My Visit to a Low Vision Clinic

Visiting a low vision specialist has been on my to-do list for the past 2 years. Diagnosed with early dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) almost 10 years ago, I progressed slowly for several years. Once it progressed to the intermediate stage, it started impacting my daily life.

It was time to see a low vision specialist

I didn’t give geographic atrophy (GA) even a passing thought. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with GA last year. I began treatment with Izervay in December.

As my eyes have deteriorated, I felt it was finally time to consult a low vision specialist. I broached the subject at my checkup this month. I was surprised to learn there was a low vision clinic in the same city as my retina specialist. My retina specialist made the referral and sent over my records. I received a detailed questionnaire to fill out.

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Appointment day at the low vision clinic

I was both excited and anxious on the day of my appointment. I worried the results of the eye exam might result in the loss of my driver's license. Oklahoma allows a person to drive with 20/70 vision in 1 eye. They also do not require an eye test after the initial test is done when you take the driving test.

At my appointment, a tech did some initial testing, taking pictures of my eyes. The optometrist came in and performed a thorough eye exam. I was so relieved to learn I was still legal to drive.

Sharing daily challenges

Next up was a discussion of my daily challenges. She asked about hobbies and activities in the home.

Reading is my favorite hobby. I told her I use an iPad so I can enlarge the text and change the background colors. Reading written correspondence or paying bills requires the use of a magnifier; I have been using my iPhone magnifier or an inexpensive handheld magnifier for activities I can’t do on the iPad.

Browsing the helpful tools available

Next the optometrist showed me a variety of magnifying devices. They ranged in size from one small enough to fit in my purse to full-page magnifiers. She explained that German-made magnifiers are the best.

After trying several magnifiers, I settled on one I really liked. It is lighted and has settings to change the background color. The price was almost $900.

Exploring options for bioptic glasses

My biggest concern is continuing to drive. I live 14 miles from the nearest store. If I can’t drive, I may be forced to move, something my husband and I would rather not do. 

I asked about bioptic glasses. They allow visually impaired people to get a restricted license after training. The telescopic device fits on special frames. Most of the time, you use the regular lens to drive. Use of the telescopic device is used when you need to see signs or traffic signals. I struggle in construction zones, and bioptic glasses would help me see details at a distance.

I tried on a basic pair and was surprised when I had 20/30 vision using the device. They are expensive, starting at $1300. Some have a fixed amount of magnification, while others adapt to the distance.

I left encouraged

I was not pressed to make any purchases that day. I plan to search for the best prices on German-made magnifying devices. I know I will want bioptic glasses in the future. Still legal to drive now, I can take my time finding the best ones I can afford.

I left the low vision clinic encouraged that there were devices to help me as I need them.

Have you visited a low vision clinic? What was your experience like? Share in the comments below.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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