Why Simply Prescribing a Reading Device May Be a Shortsighted Solution for Low Vision Patients
The major goal in low vision care for central vision loss is to magnify images sufficiently to make them easily visible by the patient.
While the majority of our visually impaired patients seek to improve their ability to read, studies show that nearly 65% of patients also seek better distance vision.
When it comes to daily near-point tasks like reading, low vision patients may know that they can read the newspaper headlines but not the small print. Naturally, as prescribers, we use magnification to make the small print large enough to be easily legible. However, optical magnification minimizes the field of view, distorts the image, shortens the working distance, and constrains the depth of field—all of which can undermine reading fluency and increase fatigue. So, especially when extended reading is desired, the best solution may be large print, electronic magnification, or even books on tape.
However, as compared to reading where a range of low vision aid options are available, there are only two options to enhance distance vision—move up closer, or bring it closer optically with a telescope.
Loss of distance vision can impact individuals in many ways. Children may have increased challenges learning and socializing, adults face difficulties with their independence which impacts career and personal goals, and seniors can begin to feel isolated and depressed.
When it comes to visual activities that must be performed at a distance like recognizing faces, watching a movie or TV, seeing in the classroom, or while driving, optical telescopes remain the gold standard. Available in a range of styles, powers and prescribing options, telescopic low vision aids are an important component of at thorough and patient-centered low vision rehabilitation assessment.