See beyond a low vision diagnosis | Press room
Randy lost most of his vision in both eyes due to a stroke last February. Limited to light perception and with no hope of regaining his sight, Randy began to adapt to his new life.
A few months later, Randy’s cousin saw a news story about low vision rehabilitation being offered by an Aspirus occupational therapist in Stevens Point. She convinced Randy and his wife to drive 155 miles from their home in western Wisconsin to try.
Today, Randy already sees better and lives more independently, thanks to techniques he’s learning from Amanda Whipple, MS, OTR/L, SCLV – one of five Wisconsin occupational therapists with specialist rehabilitation certification from low vision by the American Occupational Therapy Association.
“Specially trained occupational therapists can help restore independence in the activities that matter most to people with low vision,” Whipple said.
Low vision is a visual impairment that does not improve with corrective lenses, making it difficult to perform regular daily tasks. The most common forms of low vision are age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma. Low vision can also be caused by concussion, brain injury or, like Randy, stroke.
Whipple has helped many of his patients see better. His techniques include:
- work on the strength and endurance of the eye muscles,
- find where their patient’s vision is best, and/or
- work on the communication between the eyes and the brain.
Whipple also teaches her patients ways to increase their safety and independence at home, at work and in the community. She equips them with a variety of techniques and strategies tailored to their unique needs.
Whipple also advocates protecting your eyes, even when you have normal vision. Here are some ways to protect your eyes:
- Routine visits to the ophthalmologist (optometrist or ophthalmologist).
- Wear eye protection when performing tasks where objects can fly, such as trimming shrubs, felling trees, woodworking, construction, frying food, practicing sports with flying objects such as a ball or puck and riding your bike.
- Limit screen time and take short breaks with your eyes closed.
- Avoid harmful blue light rays from screen use by wearing blue light blocking glasses or using a special computer filter.
- Watch for signs of eye strain. If your eyes start to get tired or burnt, or if you feel a headache after being on your computer all day, be sure to stop and take some time to rest your eyes to prevent it from getting worse. ‘worsen.
“Vision loss can be scary,” Whipple said. “But specially trained occupational therapists can help visually impaired people get back to life fully.”
To find out if low vision therapy can help, call Aspirus – Stevens Point Ambulatory Therapy Services at 715-345-1447. To learn more about eye care services offered by Aspirus Health, visit aspirus.org/eye-care-surgery.