Doctors may not yet be able to cure age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or reverse its effects, but recent innovations and improved understanding of best practices are greatly lessening its impact. Until a breakthrough to eliminate this degenerative disease that robs its victims of their sharp, central vision appears, it's a relief to see steady progress being made to keep patients functional, safe and independent. With February being Age-Related Macular Degeneration Month, The International Academy of Low Vision Specialists (IALVS) is urging patients to focus on recent advancements in the field.
Being diagnosed with AMD, as an estimated 3 million Americans will be by 2020, is no longer as life-altering as it once was. Even when AMD patients have been repeatedly told by eye doctors that a change in eyeglass prescription will not help, and that "nothing more can be done" low vision optometrists can and do help. "We can do more now than ever before," Richard Shuldiner, OD, IALVS founder, said in a news release. "Whether a person wishes to drive, read, play cards or just see faces, we design special "low vision" glasses to help people do what they want to do."
In addition, the low vision optometrists of IALVS further help patients make the most of their remaining vision by providing nutritional guidance, and recommendations for improved lighting. They also continue to pioneer the field by conducting trials of new devices and glasses. This includes Low Powered Telescopic Spectacles, developed and currently being tested, which shows great promise. After being fitted with the device, one participant in this particular trial, a former marine, was so pleased by the results that he was able to resume bowling, among many other activities. According to Dr. Shuldiner, within the next year, several other innovations are expected to become available.
Two specialists are better than one.
Because AMD will never completely rob a person of his or her vision, low vision optometrists can almost always provide something to make the most of whatever vision remains. For optimum care, however, most patients need to know to seek out their help. In addition to a retinologist, (an ophthalmologist with advanced training in retinal diseases) to provide expert medical treatment and monitoring of AMD, patients should see a low vision optometrist, a licensed doctor of optometry who has received advanced training in the visual issues surrounding macular degeneration.
Fortunately, a growing number of AMD patients and their families now recognize that the same doctor who treats their disease is not the best professional to manage their visual loss, a condition called low vision. Low vision is a term used when vision cannot be corrected or improved adequately by medicine, surgery or conventional eyeglasses or contact lenses. More qualified than any other medical specialist to determine which of the latest low vision optical devices are best for a patient, low vision optometrists are invaluable to helping patients make the most of their remaining vision.
A diagnosis of permanent vision loss can often affect far more than just the ability to see; it alters how a person views the world by impacting virtually every aspect of a person's life, from how to dress, eat and work to how to maintain independence. By properly addressing these issues, low vision optometrists help patients lead the fullest possible lives, while avoiding needless concern, fear, despair and depression.
To reach a low vision optometrist with extensive training and experience in dealing with the visual issues of macular degeneration, Contact The International Academy of Low Vision Specialists: www.LowVisionDoctors.com or 1-888-778-2030.