There are 4 levels of visual function, according to the International Classification of Diseases -10 (Update and Revision 2006): normal vision; moderate visual impairment; severe visual impairment; blindness. Moderate visual impairment combined with severe visual impairment are grouped under the term “low vision”: low vision taken together with blindness represents all visual impairment.

-World Health Organization

 

LOW VISION 


What is Low Vision?

Low vision is the term used to refer to a visual impairment that is not correctable through surgery, pharmaceuticals, glasses or contact lenses. It is often characterized by partial sight, such as blurred vision, blind spots or tunnel vision, but also includes legal blindness.

There are 4 levels of visual function, according to the International Classification of Diseases -10 (Update and Revision 2006): normal vision; moderate visual impairment; severe visual impairment; blindness. Moderate visual impairment combined with severe visual impairment are grouped under the term “low vision”: low vision taken together with blindness represents all visual impairment. -World Health Organization

There are 4 levels of visual function, according to the International Classification of Diseases -10 (Update and Revision 2006): normal vision; moderate visual impairment; severe visual impairment; blindness. Moderate visual impairment combined with severe visual impairment are grouped under the term “low vision”: low vision taken together with blindness represents all visual impairment. -World Health Organization


Many newly diagnosed people are referred to us for a low vision evaluation by a low vision specialist.

 

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 The Low Vision Specialist uses functional vision evaluation instruments to assess visual acuity, visual fields, contrast sensitivity function, color vision, stereopsis, visual perceptual and visual motor functioning, literacy skills in reading and writing, etc. as they relate to vision impairment and disability. They also evaluate work history, educational performance, use of technology, quality of life and aspects of psychosocial and cognitive function to determine which adaptive aids and improve the quality of life for the visually impaired.

Low Vision Evaluation

 

What is a Low Vision Evaluation?

A clinical low vision evaluation assesses whether or not a child will benefit from optical devices such as monocular telescopes and/or magnifiers. An optometrist or ophthalmologist who specializes in low vision and the prescription of optical devices performs the clinical low vision evaluation.

 

assistive technology to help low vision

 

Advance Spectacle or Head-mounted Magnifiers

This type of low vision assistive device combines the increased magnification of microscopic view lenses, and a specialized head apparatus for securing the lenses before your eyes. This may be a useful low vision aid for hobbies, reading, and other close-up visual tasks.

Handheld Magnifiers

Smaller in size, designed to fit comfortably in your hand, the handheld magnifier can be as simple as the traditional magnifying glass and as advance as an electronic low vision magnifier. Models and manufacturers differ on the size, weight, function, and features available, however the electric handheld magnifier is generally designed to be used with ease and provide multiple magnification strengths. This category of low vision assistive devices offers great visual support for individuals with an on-the-go lifestyle.

Portable Electronic Magnifiers

Perhaps among the most versatile (personal to professional life) low vision assistive devices, the portable electronic magnifiers are able to cover a wide variety of tasks. Some portable electronic magnifiers are extremely lightweight and can be used in the home or in the office. These devices are often capable of being positioned in various directions allowing for information across the room to be gathered clearly and displayed on the personal monitor for enhanced viewing. The ability to adjust the camera (responsible for gathering the images or text) may also be self-directed to provide mirror image viewing, helpful when applying make-up or shaving. Beyond the ease of portability and flexibility, some portable electronic magnifiers offer increased option through viewing modes, adding features like contrast, magnification, computer connectivity and more.

Desktop Magnifiers

Desktop magnifiers, also called CCTV (closed circuit television) magnifiers are more stationary magnifiers. Providing some of the highest levels of magnification power (depending on model and manufacturer), viewing mode options, along with other features, makes these desktop low vision assistive devices more than just an aid for reading.

 

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Hand-held lighted magnifiers can be very helpful. 

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Fayette County Association for the Blind is Awarded AER Accreditation

Fayette County Association for the Blind has earned the diFayette County Association for the Blind has earned the distinction “AER Accredited” by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER).

This accreditation distinction is awarded to organizations that provide high quality services and support to individuals who are blind or have low vision. In addition, the services must be provided under the most effective administrative and management standards. It signals accountability, results and high merit. The AER Accreditation Program has two fundamental purposes: to validate the quality of an organization and its programs and to assist in the improvement of the organization and its programs. It is a rigorous process aimed at ensuring that optimal gains are achieved for individuals with vision loss. AER’s evaluation of Fayette County Association for the Blind includes a thorough review of the physical facility and quality of client services and programs. AER interviews both staff and clients and conducts a review of organizational documents.

Fayette County Association for the Blind constantly seeks to provide a variety of comprehensive services intended to help people of all ages strive to learn skills and participate in programs that foster ever increasing independence, enabling those with vision loss to continue to be active and contributing in family and community life. Our goal is to be recognized as the county’s key resource and major provider of service to people with vision loss. Founded in 1946, Fayette County Association for the Blind is dedicated to improving the quality of the life for the county’s vision impaired population. AER encourages facilities to meet or exceed quality standards through accreditation and the teaching of quality improvement concepts.

"We are extremely pleased to have achieved this designation," states Executive Director, Sandra Morris, "Accreditation is a rigorous process, but one that we welcome as a continual quality improvement mechanism. Earning AER accreditation is another measure of our excellence as a premier provider of care and programs for the visually impaired, and it reflects our commitment to our clients."

AER is a not-for-profit organization dedicated exclusively to professionals who provide services to individuals with vision loss. Grounded in the belief that persons with vision loss should have optimal chances to live independently, AER promotes and supports the field by advocating for evidence-based practices, high quality standards, value added resources and giving voice to issues of critical importance. Since its inception, AER has had one primary purpose and that is to elevate the conditions that drive to excellence. Supporting professionals who deliver services, AER recognizes the role standards play in achieving short and long term goals. To learn more about AER and the accreditation program, send an email to accreditation@aerbvi.org.

For information about the Fayette County Association for the Blind, or if you need services—or  if you know someone who needs services—please visit http://fayetteblindassociation.org, email ksims@fayetteblindassociation.org or call 724-437-2791. stinction “AER Accredited” by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER).

This accreditation distinction is awarded to organizations that provide high quality services and support to individuals who are blind or have low vision. In addition, the services must be provided under the most effective administrative and management standards. It signals accountability, results and high merit. The AER Accreditation Program has two fundamental purposes: to validate the quality of an organization and its programs and to assist in the improvement of the organization and its programs. It is a rigorous process aimed at ensuring that optimal gains are achieved for individuals with vision loss. AER’s evaluation of Fayette County Association for the Blind includes a thorough review of the physical facility and quality of client services and programs. AER interviews both staff and clients and conducts a review of organizational documents.

Fayette County Association for the Blind constantly seeks to provide a variety of comprehensive services intended to help people of all ages strive to learn skills and participate in programs that foster ever increasing independence, enabling those with vision loss to continue to be active and contributing in family and community life. Our goal is to be recognized as the county’s key resource and major provider of service to people with vision loss. Founded in 1946, Fayette County Association for the Blind is dedicated to improving the quality of the life for the county’s vision impaired population. AER encourages facilities to meet or exceed quality standards through accreditation and the teaching of quality improvement concepts.

"We are extremely pleased to have achieved this designation," states Executive Director, Sandra Morris, "Accreditation is a rigorous process, but one that we welcome as a continual quality improvement mechanism. Earning AER accreditation is another measure of our excellence as a premier provider of care and programs for the visually impaired, and it reflects our commitment to our clients."

AER is a not-for-profit organization dedicated exclusively to professionals who provide services to individuals with vision loss. Grounded in the belief that persons with vision loss should have optimal chances to live independently, AER promotes and supports the field by advocating for evidence-based practices, high quality standards, value added resources and giving voice to issues of critical importance. Since its inception, AER has had one primary purpose and that is to elevate the conditions that drive to excellence. Supporting professionals who deliver services, AER recognizes the role standards play in achieving short and long term goals. To learn more about AER and the accreditation program, send an email to accreditation@aerbvi.org.

For information about the Fayette County Association for the Blind, or if you need services—or  if you know someone who needs services—please visit http://fayetteblindassociation.org, email ksims@fayetteblindassociation.org or call 724-437-2791.


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Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see. -Mark Twain


The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. -Mother Terese


Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. Strength comes from overcoming things you thought you couldn’t.


eye exams are important

An annual eye examination by a licensed ophthalmologist is a great way to detect vision problems early.



What is Low Vision?  The definition of low vision varies. One definition is visual acuity of 20/70 or worse in the better-seeing eye that is not correctable with eyeglasses. Measurement of 20/70 vision means that a person with unimpaired vision can see the chart from 70 feet away, whereas a person with low vision would have to stand closer at 20 feet. Another definition of low vision is uncorrectable vision loss that interferes with one’s daily activities. This definition is useful because often a visit to the low-vision specialist will focus on ways to improve the patient’s independence and quality of life.    The Low-Vision Evaluation  A low-vision evaluation focuses less on the specific disease, and more on the impact that the disease and resultant low vision have on the patient. Therefore, the low-vision specialist will ask about your daily activities, overall health and cognition level, as well as aspects of your social history, including whether you live alone or have support from family and friends. The low-vision specialist will also ask whether you are still driving.  During the examination, the low-vision specialist will evaluate your distance and reading vision, contrast sensitivity, field of vision, and additional tests. The specialist will also determine how you use your vision. Some patients will need to use other parts of their visual field, not just the central part. This is called “eccentric viewing.” Sometimes training with eccentric viewing can help patients use low-vision devices more effectively.    Helpful Devices  Next, the low-vision specialist will work with you to determine whether there are specific devices that can help you accomplish your goals. One important point is that there will not be one device that can help you with all of your tasks, but rather different devices for different activities. Also, magnification devices may not help glaucoma patients who do not yet have central vision loss, which only occurs in very advanced glaucoma.  Magnification  Full-Field Microscope Glasses  For reading, full-field microscope glasses (very strong reading glasses), are useful because they free up hands to hold the reading material and are portable. However, there are some disadvantages, including the need for very good lighting and a limited field of view, such that the reading material may need to be moved in front of the eyes rather than the usual mode of using our eyes to scan the text. This brings up an important point about magnifiers. As the power of the magnification increases, it results in other challenges such as decreased field of view and image movement, which makes it more difficult to learn how to use the device effectively. However, with practice, patients can adapt and benefit from these devices.  Stand Magnifiers  A stand magnifier is another option for reading. The device sits on the page and the consistency between the lens and the text results in a more stable image than that of a handheld magnifier. The stand magnifier may also have its own lighting, which is beneficial for reading. The disadvantage is that these magnifiers tend to be less portable and require the user to move the magnifier across the text.  Handheld Magnifiers  Handheld magnifiers are ideal for people without any tremors or weakness, and they are portable and more useful in situations that only require short-term reading, such as reading price tags and menus.  Electronic Magnifiers  Electronic magnification (closed circuit television, i.e. CCTV, or a video magnifier) has some advantages because it projects a larger field of view on a screen, provides adjustable magnification and contrast modes, and produces no peripheral distortion. However, a major disadvantage is its cost. An alternative to CCTV is electronic readers (e-readers) such as the Kindle or iPad. These devices allow you to adjust the font size and contrast, and have text-to-speech functionality. However, the magnification is not as great as with CCTVs and glare may still be a problem depending on the device.  Low- and High-Tech Tips  Low Tech  Improve lighting with a gooseneck lamp directed at the reading material.  Carry a penlight with you at all times.  Wear visors when outdoors to help reduce glare, or try yellow clip-on or wraparound yellow or amber sunglasses. Your low-vision specialist can perform a glare evaluation, and before purchasing any sunglasses try them out on a bright sunny day.  Move closer to the TV or to the stage during performances.  Borrow large-print books from the library.  Purchase large-print remote controls, calendars, games, and books.  Use rubber bands on certain medications.  Put safety pins on blue clothing to separate them from black items.  Switch from ball point pens to felt-tipped pens, which are bolder and easier to see.  Borrow audio books from the library.  Explore talking watches, calculators, and computers.  High Tech  Download apps that magnify (iRead, iLoupe, Magnify), or help identify the denomination of money (EyeNote).  Use voice interfaces such as Siri.  Experiment with mapping programs that provide voice-guided directions.  Improving Mobility  The difficulties with visual acuity, contrast, and field of vision can be very challenging. Some devices that can help with a constricted field of vision include sectoral prisms, which can increase awareness of side vision, very strong lenses, and reverse telescopes. Some of these devices make objects smaller so that more information fits into a small field of vision, but they are limited by the patient’s visual acuity.  Your low-vision specialist may also work with certified orientation and mobility specialists who can help with performing a mobility evaluation, or even a home visit to help identify aids for use in the home. Even small changes at home, such as removing cords that are easy to trip on or marking appliance buttons with raised paint, can make a big difference.  Psychological Support  Vision loss can certainly be frightening but learning how to adapt, with the aid of low-vision specialists, can result in continued independence and a fulfilling life. Here we have focused on tools to help with the physical adaptations, but it is also important to seek the help of a counselor for psychological counseling if needed. There are also patient groups to help those who are coping with low vision that may provide the group support you need. Finally, maintaining a social network and asking for help will enrich your life far more than staying at home, and indeed help maintain your independence and quality of life.

What is Low Vision?

The definition of low vision varies. One definition is visual acuity of 20/70 or worse in the better-seeing eye that is not correctable with eyeglasses. Measurement of 20/70 vision means that a person with unimpaired vision can see the chart from 70 feet away, whereas a person with low vision would have to stand closer at 20 feet. Another definition of low vision is uncorrectable vision loss that interferes with one’s daily activities. This definition is useful because often a visit to the low-vision specialist will focus on ways to improve the patient’s independence and quality of life.

The Low-Vision Evaluation

A low-vision evaluation focuses less on the specific disease, and more on the impact that the disease and resultant low vision have on the patient. Therefore, the low-vision specialist will ask about your daily activities, overall health and cognition level, as well as aspects of your social history, including whether you live alone or have support from family and friends. The low-vision specialist will also ask whether you are still driving.

During the examination, the low-vision specialist will evaluate your distance and reading vision, contrast sensitivity, field of vision, and additional tests. The specialist will also determine how you use your vision. Some patients will need to use other parts of their visual field, not just the central part. This is called “eccentric viewing.” Sometimes training with eccentric viewing can help patients use low-vision devices more effectively.

Helpful Devices

Next, the low-vision specialist will work with you to determine whether there are specific devices that can help you accomplish your goals. One important point is that there will not be one device that can help you with all of your tasks, but rather different devices for different activities. Also, magnification devices may not help glaucoma patients who do not yet have central vision loss, which only occurs in very advanced glaucoma.

Magnification

Full-Field Microscope Glasses

For reading, full-field microscope glasses (very strong reading glasses), are useful because they free up hands to hold the reading material and are portable. However, there are some disadvantages, including the need for very good lighting and a limited field of view, such that the reading material may need to be moved in front of the eyes rather than the usual mode of using our eyes to scan the text. This brings up an important point about magnifiers. As the power of the magnification increases, it results in other challenges such as decreased field of view and image movement, which makes it more difficult to learn how to use the device effectively. However, with practice, patients can adapt and benefit from these devices.

Stand Magnifiers

A stand magnifier is another option for reading. The device sits on the page and the consistency between the lens and the text results in a more stable image than that of a handheld magnifier. The stand magnifier may also have its own lighting, which is beneficial for reading. The disadvantage is that these magnifiers tend to be less portable and require the user to move the magnifier across the text.

Handheld Magnifiers

Handheld magnifiers are ideal for people without any tremors or weakness, and they are portable and more useful in situations that only require short-term reading, such as reading price tags and menus.

Electronic Magnifiers

Electronic magnification (closed circuit television, i.e. CCTV, or a video magnifier) has some advantages because it projects a larger field of view on a screen, provides adjustable magnification and contrast modes, and produces no peripheral distortion. However, a major disadvantage is its cost. An alternative to CCTV is electronic readers (e-readers) such as the Kindle or iPad. These devices allow you to adjust the font size and contrast, and have text-to-speech functionality. However, the magnification is not as great as with CCTVs and glare may still be a problem depending on the device.

Low- and High-Tech Tips

Low Tech

Improve lighting with a gooseneck lamp directed at the reading material.

Carry a penlight with you at all times.

Wear visors when outdoors to help reduce glare, or try yellow clip-on or wraparound yellow or amber sunglasses. Your low-vision specialist can perform a glare evaluation, and before purchasing any sunglasses try them out on a bright sunny day.

Move closer to the TV or to the stage during performances.

Borrow large-print books from the library.

Purchase large-print remote controls, calendars, games, and books.

Use rubber bands on certain medications.

Put safety pins on blue clothing to separate them from black items.

Switch from ball point pens to felt-tipped pens, which are bolder and easier to see.

Borrow audio books from the library.

Explore talking watches, calculators, and computers.

High Tech

Download apps that magnify (iRead, iLoupe, Magnify), or help identify the denomination of money (EyeNote).

Use voice interfaces such as Siri.

Experiment with mapping programs that provide voice-guided directions.

Improving Mobility

The difficulties with visual acuity, contrast, and field of vision can be very challenging. Some devices that can help with a constricted field of vision include sectoral prisms, which can increase awareness of side vision, very strong lenses, and reverse telescopes. Some of these devices make objects smaller so that more information fits into a small field of vision, but they are limited by the patient’s visual acuity.

Your low-vision specialist may also work with certified orientation and mobility specialists who can help with performing a mobility evaluation, or even a home visit to help identify aids for use in the home. Even small changes at home, such as removing cords that are easy to trip on or marking appliance buttons with raised paint, can make a big difference.

Psychological Support

Vision loss can certainly be frightening but learning how to adapt, with the aid of low-vision specialists, can result in continued independence and a fulfilling life. Here we have focused on tools to help with the physical adaptations, but it is also important to seek the help of a counselor for psychological counseling if needed. There are also patient groups to help those who are coping with low vision that may provide the group support you need. Finally, maintaining a social network and asking for help will enrich your life far more than staying at home, and indeed help maintain your independence and quality of life.

There are 4 levels of visual function, according to the International Classification of Diseases -10 (Update and Revision 2006): normal vision; moderate visual impairment; severe visual impairment; blindness. Moderate visual impairment combined with severe visual impairment are grouped under the term “low vision”: low vision taken together with blindness represents all visual impairment.  -World Health Organization

There are 4 levels of visual function, according to the International Classification of Diseases -10 (Update and Revision 2006): normal vision; moderate visual impairment; severe visual impairment; blindness. Moderate visual impairment combined with severe visual impairment are grouped under the term “low vision”: low vision taken together with blindness represents all visual impairment.

-World Health Organization

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