For many AMD patients, the hardest challenge is adapting to life with impaired vision. However, by retraining existing peripheral vision, modifying the patient’s environment and using available low vision devices and aids, AMD patients can continue to maintain their lifestyle and independence.
Also known as “sight enhancement” services, low vision rehabilitation services are available in most countries but systems of delivery and the range of services available vary considerably. Public healthcare funding for low vision rehabilitation services and devices, as detailed in the 2003 AMD Alliance International Global Campaign Report, also varies significantly. Please contact your local Alliance member for advice, information and referral, or ask your eye doctor for a referral to a low vision specialist near you. You can find contact details of our member organizations in the About Us and by clicking on our Global Members section of this site. Alternatively, contact any reputable visual impairment organization in your own country. Learning about vision rehabilitation services early, and understanding how they can actually improve everyday functioning, can greatly help you deal with AMD and your changing vision. Rehabilitation includes low vision assessment, adaptive living, low vision devices, vision training, counseling support and benefits advice as well as orientation and mobility training.
It is important that you seek assistance from low vision specialists and vision rehabilitation experts. These experts can help you use your remaining sight to its full and teach you new ways to accomplish everyday tasks – whether it’s traveling safely, taking care of your home, preparing meals, cooking safely, managing your medications, reading a book, writing a letter, shopping or watching television. Low vision rehabilitation is a team effort often involving the low vision specialist (an optometrist or ophthalmologist skilled in the examination, treatment and management of patients with visual impairments), rehabilitation teachers, mobility and orientation specialists, occupational therapists, technicians, and other professions as needed.
Critical to the success of vision rehabilitation is the low vision assessment. This is different from a regular eye exam which determines how well you can see the eye chart. The low vision assessment is designed to accurately measure how your vision functions in day-to-day living – being able to see faces, street signs, newspaper print, stove dials, etc. Not only does the assessment measure how well you see at a distance and up close, additional tests evaluate contrast sensitivity and locate blurry or distorted areas in the visual field. The vision specialist is interested in knowing if your vision is affected by glare and different lighting conditions; do you see better when you look slightly away from the object?
In addition, the low vision specialist wants to determine how your vision impairment impacts your life. Do you travel independently? Can you safely prepare your own meals? What about grocery shopping, making phone calls or taking medications? Can you write checks and manage other financial tasks? This information allows the creation of a vision rehabilitation program that is right for you.
AMD Alliance International is not a medical organisation, therefore we can only provide general information that is not intended to be a substitute for a proper medical assessment. Please read our eye health information disclaimer.