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Help for people with low vision

Experts are projecting that one in 28 Americans will feel the effects of low-vision problems by 2020.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — An increasing number of people are losing their eyesight, yet few are told that options exist for maintaining their independence. 

Experts are projecting that one in 28 Americans will feel the effects of low-vision problems by 2020, yet only about 15 percent of people who have low vision are referred to low-vision care.

Vice-Chair of The Vision Council and low vision expert Richard Tapping offers tips to regain your independence. He say a person with low vision may need four to five different tools to do their daily tasks. Some of the best entry-level options for low vision will help you reclaim your lifestyle. Here are some additional suggestions:

Better lighting: “If you put illumination over printed material, it may help improve your ability to read. An elderly person requires nearly three times as much light as a 20-year-old. A person who is visually impaired will need even more lighting,” says Noon.

Low-vision eyeglasses: “Most people want glasses because that’s what they are used to using, but they don’t know that low-vision glasses are available,” explains Tapping. “Whereas a typical eyeglass lens power is 2-1/2 to 3 diopters, a low-vision rehabilitation specialist can prescribe glasses that go up to 80 diopters in a lens.” Eye doctors who do not perform low-vision rehabilitation do not prescribe these special glasses.

Digital video magnifiers: “The standard optical magnifier (commonly called a magnifying lens) has just one strength and may cause distortion. There is now a digital magnifier, that digitizes the image and puts it onto the screen with no distortion.

Wearable high-definition technology. “As technology becomes more sophisticated, it will help even more people. There is a battery-operated, full-color portable system. Worn like a pair of glasses, its high-definition, auto-focus camera and five levels of brightness control enable you to see near, far and everything in between.”

Bioptic telescopes for driving. Worn like glasses, bioptic telescopes enable many visually impaired individuals to drive, see TV and see other distant objects. While each state’s laws are different, in some states a person may have up to 20/200 vision and legally drive when using bioptic telescopes.

Full HD electronic magnifying cameras. “Imagine pointing a camera at your crafts or paperwork and having a clear, sharp image appear on a large screen.” A 3-in-1 camera offers a wide field of view, bright sharp colors and bold contrast. Just rotate the camera to magnify images in the distance. It can also be used up close like a mirror for applying makeup or other personal grooming.