What can a vision rehabilitation exam do for me?

By the time most patients come to the vision rehabilitation department they have exhausted all of the surgical and medical managements that would have cured their eye condition. What the Vision Rehabilitation Department strives to do is to work with what vision the patient has left. We teach patients to use remaining areas of vision by increasing their ability to see in those areas. Common techniques include the use of magnification shifting of the field into an area that the retina can see or the use of the eccentric fixation techniques. There are many different types of magnification and the vision rehab specialists will work with the patient to define which type will be best for them. 

What is low vision?

Low vision occurs when people have vision loss that cannot be corrected with medical or surgical intervention. A low vision patient will have a vision of 20/40 or worse in their better seeing eye or a significant loss of visual field. 

Will the vision rehabilitation department make me see better?

In most cases we will not fix the damage that has already occurred. We typically work with areas that are not damaged from the eye condition. Therefore if you have lost central acuity we will work with an area that is away from the central acuity, by using magnification to allow the patient to see the objects that they desire. 

Why can’t I just have a pair of glasses made?

In patients who have vision loss, a change in their spectacle prescription will not necessarily make them see better. Each person has a unique prescription that will focus the light rays on the retina. Giving someone a stronger or weaker prescription will make those light rays not focus on the retina any longer and actually make their vision worse by changing their glasses. What we attempt to do is use magnification techniques and lenses for specific tasks that allow the patients to function at a higher level. 

I’ve tried magnifiers and they don’t work.

Not all magnifiers are created equal. There are many different powers of magnifiers available on the market. Most of the magnifiers that one can buy in a retail store are low powered magnifiers. They are typically used by people who have little to no vision loss. Because most people don’t need high-powered magnifiers retailers are reluctant to keep them in stock. Vision rehabilitation doctors will prescribe the appropriate power of magnifier for a patient that will allow them to read the size print that they are interested in. In the Vision Rehabilitation department we have many different styles, types, and power of magnifiers. This allows us to tailor specific devices to the patient needs. 

What is legal blindness?

Legal blindness is when a person has 20/200 central vision or worse in the better seeing eye with their glasses or has a central field of less than 20 degrees. Legally blind people can be eligible for tax breaks and other government services. 

Why can’t my regular eye doctor do vision rehabilitation?

Most optometrists or ophthalmologists will do vision rehabilitation on one level or another. Doctors will prescribe appropriate magnification within the spectacles. They may even have magnifiers in their office for a patient to try out. Vision Rehabilitation requires the patient to try many different types of magnifiers and devices. It is not time effective or cost effective for most eye doctors to keep these devices in their offices. Vision Rehabilitation is a specialty of eye care and most eye doctors are more comfortable referring a patient to vision rehabilitation doctors who can do a more extensive work up for the patient. 

What about driving?

The laws in most states are very specific to when a patient can and cannot drive in terms of their vision. In Wisconsin a patient must be able to see 20/100 to be able to obtain a drivers license that has significant restrictions. They also must have enough peripheral field. If either of these conditions is not met the state does not extend a drivers license to the patient. If at any time the driver does not meet the standards of the state, they are obligated to remove themselves from driving. 

What are low vision devices?

Low Vision devices are magnifiers (in all their various forms), whether they are spectacle mounted, hand held, stands, or electronic. Other Low Vision devices are products for glare control, field enhancers, products that help patients adapt to their vision loss, and products that help patients maintain their activities of daily living. Anything that allows a patient who has vision loss with their ability to do the task they want to do on a day-to-day basis is considered a Low Vision devise. 

What is the cost of this service?

This service is typically covered by most insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare, and in some cases by the state. For those who are not covered by any of those entities the cost is determined by the amount of time that the patient spends in the Vision Rehabilitation Department and the degree of help that they need with their specific tasks. For almost all of the devices that are prescribed the patient will bare the cost. Very few insurance entities will provide for the cost of Low Vision devices.