February is Low Vision Month, a month that brings awareness to any incurable visual impairment that can negatively impact everyday life and make regular activities difficult to do. This is why many of the top priorities at the School of Optometry and Vision Science (UWOVS) include providing services for patients with low vision and delving into research on conditions that lead to vision loss.
Visual impairment leading to low vision can be devastating. Low vision cannot be fixed with glasses, contact lenses, or other standard treatments like medicine and surgery. When it comes low vision, the use of vision assessments, vision aids, and counselling can help improve quality of life and maximize independence for those who are impaired.
The George and Judy Woo Centre for Sight Enhancement Low Vision Clinic is one such area where the School provides a comprehensive range of vision rehabilitation services. The Low Vision Clinic offers rehabilitation through assessments and specialty visual aids such as closed-circuit televisions, computer adaptations, and tools for daily living. Not only that, but the clinic also aids in accessing government programs and services and connecting you with groups serving the low vision population.
“There is hope for anyone confronted with an incurable eye condition. Implementing different tools and strategies really can allow you to continue doing the activities that you would like to do,” says Dr. Tammy Labreche, director of the George and Judy Woo Centre for Sight Enhancement.
Conditions that cause vision loss and treatments are one of the main focuses of research within UWOVS. One such treatment being looked at for macular degeneration is making great strides. This would be transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a non-invasive, painless brain stimulation. Using direct electrical currents to stimulate the visual cortex, tDCS helps the brain use information it receives from the eye as efficiently as possible.
As Andrew Silva, postdoctoral fellow here in UWOVS stated in Waterloo News, “This finding is exciting because this is the first study to demonstrate brain stimulation in patients with macular degeneration had a positive impact on an important real-world skill like reading.”
Low vision does not allow you to see well enough, making it difficult to do regular activities such as reading, shopping, driving, or cooking. There are a variety of types of low vision with the most common types being:
- Central vision loss (where you are unable to see in the center of your vision)
- Peripheral vision loss (where you are unable to see out of the corners of your eyes)
- Night blindness (where you are unable to see in low light)
- Blurry or hazy vision
When it comes to low vision, it is dependent on the disease or condition that caused it. The usual suspects causing low vision include age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.
If you or a loved on is suffering from low vision, you can connect and make an appointment with our Low Vision Clinic team: