By-Traci Wyatt, Licensed Dispensing Optician

Low Vision is defined as vision loss that cannot be corrected by glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of low vision in adults over 50 in developed nations. While AMD does not cause blindness, it does cause a loss of central vision. When the cells in the Macula, which is a very small place on the retina, begin to degenerate, this is known as Macular Degeneration. The reason this happens in some people is still unknown. We believe that people who have family members affected are at a slightly higher risk than people who do not have any family history. Other thoughts are over exposure to UV and High Energy Blue Light over time as well as not eating your vegetables.

Central vision is required for reading, and color perception. One who has AMD will not be able to see facial features of someone standing in front of him or her or be able to continue driving. Reading is impaired. Straight
lines are wavy or distorted. Damage from AMD is permanent, not reversible or cured. In some cases, damage is limited, while in others AMD advances to severe central vision loss.

Although AMD cannot be cured, it is important than you continue to see your Ophthalmologist or Optometrist for changes that can be treated to slow down further vision loss and to watch for signs of overall eye health such as glaucoma which affects peripheral vision. If one is diagnosed with both diseases, it is important to control the Glaucoma to prevent blindness.

Magnifiers can be a useful tool to help aid in reading and near work. If the ones you find at your local drugstore or pharmacy don’t work well, contact our eye care provider. He or she may know someone who specializes in higher powered magnifiers.

Magnifiers come in many powers, and styles. It has been my experience that the newer styles with LED lighting work the best. You will want to try them out before buying to make sure which power will work best for your needs. Newer technology electronic portable magnifiers are also a good tool to have. The electronic devices not only magnify, but will sharpen the contrast for better viewing. Desktop magnifiers known as CCTV’s have been around for a long time. They have advanced in technology so they are not so bulky, and provide sharper contrast for reading the newspaper or books.