Richard J. Shuldiner
With February designated as Age-Related Macular Degeneration Month, the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists is calling attention to recent advancements and resources available in low vision
“It is no longer acceptable for a doctor to say to an AMD patient: ‘Nothing more can be done,’” Richard J. Shuldiner, OD, FAAO, FIALVS, International Academy of Low Vision Specialists (IALVS) president, told Primary Care Optometry News.
“The doctors of IALVS want to encourage macular degeneration patients to enlist the aid of two different eye specialists,” he added.
A January IALVS press release was a reminder for the public, “that macular degeneration is not just an eye disease, but a vision loss condition that robs people of their happiness and independence,” Shuldiner said.
“Until a breakthrough to eliminate this degenerative disease that robs its victims of their sharp, central vision appears, it's a relief to see steady progress being made to keep patients functional, safe and independent,” according to the press release.
An estimated 3 million Americans will be diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration by 2020, but it is no longer as life-altering as it once was, the release said.
For optimum care, however, most patients need to know to seek help. In addition to a retinal specialist to provide expert medical treatment and monitoring of AMD, patients should see a low vision optometrist, according to the release.
Shuldiner said that low vision optometrists can help by designing special low vision glasses to help people live their lives.
In addition, the low vision optometrists of IALVS further help patients make the most of their remaining vision by providing nutritional guidance and recommendations for improved lighting. They also continue to pioneer the field by conducting trials of new devices and glasses, according to the release.
“Recent advances include low power telescopic glasses (LPTS) for full-time wear,” Shuldiner said. “Bioptic and full diameter telescopic glasses, as invented by William Feinbloom, OD, PhD, many decades ago, are still an excellent choice for those requiring 200% to 300% magnification. Those low vision glasses are highly useful for reading signs when driving or seeing the faces of their loved ones, but shouldn’t be used full time. The newly invented LPTS, with 3% to 12% magnification, fill the gap between conventional spectacles and telescopic spectacles and are constant-wear glasses,” he said.
The IALVS consists of 39 low vision optometrists throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“They can consult with eye care practitioners by phone or perform a low vision evaluation on their patient and return the patient for continuing primary care,” Shuldiner said. – by Abigail Sutton
Disclosure: Shuldiner is a diplomate in the low vision section of the American Academy of Optometry and clinical director of Low Vision Optometry of Southern California. All members of the IALVS have completed the low vision intensive training course created and directed by Shuldiner. He has practiced low vision care for 44 years.