Before my freshmen year of high school, I had never even heard the term “low vision” before. That all changed when I started an advanced math class and needed accommodations in order to see the instruction. I had mostly gone through life going to a regular eye doctor once a year and wearing glasses. Things were always a little fuzzy and there were moments when I felt like I was missing details but that was just the way life was.
After finishing the math class things mostly went back to normal and I forgot about the words “low vision” for several years. As an adult some tasks that seemed normal to others were increasingly frustrating and difficult for me but after leaving school it seemed like there was nothing more to be done. After all there aren’t many ways to request “accommodations” in everyday life and I didn’t even have the words to describe my problems in the first place. Having ocular albinism meant that most things were blurry to me and sunlight or bright fluorescent lighting bothered my eyes and made my vision even worse. Then one day I heard those words “low vision” again when I arrived at the Low Vision Specialists of Maryland. When I described my vision problems my vocabulary wasn’t limited to “near sightedness” and “far sightedness” and the welcoming staff was familiar with all the struggles I mentioned. I found out that there really are accommodations in the real world. At Low Vision Specialists the low vision optometrists specialize in creating custom optical systems using telescopic and microscopic lenses. I had never heard of anything like these glasses and tools before and what they were able to do amazed me.
While my previous eye doctor visits always went the same way with the results being my vision was what it was. This time, the results were very different. In my past experiences I would usually walk away feeling like my glasses were doing me very little good despite prescription changes. And one time I even received a pair of glasses with the completely wrong prescription in them by accident—and it took me almost a month to notice! But at the Low Vision specialists I had a completely different experience, and I am excited to share this with people who can hopefully discover it earlier in life than I did. Low Vision Specialists of Maryland & Virginia uses the remaining vision you already have and maximize it with the specialized lens systems to improve your vision. It’s that simple. The appointment lasted close to two hours and the doctor really took the time to listen to my personal challenges and how my vision got in the way of most. We also tested my vision in real life conditions, with the lights on and even went outside the office to test out the new prototype glasses. That way I could really tell what type of difference it made and what I could use the glasses for. Having such a personalized experience vastly improved my overall care.
As for the glasses, after finding the right combination, the doctor was able to achieve 20/20 vision for me and I saw more clearly than I ever had in my life. I had never imagined seeing so much detail and clarity before since I had always been told that my vision would be blurry and unfocused. After testing out the glasses I could tell that they were helping me complete the tasks I wanted to do. It was like instead of straining my eyes to see something I knew I would never be able to see; I was effortlessly using the glasses to help me.
The glasses are also task specific and depending on whether you need to look at something far away, intermediary, or close, you can switch from a pair of telescopic lenses to microscopic lenses. This makes so much sense because depending on what your vision needs are, you might need one or all of them.
This experience can be potentially life changing for people with low vison. I would highly recommend anyone checking out what options you might have with the experts at Low Vision Specialists.
The Sight-Loss Support Group of Baltimore and Beyond can help you feel less isolated and more empowered in your sight-loss journey. Please join us virtually on the third Tuesday of every month. Registration required.
Do you have a blog suggestion? We’d love to hear and share your tips and experiences in a future 20/20 blog posts! Blog@LowVisionMD.org