specialists who have dedicated their lives to properly helping people with Low Vision.

The Academies of Ophthalmology and Optometry agree that the preferred model of Low Vision rehabilitation is a team approach.  This constitutes a Low Vision examination from a Low Vision doctor, and therapy from a Low Vision occupational therapist -all while working in conjunction with each patient's retina specialists, ophthalmologists, and optometrists. 


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