West Suffolk Voluntary Association for the Blind

Independence and Low Vision Therapy (LVT)

Nationally, around 90% of people registered as blind have some potentially useful sight but, the nature of their eye condition means that most of them are either unaware of their sight potential and or do not know how use it effectively.   Low Vision Therapy is a technique that enables most individuals who retain some sight to make full and effective use of their residual vision.

Low Vision Therapy Sessions

A low vision therapy session comprises, a residual sight assessment, needs elucidation followed by training and introduction of appropriate aids.  The whole process normally takes about an hour but a further training session may be required for some.  Referrals from Opticians and from within the Association’s own membership means that we have a high demand for the service.

Low vision therapy session
Client viewing contrast chart with Therapist. Vision can be improved with appropriate magnification, correct lighting and the use of coloured filters amongst other things.

Currently, we provide a clinic on alternate Saturdays, held by a part time Optima trained LV Therapist.  This equates to around 20 full sessions per month including domiciliary visits.

One of the overriding considerations is the holistic nature of LVT. This takes into account what specific activities the individual wants to use their sight for and takes into consideration other health conditions. Full use is made of adaptive and assistive technology in finding solutions to meet individual need including eccentric fixation, computers and other specialist equipment.

Testimonial

I can’t begin to express how I really felt when, not long after my husband passed away, I discovered I had cancer. If this wasn’t enough to cope with I found my eyesight deteriorating quite rapidly and it took several weeks before getting to a consultant who told me that I had wet Macular disease in one eye.

It was recommended that a drug delivered by eye injection would be beneficial as this might arrest further sight deterioration.

Notwithstanding this, I felt isolated and in despair.

Fearful

Metaphorically, it was like a large black hole that was opening up in front of me.  Fearful of what lay ahead, the sight loss zapped my confidence completely. I got in touch with the local Macular support group and found that this was organised by the West Suffolk Blind Association who I had never heard of.

Not only did I meet others with my condition (I thought I was the only one), I was encouraged to explore the other services the Association provided.   My first contact coincided with the launch of a pilot they were conducting for a new service called Low Vision Therapy.

Amazed

I was amazed, not only did they discover where my remaining useful sight was located; they taught me how, with the use of a magnifier, appropriate lighting and a special technique, I could make best use of it.

A novice bowls player, the Association learnt that I could not distinguish between my bowls and those of my opponents in front of me – never mind at 25 yards!

Within a short space of time with the aid of a monocular and being shown how to use it to best effect, I could read a car number plate at 50 yards – In fact, I left the office being able to read newspaper print size!

I can’t begin to tell you what a difference this has made to my life, my confidence and hope for the future.

In addition, the staff had time for me and my other problems as a human being in my own right – they really do care and have done so much more for me with their limited resources than I could ever have imagined.


macular diagram

Another residual vision assessment tool, mapping the Scotomas (blind spots) in central vision caused by age related Macular Degeneration (wet or dry).  This assessment often leads to training in a technique known as ‘eccentric fixation’ which, coupled with appropriate lighting, magnification and occasionally, filtration, means reading ability can be improved significantly.

In real terms an improvement as in the above case from before
Here to afterwards Here


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