“Now we know he’ll be OK on his own”— How the parents of a nine year old with vision loss were able to breathe easier again.

For the longest time, Julie and Jesse Hoskins did not think anything was amiss with their son, Lane, as he grew up in their loving home in Ewing, Virginia. Lane would go to school, see his friends and play video games like all the other kids. He could even go hunting without any issues.

It was when Lane was about seven years old that he began to show signs of blurry vision–, needing to sit very close to their large screen TV and complaining that he couldn’t see his schoolwork. Naturally, Julie took Lane to get glasses— but even with the glasses he was hardly seeing any better. Two prescriptions later, Julie and Jesse, at a loss, were referred to Dr. Sean Wadley, an ophthalmologist, in Knoxville, Tennessee, who diagnosed Lane with Stargardt’s disease, a rare genetic eye disease that prevents the retinas from providing sharp, central vision. It’s like macular degeneration for kids. By this point, even with his best eyeglasses, Lane only had 20/200 vision in his left eye and 20/400 in the right.

“His diagnosis of permanently reduced vision was very emotional for us as a family because our immediate thought was– how will he be able to live a full life or even drive someday?” Julie shared, candidly. “We didn’t know whether he would ever be able to have the independence an adult would expect to have.”

The Hoskins decided to enroll Lane in a private school so his teachers could better support his special visual needs. The teachers would print out his worksheets in a large font and Lane was provided magnifiers for his books and special software to enlarge the print on his computer screen.

One day, Lane’s grandparents when talking to their next door neighbor, found that he also happened to have Stargardt’s disease. The neighbor told them about his Ocutech bioptic telescope glasses that he had found so helpful. And he offered to let Lane try them on. Within seconds, Lane could read letters and numbers and see colors that he hadn’t seen in a long, long time. Julie spoke with Dr. Wadley, who immediately referred the Hoskins to Dr. David Armstrong, an optometrist who’s an expert in low vision care, so that Lane could be evaluated for Ocutech bioptics.

“As soon as Lane put on the Ocutech bioptics, his face lit up! He started giggling and laughing and looking at our faces and it hit me, that he hadn’t seen our faces clearly in who knows how long!” Julie recalled. “Dr. Armstrong even took him outside– without the new lenses, Lane said signs were just colors with white spots. But when he put the Ocutech glasses on, and Dr. Armstrong asked him what he could see now… Lane excitedly shouted, ‘It’s an exit sign!”

Dr. Armstrong was optimistic for Lane and the future that a bioptic could now pave for him. In a YouTube video where he shares Lane’s story, Dr. Armstrong explained that with his regular prescription glasses, Lane’s was almost legally blind. Today with his Ocutech bioptic, Lane is seeing 20/50— “a big improvement, and good enough to see just about everything.” Dr. Armstrong prescribed Lane the VES® Sport-II. He explained that Ocutech bioptics are available in a range of designs and powers, so that the low vision specialist can prescribe the one that’s most appropriate for the individual’s level of vision, which can vary greatly between individuals. There is no one Ocutech version that’s right for everyone.

With his new bioptic low vision aid, Lane, who is now nine years old, has returned to public school. Even just a few days into the school year, his mom was seeing a vast improvement in what he can do and how he feels, and she is so thankful for the opportunities that have now opened up for him.

“His being able to see the board again and his excitement to show off his bioptics and do his schoolwork like his friends— it means everything to me,” Julie explained. “The fact he was so young when he first started having trouble, it was hard to help because kids don’t know when something is wrong with their eyesight.”

Lane is excited to being back in public school, getting to see his friends’ and teachers’ faces, and feeling connected to everything. He loves that with his bioptic, he can watch movies like Fast and the Furious and play Call of Duty and see it all clearly. He can hunt again and go to the beach with his family and see the waves. For his parents, his laughs and giggles every time he sees something he hasn’t seen for so long melts their hearts.

“Before we found Ocutech, it was so depressing to worry about Lane, his independence and his future. Now, we know he’ll be OK on his own— something all parents want,” Julie summarized, passionately. “We’re just thankful to Ocutech for creating these aids that have been so helpful for our son.”

Ask your low vision specialist if an Ocutech bioptic might be right for you. For more information about Ocutech bioptics or for a referral to a low vision specialist visit www.ocutech.com. Complete the self-assessment form at https://ocutech.com/self-assessment-form/ to receive a reply from Ocutech’s experts about your special situation.

Adventure Awaits: How a Paraglider Proved the Sky’s His Limit

Despite his low vision—the sky is his limit.

It’s another beautiful weekend in Central Texas for paramotoring enthusiast, Cody Smith. With the wind and the sun on his face he feels like he can do anything— and he can! Powered paramotoring is paragliding with a motor and a propeller which gives him enough thrust to take off on his own.

And it all comes down to this: Cody’s love for the sport embodies his own personal values for life: passion, opportunity, and adventure.

Cody explains that powered paragliding combines the easy flying characteristics of a paraglider with the autonomy and range of powered flight.  Wearing his motor and propeller in a backpack he says all you have to do is “buckle up, start the engine, and run like the wind while gunning the throttle until your feet leave the ground and off you go!,” he shared, passionately. Just like his life.

And just like paragliding, his life has also had its ups and downs. Cody, who is an Operations manager for the Texas State Auditors by day, was born with a congenital eye condition called coloboma, where the eyes do not develop normally, which left him legally blind.

In order to navigate his life of very reduced vision, Cody went through grade school, middle school and high school using a strong magnifying glass to read and an 8x monocular telescope to see at a distance. Like most individuals with low vision, he struggled in school as well as in socializing— making friends and enjoying his life to its fullest were both a constant challenge.

Cody explained, “I attended the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired from sixth through tenth grade because my local school district did not have the resources to really help me . I returned to my regular school for my 11th and 12th grade years and I became an honors student in both art and physical science.”

Cody shares great memories of his late father, Gary Perrenot, who spent hours reading to him and helping him with his math assignments.  His father was a an enormous help as he was a computer engineer for the US Navy in the 70s and later for the Texas Department of Transportation.  For Cody, his father’s passing in 2012 was another tremendous, personal loss.

“When I reached high school, like most teenage boys, I dreamed of driving,” Cody recalled. “And so a big moment for me was figuring out how, with my reduced vision, I might find a way for me to drive.”

It was 1997, when Cody turned 18 that he went to see Dr. Kathleen Fraser-Freeman at the San Antonio Low Vision Clinic. It was at that visit that his life began an exciting new chapter. After special testing he was prescribed an eyeglass telescope called an Ocutech bioptic. Cody remembers his first pair from over 25 years ago. They were a little heavy and awkward, and he did get a lot of looks and stares— but he didn’t care! He could see!

“I could now see and do things I couldn’t ever do before. And, I was able to get my special driver’s license and that’s all that really mattered to me then,” he smiled. “The Ocutech bioptics have literally changed my life,” he said.

Since receiving his first pair in 1997, bioptic technology has continued to progress and he now uses a newer Ocutech design that’s lighter and more comfortable to wear. Cody wears his bioptics everywhere and since they are focusable he uses them for reading, working in the office, in meetings with colleagues, for driving and, yes, for paramotoring where he is navigating and seeing the beautiful sights from on high all on his own.

From driving to flying, Cody has proven that the sky is the limit.

While living with a disability can break the spirit of even the strongest of people, Cody has never stopped believing that he was meant to achieve great things. Cody has worked hard every day to be able to achieve his dreams— to fly and soar and glide— and, much to the point, he has flown as high as 6,283 feet so he can visibly see his own success!

“My bioptics have really helped me do everything I could have hoped for— especially with my love of paramotoring,” Cody shared. “Those that love the wind in their face and finding these new freedoms soon discover that flying their paramotor can become their passion.”

On the weekends you can find Cody hanging out at the Lone Star Paramotors in Gardenridge, TX. He has completed 96 flights in the last year alone; his incredible journey and his passion for adventure can teach us all a lot about smiling in the face of life’s challenges.

“Like many of us, I have had my fair share of struggles both in school and in life, but I always knew I could do better and progress and thrive,” he said, passionately. “[Bottom line is]… some of us are born with visual impairments and we simply cannot let that get to us.”

Ask your low vision specialist if an Ocutech bioptic might be right for you.  For more information about Ocutech bioptics or for a referral to a low vision specialist visit www.ocutech.com. Complete the self-assessment form at https://ocutech.com/self-assessment-form/ to receive a reply from Ocutech’s experts about your special situation.

 

 

“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.

 

South African Author Finds Visual and Emotional Refuge with Ocutech Bioptics

When Terry-Ann Adams first sat down to write her debut novel, Those Who Live In Cages, she herself was still fighting to get out of some of her own. 

Terry-Ann is no stranger to grit, resilience and bravery; growing up with albinism in South Africa, she is the first to know what it feels like to be an outsider in your home. Moreover, her albinism diagnosis meant that she would grow up with a visual impairment from day one, having to wear goggles to shield her sensitive eyes from the bright sun.

And even though Terry-Ann was visually impaired, she could ‘feel’ the eyes of judgment upon her. She could sense the looks of strangers boring into her back and she wanted nothing more than to break free and feel beautiful in her skin. “It is difficult and frustrating living with a vision impairment,” she said, openly. “To those who don’t share the experience, please try to understand that our eyesight is so precious, so please do not patronize us.” 

Terry-Ann comes from a family of storytellers. A writer at heart, she decided to focus her energy on her career and family. Whether it’s hiking with her husband and son or publishing her impactful book about five women of color who uphold the bonds of friendship and identity— all while persevering against domestic violence, coming of age, ingrained patriarchy and migration— Terry-Ann uses her voice to give a voice to others. The novel is set in Eldorado Park in the south of Johannesburg, the town right outside where she lives in Krugersdorp, South Africa. 

 

Seeing and doing things never thought were possible.

“I believe in creativity as a force that drives me,” Terry-Ann shared of her writing process. “I am empathetic and believe that everyone should be treated fairly and because I didn’t grow up well off, I had to focus on my ambitions rather than my eyesight.”

But that all changed when Terry-Ann put on a pair of bioptics made by Ocutech. Bioptics are miniature telescopes that are attached to regular eyeglasses and just like binoculars, they make images larger and as a result easier to see. Ocutech bioptics enable the user to see much farther away, something Terry-Ann never thought she’d be able to do. 

Ocutech bioptics gave Terry-Ann the independence she never thought she’d have: the opportunity to drive.

“There are so many challenges I’ve had to face before using Ocutech, but not being able to drive was my biggest one,” Terry-Ann admitted, honestly. “I have had to accept that I will have to use our terrible public transport system.” 

Now, after using backabuddy, the author doesn’t have to imagine a world where she’s behind the wheel—she can actually do it! A world where she is able to read her own novel like every other bookworm and see her son and husband from across the room.

When it comes to Ocutech, Terry-Ann is extremely grateful for their quite literal visionary thinking. 

“My bioptic has been by far the most effective visual aid I have ever used,” Terry-Ann said, passionately. “It has truly helped me to see the world with different eyes.”

 

Many thanks to Terry-Ann’s Low Vision Specialist and Provider is Hazel Sacharowitz,, Low Vision Care Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

 

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.

“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.

When should I be considering an Ocutech Bioptic for my patient?

I’m frequently asked what makes me consider a bioptic for an individual patient. So, I’ve written a short blog post to describe my approach. There are several factors to explore when considering the appropriateness of an Ocutech bioptic for an individual. Here’s a list of factors you may choose to consider.

1. Vision

a. BCVA in the better-seeing eye (hopefully the dominant eye) is 20/300 or better

b. Field of view of at least 40 degrees diameter with regular glasses if used

c. Absence of hemianopsia

2. The prospective patient seeks to improve their distance and/or midrange vision for activities that might include:

a. Independent travel

b. Classroom

c. Signage

d. Shopping

e. Social engagement

f. Table/desk activities

g. Computer screens

h. Driving

i. Music

j. Theater/movies

k. Museums/galleries

l. Hiking

m. Gardening

3. They have promising manual dexterity and cognitive status

4. They have a need for hands-free visual support

5. Focusing options are based upon working distance considerations

a. Fixed focus (perhaps with reading caps) or Manual focus if their needs are at fixed distances  with minimal need to refocus the device

b. Autofocusing bioptic if they have a range of varying and continuous working distances

Meet Aaron Paulk, a visually impaired competitive surfer.

His Ocutech bioptic low vision aid helped make it happen!

“My first dream as a kid was to be a US Navy Seal.” Says Aaron Paulk. “I enlisted in the Navy halfway through my senior year in high school in Indiana. Things were going along fine until my physical in boot camp found that I was losing vision due to a juvenile type of macular degeneration called Stargardt’s disease. That totally derailed all my plans as I was no longer eligible to join the navy or any service. I lost my dream, my vision, and my motivation at age 17 all at once. It was one of my hardest periods emotionally.”

“I lost my license and my independence,” he says. “And then I found Dr. Laura Windsor, my low vision specialist. She prescribed an Ocutech bioptic telescope—a miniature telescope built into eyeglasses that provide me with near-normal vision–and my life changed forever. It allowed me to follow my second dream, to be a surfer living in Hawaii, and I just placed third in the 2021 World Parasurfing Championships held in California December 7-11.

“Gosh where do I start with how my Ocutech bioptic has changed my life?” he says.  “I have been able to regain my independence and drive, which has helped me train harder and harder to now be one of the best visually impaired competitive surfers in the world.  Before Ocutech I couldn’t even see the surf in the ocean before I got in, but now I can check the surf and watch it through my Ocutech and get an idea of how the waves are breaking.  I wear my Ocutech at all competition events to have the ability to watch the competition and prepare for my heats.” 

Aaron wants to share his enthusiasm for using his bioptic with others. “The impact of my Ocutech has been so dramatic for me,” he says, “and I’m eager to do what I can to help inspire other people with visual impairments to adopt such great technology to help them follow their passions and achieve their dreams.”