- About Us
Low vision, partial sight and visual impairment mean the same thing – reduced visual acuity which, even with the best optical correction, results in a visual performance that is less than ideal. There are many causes of low vision. The condition may be present from birth, it may be acquired as a result of ageing, it may be a systemic or ocular disease, or it may be caused by trauma to the eye. In the UK, the major causes of visual impairment include age-related macula degeneration, diabetes and glaucoma.
As the average age of the population increases, so does the incidence of age-related health problems. Improvements in the medical management of illnesses such as diabetes also mean that associated eye problems become more prevalent. In all cases, early detection is essential to ensure the optimum treatment and management of any condition. In many cases, altering the power or the spectacles will not achieve the desired effect, i.e. an improvement in visual quality. Recent advances in technology, together with a better understanding of the conditions causing low vision, mean that there is now an extensive range of appliances, gadgets and techniques by which improved quality of vision can be achieved.
At G.T. Harvey we provide a low vision service whereby people can come in and discuss their individual needs, and the suitability of various aids can be assessed and tried. Advice and training can be given on the many ways - often quite simple - in which optimum vision can be achieved.
The initial assessment usually lasts for approximately one hour. A detailed ocular and general history is taken and visual acuity is measured. If an eye examination has not been carried out recently, the spectacle prescription may be checked. A detailed discussion is carried out during which the patient is encouraged to talk about their concerns, priorities and expectations. Once the visual status and the requirements of the patient have been established, the available options will be discussed. A selection of possible aids will be demonstrated and, if suitable, the patient may be invited to take them home for a more realistic trial.
A follow-up appointment will be arranged, usually in 3 or 4 weeks time when the success of the aid can be reviewed. If the patient has found the aid to be useful, they then have the option of purchasing it. If the aid has not been successful, alternatives may be suggested and tried. Once a patient has successfully tried and purchased an appliance, they are encouraged to return at any time if they have any problems with the device, or if their visual needs change and other types of aid are required.
Appliances for use as low visual aids are available in a wide range of shapes, sizes, complexity and expense. They can be optical devices, such as magnifiers, telescopes and spectacle lenses, or non-optical, such as CCTVs and gadgets which have been adapted for use by visually impaired people.
Hand-held magnifiers are the simplest form of device providing basic magnification and are the preferred choice of many patients. They are available in a wide range of shapes, sizes and powers and are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Other types of magnifiers available include stand-mounted, illuminated, pocket-sized and pendant magnifiers. One of the biggest complaints of magnifier users is that the lens size isn’t large enough. Unfortunately, due to the nature of lenses, as the power increases, the size has to decrease, otherwise the amount of distortion produced would render the lens impractical.
Telescopic magnifiers are literally miniature telescopes that can be spectacle mounted. They are also available in clip-on form. Telescopic magnifiers can be used for near or distance vision, and have an adjustable focus. Some patients find them tricky to manipulate, but with patience and practice they can be very useful.
There are a variety of CCTV systems available that allow magnified images to be viewed directly on a television screen or computer monitor. Technological advances mean that these systems are available in a selection of models of varying complexity, ability and price. All CCTV systems require a degree of manipulative skill, but again, with practice and patience, they can be invaluable tools.
There are many ways by which vision can be improved without the use of special optical appliances. These include improving illumination in the home, the use of colour contrasts, and an extensive range of specially adapted devices and gadgets that can be used around the home, or out and about, to make everyday jobs easier.
£69 (includes first follow-up appointment)
Further appointments (as required) £39 each.