Dr. Greene to Lead The Vision Council’s Low Vision Division

Ocutech co-founder and President, Henry Greene, OD, FAAO, has been elected in-coming chair of the Low Vision Division of The Vision Council (sponsor of Vision Expo East and West). His 2-year term begins in late January 2022. 

“I am honored to have been chosen to lead the Low Vision Division during what promises to be a very exciting time for the vision rehabilitation specialty.  I take over the reins from outgoing chair, Richard Tapping, who has lead the division during the many challenges posed by the COVID pandemic.”

As the first optometrist to take on this role, Dr. Greene plans to address issues that he feels will be helpful for all members of the low vision care community. 

One of the most common refrains that low vision providers hear is ‘How come no one has told me about low vision care until now?’

Addressing this lack of awareness will guide our efforts during Dr. Greene’s term in office.  Specifically the LVD goals will include:

  • Increasing awareness of low vision care on a national basis
  • Creating a national directory of low vision care providers
  • Improving and facilitating methods for the referral of patients for low vision care

To stay updated on the LVD initiatives and to express your potential interest to join a national directory of low vision care providers click here.

“The Vision Council is thrilled to welcome Dr. Greene into the Chair role for the Low Vision Division. From fostering a high level of engagement between members and division leadership to raising awareness of low vision rehabilitation among eyecare providers as well as visually impaired consumers and their caregivers, Dr. Greene will play a key role in moving the division forward,” said Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council.

Battery Belt Clips Now Available


When we were getting ready to release the Falcon in late 2018, we tested many different batteries to find one with stable power output (they’re not all of equivalent quality) and that had a belt clip to make them easier to wear. We finally found one that we liked and ordered a sufficient quantity for our expected sales for the first two years. The vendor promised us that the battery would not be discontinued and that we would always be able to order more. 

We are pleased to say that orders for the Falcon exceeded our expectations and we ran out of batteries sooner than we had planned. And, as you might have expected, the battery we selected was no longer available. We did find a dependable replacement battery (who knows how long this one will be available), but it came without a belt clip. 

So, now we have finally found a self-adhesive belt clip that can be attached to the battery. All future Falcon orders will include an unattached belt clip that you or your patient can apply themselves (easy instructions included). If you have patients using batteries without a clip who would like one, please let us know and we’ll mail one to them directly to save you the effort. Just specify whether they would prefer a white or black color.

Here’s an Amazon link to the velcro tabs we use, though they can be found on other sites and often also in crafts and fabric stores.  Click here->

“She Became So Much More Curious”— How a visually impaired 15 Year Old’s World Suddenly Changed

Cheryl Jones didn’t know how to respond after taking her daughter, Leah, to yet another eye doctor to see why her daughter had so much difficulty seeing clearly, when the doctor told them “she’s probably pretending to have such bad eyesight so she can wear cool glasses like her friends.”

Her daughter— who was in fourth grade at the time— couldn’t believe it either.  She’d been struggling since kindergarten to see the board and her friends in her classroom. She had already been to eight specialists by the time of this visit and none could explain why she couldn’t see the TV if she sat on the couch with her parents. She always had to sit right up in front of the screen to be able to see anything.

It was a year later, at age ten, that Leah’s diagnosis was finally made. Upon walking into the room, the doctor saw Leah try to read the eye chart while tilting her head to the side. “He knew straight away what my daughter had—Stargardt’s disease”—a juvenile form of macular degeneration— “It was such a relief to finally know what was going on,” Ms. Jones recalled, thoughtfully.

Stargardt’s disease is a rare genetic eye disease that affects the macula, the central part of the retina that normally provides our sharp 20/20 vision. The disorder impacts about one in 10,000 people. Early on it may be very difficult for eye doctors to diagnose Stargardt’s Disease because the macula can appear normal for many years, prompting some doctors to think that the child might be fibbing. But eventually the macula does begin to change and the diagnosis can be made.

Understanding Stargardt’s Disease

Once her Stargardt’s diagnosis was made, Leah was introduced into the world of low vision aids—special equipment and software that enlarges print to make it easier to see and access.  But not that it was easy! Leah could be found in school rolling her heavy backpack, full of large print materials and bulky equipment like her electronic screen magnifier called a CCTV that has a special camera used to enlarge print. In each classroom, Leah would have to wheel her bag in and set up her equipment, and when she got to high school, it meant doing it sometimes eight times a day. And to get around school with her heavy rolling backpack, she’d have to use the school’s elevator requiring special permissions, forms and signatures— a parent’s nightmare.

“Her school librarian was moved to help us by adding a large print section in the library for Leah. Though it took a long time for Leah to finish reading each book, we felt that her gesture was so kind and sympathetic— it’s just one of many examples of how we’ve learned to navigate the challenges that Leah faces day to day,” her mother explained.

But about one month ago, Leah’s navigation through her visual impairment took a spectacular turn.

 

Leah was referred to Dr. Sonya Braudway, an optometric physician who specializes in low vision rehabilitation in Lakeland, Florida. Working at the Center for Retina and Macular Disease, Dr. Braudway demonstrated a pair of special eyeglasses designed for the visually impaired. These low vision aids, called Ocutech Bioptics, contain miniature telescopes that work like binoculars. In mere moments, Leah felt the ground shift under her feet.

“I’ve never seen her read an eye chart so fast,” Ms. Jones said, smiling. “Suddenly, my mother, my daughter and I all started crying, realizing the miracle that had just happened.”

Leah, whose vision is normally 20/400, can now see 20/60 with her special Ocutech bioptics— a reality made possible by her grandparents who purchased them for Leah when they saw how happy they made her.

“It’s like getting to watch her grow up again overnight,” her mother said. “She’s become so much more curious about the world, because now she can see it, just like any normal kid.”  And since her bioptic is focusable, she can use them to see better at any distance she needs including the TV, her computer, her Nintendo, as well as her art projects.

Low Vision Rehabilitation

Dr. Braudway has prescribed Ocutech bioptics for children many times before. “It’s one of the most rewarding things I can do,” she said.  “The impact that bioptics can have for children can be so profound. It helps them come out of their shell, and the smiles we see when they first begin to use it—oh my! It’s a shame that more families don’t know about this technology.  It can be so pivotal in their children’s lives.”

These days, Leah, now 15, attends Excel Christian Academy in Lakeland, Florida. She’s happily adjusting to her new life as an Ocutech user.  Whether it’s joining her classmates in the hallway instead of riding alone in the elevator, sitting between her parents on the couch to watch television together, finally getting to read signs, go shopping, see her friends and family— and even enjoying trips to the zoo where for the first time she can really see the sloths and giraffes in their pens— Leah is excited about what it all means for her future.

“Now we’ll find her looking at our old wedding photos hanging on the wall, staring at the wedding dress, the flowers and our family’s faces— seeing them all with quite literally a fresh pair of eyes,” Leah’s mother shared. “It’s amazing what a difference these glasses have made for her in such a short period of time; I’m not worrying so much anymore— she’s so much more independent and happy… [the way] every girl her age deserves to be.”

Ocutech bioptics are prescribed by Low Vision Specialists throughout the world.  To learn more about Ocutech bioptics, and whether you, your child, or a loved one might be a candidate contact Ocutech at info@ocutech.com.

 

 

The Importance of Ocular Dominance in Low Vision Care

By Henry Greene, OD, FAAO

Over the years experienced practitioners tend to ‘go where the action is.’  What this means to me is that we refine our testing methods to do the tests that are most instructive in managing the patient and stop doing tests that don’t tell us much.

One such test that I have found very helpful is testing for ocular dominance. I’ve written a short blog post about Ocular Dominance and I’ve shared it here.

All of us have a dominant eye, just as we do a dominant hand and foot. Some of us have a very strong dominance while others can easily switch between eyes. I have a very strongly dominant right eye.  I can barely localize when looking through a monocular telescope with my left eye, and it took forever for me to learn to use my left eye with my handheld ophthalmoscope (dating myself, aren’t I?)

As we know, the dominant eye superimposes over the non-dominant eye. If the non-dominant eye is the only eye with reduced acuity, the patient might not even notice it.  However, if the dominant eye has the reduced acuity, they’ll be on the phone to us immediately. 

Whenever I have a patient with markedly different acuity between the eyes, I always have them cover the poorer-seeing eye.  If they report that they see better with that eye closed, than the covered eye is likely the dominant eye and this will impact all my prescribing decisions both distance and near.  When the poorer-seeing eye is the dominant eye and it drags down binocular vision I call it a “dominancy conflict.”

Most individuals find that sighting and localizing through a monocular telescope is much easier when using the dominant eye. In fact, many individuals are unable to aim or sight through a telescope with the non-dominant eye (like me!).  As a result, the ability for the patient to localize through a bioptic telescope will be much more natural if they are using their dominant eye.

Another easy way to determine the dominant eye is to ask the patient to look through a monocular handheld telescope without suggesting which eye to use. (I use a handheld 2.2x Galilean for BCVA of 20/100 and better, or a 4×12 Keplerian pre-focused for the chart distance for 20/125 and less.) They will usually bring it to their dominant reflexively.  And, since I already know which is the better seeing eye, I’m keeping my fingers crossed (behind my back) that they bring it to the better-seeing and hence dominant eye!

 If they ask which eye they should use, I suggest they bring it to whichever eye seems more natural.  On occasion, patients will show no ocular preference and can sight equally well with either eye, for which I send up a prayer of thanks, however this is less common.

When thinking about bioptic telescopes, if I have a dominancy conflict I will try to prescribe a binocular system in lower powers or if I need a monocular device, I would often prefer to prescribe a higher power to the dominant eye so long as I can get the acuity through telescope that I seek.  If I have to prescribe to the non-dominant eye, I might consider a sector occluder so when the patient dips their head to sight through the bioptic the fellow eye is covered.  However, even with occluders and/or lots of training I have usually found that these folks have a bit more of a challenge thriving with their bioptic and I will warn them about that right away.

Hope this little tidbit helps you as much as it has helped me.

Henry Greene to lead The Vision Council’s Low Vision Division

Ocutech co-founder and President, Henry Greene, OD, FAAO, has been elected in-coming chair of the Low Vision Division of The Vision Council (sponsor of Vision Expo East and West). His 2-year term begins in late January 2022. 

“I am honored to have been chosen to lead the Low Vision Division during what promises to be a very exciting time for the vision rehabilitation specialty.  I take over the reins from outgoing chair, Richard Tapping, who has lead the division during the many challenges posed by the COVID pandemic.”

As the first optometrist to take on this role, Dr. Greene plans to address issues that he feels will be helpful for all members of the low vision care community. 

One of the most common refrains that low vision providers hear is ‘How come no one has told me about low vision care until now?’

Addressing this lack of awareness will guide our efforts during Dr. Greene’s term in office.  Specifically the LVD goals will include:

  • Increasing awareness of low vision care on a national basis
  • Creating a national directory of low vision care providers
  • Improving and facilitating methods for the referral of patients for low vision care

To stay updated on the LVD initiatives and to express your potential interest to join a national directory of low vision care providers click here.

https://thevisioncouncil.org/members/low-vision-prescriber-network

“The Vision Council is thrilled to welcome Dr. Greene into the Chair role for the Low Vision Division. From fostering a high level of engagement between members and division leadership to raising awareness of low vision rehabilitation among eyecare providers as well as visually impaired consumers and their caregivers, Dr. Greene will play a key role in moving the division forward,” said Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council.