One of the most important reasons to go and have a comprehensive examination done with a low vision optometrist is for the educational component. Many of my patients and their family members that come in don't really understand what it is that's going on, and what the impact of that is functionally in their day to day activities. So for instance, that patient may be managed by a retina doctor, and they may be receiving injections on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. But yet, they don't really understand why their loved one can't do certain things at home, so maybe they can see something small on the carpet to pick up. But yet, they're not able to see other things that seemingly they should be able to. So a lot of an exam in a low vision setting is spent educating the patient and their family members about what is going on. And the importance of that is that then is going to allow the family to help the patient cope better with the vision loss.
Anytime a patient has a drop in vision, both initially and ongoing with progressive conditions, they will go through an inevitable grieving period. And that's important and they have to go through that. But part of what we need to do is be able to support them and get them through the grieving period. So part of that is just the understanding and being able to talk to them about it. We may also need to involve other professionals, for example a licensed therapist who has a background in adjustment counseling, so somebody who can specifically talk to them about adjusting to vision loss.
As a parent of a child with low vision and a doctor that has worked with many low vision patients and their families over the years, I have a strong appreciation of the impact to both the patient and family that vision loss can have. It is so important for the patient to have their families support at this time, and also to have their family members understand what it is that they are experiencing and may need help with. I also find it equally as important for the family members, who are also entering a new world of helping their loved ones adapt to vision loss, and they can really feel empowered when they understand their role in supporting a family member with vision loss.
Learn more about tips for family members of someone with vision loss here.
Call our office at (423) 710 3965 to schedule a low vision exam.