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Eye and Vision Care

Legally Blind

12/17/2009

Question:

my father is diabetic,he has had laser surgery to stop or prevent bleeding in the eyes,in his left eye after surgery for an implant he developed a retina tear,they put a gas or silicone bubble to hold it while it healed,during this time,he says he could still see out of that eye,but the doctor kept putting off removing the bubble,they were afraid of eye shrinkage,so eventually he lost all vision in that eye and is permanantly blind in it,the other eye,he is legally blind in,with a magnifiing glass(one in particular)he says it helps him see if looking at a label,or shopping with a nurse,the low vision clinic says they can help make glasses for him to help his low vision,but he was told by eye doctors(speacialist for retinopothy) glasses wouldnt help,do they have some sort of special glasses that are stronger than a magnifiing glass?is there any option to give him better vision,such as an eye implant?has anyone ever had an eye implanted?any help would be great,

Answer:

I understand why you are confused about the messages you are getting about the role of glasses for your father.  I suspect that the confusion arises from the difference between the typical kinds of glasses and special glasses for people with reduced (or "low") vision. 

Typical prescription glasses for distance viewing are designed so that the image of the world is focused by the eyeglass lenses and the natural lenses in the eye such that a clear and "in focus" image lands on the retina lining the eyeball.  There is usually only one such prescription for a person and the power of that prescription is determined by the size and shape of the eyeball. 

Special glasses for people with low vision come in a few different varieties.  Some are designed for reading and include extra strong lenses.  With such glasses, reading materials need to be brought closer to the face than normal.  Other special glasses are designed with built-in telescopes that can help with viewing at greater distances.  There are ranges of prices for such specialty glasses.  If expensive models are being recommended, there may be value in seeking a second opinion from another doctor who specializes in low vision care to help ensure that the most beneficial options are considered. 

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Response by:

Roanne   Flom, OD Roanne Flom, OD
Professor of Clinical Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University