Article Date: 3/1/2010

The Rewards of Low Vision Work
device focus

The Rewards of Low Vision Work

New low vision aids provide performance and portability.

JEAN A. ASTORINO, O.D.

Many low vision patients now present with more useable vision than in the past. This is mainly the result of recent advancements such as anti-VEGF and steroid injections for conditions such as neo-vascular macular degeneration, vein occlusions, and diabetic maculopathy. In addition, many eye doctors refer patients for low vision much sooner than in times past — that is, referring when regular glasses no longer satisfy functional needs rather than when the vision reaches very low levels. Better acuities, combined with new and innovative low vision devices, provide low vision doctors with great potential for successful clinical outcomes.

One size does not fit all

Low vision tools and strategies that work for one patient do not necessarily work for the next. That is why my low vision practice uses a vision rehabilitation model. This involves using a low vision doctor for trial frame refracting and coordinating a patient's care combined with training from a low vision occupational therapist. Working from the low vision doctor's plan of care, the occupational therapist trains the patient on practical tasks with each category of device prior to finalizing device decisions. This is a crucial step as insurances do not usually cover the cost of devices. Therefore, the extensive training prior to final device prescription allows maximum functional improvement for the patient who often pays out of pocket.

Portable solutions

When finding that a patient's reading goals are best met with video magnification and portability is necessary, there are now several options to choose from.

The Optelec Compact Mini weighs 4.7 ounces and offers magnification from 2x to 11x.

For example, Optelec's Compact+ is a portable and “compact” device that costs $595. It measures 5.3 inches x 3 inches and weighs 10.2 ounces, so the patient can carry the device throughout the day for all reading needs. Its screen measures 4.3 inches. The screen can enlarge images from 5x to 10x and can be viewed in color, black on white, white on black, yellow on blue, or yellow on black modes.

The image on the screen can be frozen if the patient needs to capture it and then move to another location to view and/or magnify it. It includes a handle that can be unfolded.

The lighter side

However, if a patient should require an even more lightweight, portable option, the Compact Mini ($395) has just become available. Smaller than the Compact+, it weighs 4.7 ounces and measures 3.5 inches x 2.7 inches with a screen size of 3.5 inches. It has magnification of 2x to 11x, modes of color, black on white, white on black, yellow on blue, yellow on black, and it too has the freeze frame function. The integrated lithium battery offers a battery life of three to four hours of continuous use.

The diminutive size of the Compact Mini makes it somewhat easier to slip into a purse or shirt pocket but the compromise is a smaller field of view that many patients find to be less appealing for periods of extended reading. Its collapsible reading stand can be used to stabilize the focal distance.

With all of the recent advancements in both devices and treatments, it is truly an exciting time to work in the field of low vision! OM

Visit www.ShopLowVision.com for more information on Optelec products.


DR. ASTORINO FOUNDED ASTORINO VISION REHABILITATION WHICH NOW HAS LOCATIONS IN FOUR PENNSYLVANIA COUNTIES SURROUNDING PHILADELPHIA AND ONE IN WILMINGTON, DELAWARE. DR. ASTORINO CAN BE REACHED AT LOWVISION@ASTORINOVISIONREHAB.COM.

Optometric Management, Issue: March 2010