About Low Vision

Reduced or impaired vision (that is, vision which is not improved by a change of glasses or contact lenses) is an increasingly common problem optometrists find themselves dealing with as our population ages and the incidence of eye disease increases. Unfortunately, despite the sophisticated technology at our disposal for examining every structure and function of the eye in minute detail, aids to assist when vision is permanently reduced are still a cause of frustration to practitioner and sufferer alike!

  • why won’t stronger glasses help?
  • low vision eye examination
  • magnifiers and aids

Why won’t stronger glasses help?

One of the most common requests of practitioners is for us to “just make the glasses a bit stronger”; in many instances this does not provide the improved vision hoped for. Stronger glasses result in a very close working distance, (often only a few centimetres), which is not practical or comfortable for prolonged reading. The other limitation with very strong reading glasses and high magnifiers alike is the small field of view through the lens. Reading text with this type of aid is a source of enormous frustration as it is often not possible to fit a whole word within the view of the magnifier or glasses. Many people buy magnifiers with a large lens for the good viewing area; unfortunately these devices have a very low degree of magnification and don’t provide the assistance needed. It is therefore not uncommon for the visually impaired to give up many of their previous interests out of frustration.

Low Vision Eye Examination

Dealing with low vision is a specialised area of practice which requires patience and persistence from both the practitioner and patient, but a positive outcome can be achieved! We would therefore encourage anyone who is experiencing even a small degree of frustration with their vision, or caring for someone with a vision disability, to make an appointment for a comprehensive assessment. The level of magnification needed to improve vision can be quantified and appropriate appliances sourced to achieve this. This consultation is of course covered by Medicare. If the level of help needed is beyond our scope of practice a referral to Vision Australia can be organised.

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Magnifiers and Aids

There is a very large range of highly specialised magnifiers available on the market, often using sophisticated German technologies, which give superb optics and much better working distances than their simple relatives. These range from internally illuminated magnifiers in various configurations to very specialised aids (like binoculars for viewing TV) in glasses form and magnifying rulers, or stand magnifiers for aiding crossword and Sudoku fans. There are pocket magnifiers which can be useful when out and about or in situations where lighting might be less than ideal. We keep a small range of these aids in the practice and our suppliers are always willing and keen to send appliances “on approval” according to the individual patient’s needs.