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What to Expect from a Vision Specialist if You Have Diabetic Macular Edema
How a Vision Specialist Can Help You Manage Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)
Certified low vision therapists (CLVTs and SCLVs) can help people use low vision devices and make safety adjustments to their home, work, and school environments, according to the American Foundation for the Blind. They can also provide counseling to you or other members of your family, and can answer any questions about your diagnosis.
Specialists can help people who’ve experienced some vision loss maximize their remaining sight, explains Mark Wilkinson, MD, a vision rehab specialist at University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, who has worked with Lowe over the years.
For example, Lowe, a retired college dean and professor, has trouble driving at night. “It’s really difficult to see with the headlights,” he says. But after investing in a specialized pair of glasses, he now sees much better when he finds himself behind the wheel in the evening. He also uses a different set of glasses during the day, which help tone down the brightness.
To find a certified low vision specialist near you, you can search the databases of the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals and the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Dr. Wilkinson also recommends these strategies to help with low vision:
- Invest in a magnifying lens.“A magnifying glass can help words appear clearer and larger,” says Wilkinson, who adds that there’s no shame in using it to read books, newspapers, or magazines. You can also have a magnifying lens mounted to your everyday glasses.
- Play with the contrast on your electronic devices.The light and font color on your tablet, laptop, and phone can be adjusted to make the screen easier to read, says Wilkinson. Plus, you can often change the contrast of the words. “Reading white text on a black background is oftentimes a lot easier for people with DME,” he says.
- Find a good pair of glasses.“The right glasses and the right prescription can make a world of difference,” says Wilkinson. “This is especially important for everyday tasks such as reading and driving.” As Lowe has found, nighttime glasses that have special lens can make it easier to see the lines on the road when you’re driving; plus, they also help alleviate the effects of bright headlights.
- Sit closer to the screen.Though it may seem obvious, Wilkinson often tells people to sit a little closer to their television. “If you’re having trouble seeing what’s on the screen, moving closer to it can help tremendously.”
Although Lowe has had several surgeries over the years to address his DME, he also continues to employ the tactics that Wilkinson has showed him. At home, Lowe often uses a magnifying glass while reading and adjusts the contrast on his mobile devices.
“These little things really help me see better,” he says.
Video: What to Expect at UW Health Low Vision Clinic
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