“It was a different life then”— says Bill McKenzie on his world without his Ocutech Bioptics

For Bill McKenzie, the old proverb “big things come in small packages” could not ring truer. It began when he received his first Ocutech bioptic telescope low vision aid. It was then that he could again enjoy the little things that he used to take for granted like watching TV or shopping— or the big things like watching his grandchildren play sports or just being able to see their eyes when he talked with them.

“My Ocutech bioptics reopened my life for me,” Bill reminisced. “Without them, I was hiding in my own little world where I didn’t say ‘hi’ to people because I couldn’t recognize them—I felt so unconnected… it was a difficult time in my life.”

In 1995, Bill was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration, a condition that reduces central vision making it difficult for him to read print, see TV and signs at a distance and recognize people’s faces. By 2014, he found that he couldn’t see well enough to drive anymore, use a tool in his shop, or read with pleasure the way he used to.

To help combat his reduced vision, he installed 28-inch monitors to his computers and bought a 65 inch TV. He would insure that he had magnifying glasses throughout the house and he even purchased a microscope to help him look at print material. “The bigger the better,” he said.

And, he finally realized the one important thing he was trying to avoid: he needed help. “I’ve always been a do-it-yourselfer. It was hard for me to accept!”

On his next visit to his retina eye doctor where he shared his frustrations for the first time, he was referred to a low vision specialist.  “They talked to me about what I wanted to be able to see and do. No one had asked me those types of questions before. Just, ‘how are you seeing today? Crummy I would reply!” It was at his low vision appointment where Bill expressed his frustration about not seeing well at a distance, that Bill was shown an Ocutech bioptic, special glasses with miniature telescopes mounted in the top. He was amazed that he could see so clearly again, but that was on the eyechart! He was eager to see if they would help in the real world.

Bill now owns two Ocutech bioptics–the SightScope and the Falcon. The SightScope, a Galilean telescope design for both eyes works just like a pair of binoculars. They make things twice as big, and they let him see twice as far away. And, they can be used up close with special extra reading caps that he can attach to the front.  But his Falcon, the world’s only autofocusing bioptic, gives him the most natural magnified vision because wherever he looks it’s clear immediately just like normal vision.  They’re much stronger power than his lower power SightScope and he can see even further away.  “The field of view is a little narrow like the mirrors in a car, he noted, and that took some getting used to, but once I did it they are a pleasure to use,” he said.

“Bioptic eyeglasses have added a new dimension to people with low vision,” Bill shared, “it’s a shame that so few people know about them. If it’s going to pick up groceries, visiting my five children or seeing my 12 grandchildren at their birthdays, BBQ’s— you name it— I now get to have those experiences back. The bioptics certainly bring things back to my life.”

And something he never expected, Bill is on the road again, driving his car, and appreciating not only his freedom and independence but also his physical and mental health. He takes the car to go to physical therapy (due to the knee replacement he recently had) as well as check-ups with his cardiologist. Beyond these appointments, Bill likes taking the time to drive and get his curbside grocery pickup or visit his family. “I’d go insane if I just had to sit inside all day,” he said.

Yet Bill’s greatest joy these days is getting to see his grandchild play soccer. He goes to the game a proud grandparent who can finally see the scoreboard and his grandchild run across the field. To be able to watch, see and experience the game like everyone else means everything to Bill.

“How do you explain it? When you have vision that deteriorates slowly, you slowly stop recognizing things, or faces of people who you always once saw,” Bill explained, reflecting. “And then suddenly, you have these lenses that can let you see like 20-50 feet away again… it’s surreal. Your world expands— and you get some important parts of your life back again.”

For more information about Ocutech bioptics, to determine whether you might be a promising candidate, or to request a referral to an Ocutech Low Vision prescriber visit www.ocutech.com. Complete the no obligation self-assessment questionnaire at https://ocutech.com/self-assessment-form/ to receive a reply from Ocutech’s experts about your specific vision options.

 

Approach patients with low vision on an individual basis (Featured in Optometry Times)

Low vision rehabilitation is a segment of optometry that lends itself to creativity in case management and approaches to help patients achieve their goals. As practitioners begin to establish a low vision practice, they will have the opportunity to provide value to their patients’ lives by developing solutions to achieve vocational, social, and daily living goals.
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Image of telescope and separation between rear lens and real image of object

Notes about Keplerian ‘expanded field’ telescopes.

An invited blog contribution by Alan Johnston, OD, FAAO

Dr. Alan Johnston is an Australian optometrist and a 1985 low vision diplomate of the American Academy of Optometry.  He practices in Melbourne, Australia.

Some optical facts:

Keplerian telescopes provide additional benefits for bioptic use over Galilean types.  Originally designed for astronomical use, Keplerians provide a wider field of view than Galileans of comparable magnification (Mx). 

Keplerian telescopes for astronomy provide a reversed and upside-down image, but for patients the image must be upright and translated left-to-right.  Image inversion/translation was achieved at first using Porro prisms, named after their Italian inventor.  Porro prism binoculars have the characteristic, dog-leg shape where the front lenses are more widely spaced than the lenses close to the eye.  A more compact prism design is the lightweight Pechan-Schmidt combination, known generally as roof prisms, which have become popular in higher quality binoculars.  Prisms offer the additional benefit of ‘folding’ the optical path hence shortening the physical length of the telescope.   

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