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If you, a family member, or a friend has one or more eye disorders, such as glaucomacataractsmacular degenerationor diabetic retinopathyit's important to have a comprehensive low vision examination — performed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist who specializes in low vision — to determine whether special low vision optical devicesbetter lightinglarge print reading materials, or other types of training, such as vision rehabilitation servicescan help you, your family member, or your friend with low vision to use his or her functional vision more effectively.
An important part of the examination is for you, your doctor, and his or her social worker to discuss how you are adapting emotionally to your vision loss, whether you are motivated to learn a different way of doing things, and if you have family and friends to support you.
A comprehensive low vision examination is not rushed and is very thorough, taking times longer than a regular eye examination. A Functional Eye Exam The low vision eye care specialist is trained to conduct a functional eye examination that focuses directly on how a person's particular vision impairment affects his or her day-to-day living.
Some examples of functional vision problems can include: Difficulty seeing the height of the gas flame when cooking Problems crossing streets or seeing traffic Difficulty seeing information on a computer screen Problems threading a needle or making clothing repairs Difficulty readingsuch as using the telephone book or looking through magazines, even with regular eyeglasses.
Preparing for the Low Vision Examination Before arriving for the low vision examination, it's helpful to make a list of questions for your doctor. Here are some suggestions: What is the name of my eye disease or disorder? What is the cause of my vision loss? Is my condition stable, or can I lose more sight?
Is there any treatment for my eye condition? What is my visual acuity? Do I have a loss of side or peripheral vision? Will regular eyeglasses help me? How can I protect my remaining vision? Do I need any special medications? Do I qualify as legally blind? If so, what does legally blind actually mean?
Am I entitled to any special services or benefits? What resources and rehabilitation services are available to help me? Also, it is helpful to make a list of activities that you want and need to do, such as sewingplaying cardswatching ball games, or going to the theaterand to list the types of reading materials you want — and need — to access.
This information can help focus your discussions with your low vision doctor and his or her professional staff. A Helpful Checklist Here is a checklist to help you prepare for your low vision exam, brought to you by the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind: Bring any glasses, adaptive aids, and magnifiers that you are currently using to show the specialist.
What do you like or dislike about each item? Remember that this examination may take longer than one with your optometrist or ophthalmologist.
If you have diabetes, be sure to bring a snack with you. Bring all forms of insurance with you. Keep in mind that many devices or aids will not be covered by your insurance plan. If you have questions about whether the exam will be covered, ask the low vision clinic prior to your appointment.
Write a list of areas that you currently have trouble with in relation to your vision.
What are your goals and expectations in these areas? Does sunlight bother you? Can you read standard print? Can you travel independently?
Remember, the more information you can provide, the better the staff will be able to assist you. Components of the Low Vision Examination A comprehensive low vision examination always includes the following components: A Health and Medication History Your overall health and that of your immediate family The medications you are taking prescription and over-the-counter Questions about high blood pressure hypertensiondiabetessmoking, and sun exposure.
A Vision History How well you can see at present, including any recent changes in your vision Eye diseases that you or your family members have had Previous eye treatments, surgeries, or injuries The date of your last eye examination. A Low Vision History Any prior vision rehabilitation services you've had Questions about activities that are becoming difficult for you, such as reading, meal preparationor walking indoors and outdoors.
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