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What’s the Difference Between Low Vision and Blindness?

Whats the Difference Between Low Vision and Being Legally Blind 640×350

Low vision doesn’t mean blindness. It simply means that a portion of your vision is impaired, and you can continue to enjoy a high degree of independence thanks to low vision tools and devices.

What Is Low Vision?

People often confuse the terms ‘visual impairment,’ ‘low vision,’ or ‘blindness’. Below we’ll untangle that and bring some clarity to each term:

Visual impairment is a broad term that refers to any loss of vision. The following are some of the terms used to characterize different types of vision impairment:

  • Low vision is defined as fully corrected vision that is insufficient or interferes with your ability to do the things you want to be able to do. It has nothing to do with your visual acuity, field of view or other visual functions like dark adaptation or contrast sensitivity.
  • Legally blind refers to vision that is 20/200 or less in your better eye that cannot be corrected with standard glasses or contacts, or a visual field of 20 degrees or less. Certain conditions, like glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration can cause one to be legally blind.
  • Total blindness is defined as the complete lack of form and light perception that often results due to a genetic condition, disease, or injury.
  • Partial vision refers to the capacity to see only a portion of your visual field, or to have good central vision but poor peripheral vision. A brain tumor, brain injury, or an eye condition are the most common causes.

Does Low Vision Mean Blindness?

No. Vision loss that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or surgery is known as low vision. However, because some vision remains, it is not considered to be blindness. A person with low vision may have blurred vision, blind spots or have poor night vision.

Common Types of Low Vision

Loss of central vision

A blur or blind spot in the center of what you’re looking at occurs from a loss of central vision. This makes it difficult to read, recognize people and identify features at a distance. A person’s side (peripheral) vision is mostly unaffected by the loss of central vision.

As long as the person has adequate side vision, mobility is still possible.

Loss of peripheral (side) vision

Peripheral vision loss leaves a person with remaining central vision, allowing them to see straight ahead, read, watch TV and recognize faces. This is referred to as tunnel vision and can be caused by glaucoma, a brain tumor or injury.

Peripheral vision loss makes it difficult to differentiate objects on one or both sides, as well as items directly above and below eye level. Mobility is often hindered by a loss of peripheral vision.

Blurred vision

Blurred vision causes both near and far vision to be out of focus. When blurred vision is caused by refractive error, glasses, contact lenses and sometimes surgery can clear it up. However, certain conditions may cause blurred vision that cannot be corrected, such as macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetic edema.

Reduced contrast sensitivity

People with poor contrast sensitivity struggle to distinguish an object from other objects having the same background color/shade. For example, a person wearing gray clothing would be difficult to see on a cloudy day. Similarly, finding a blue wallet in a blue purse can be difficult for those with reduced contrast sensitivity. Others may find driving difficult even if their “acuity” is good because visual acuity is measured on high contrast charts. The most common eye diseases that cause contrast sensitivity loss include macular degeneration and cataracts.

Glare/light sensitivity

There are two types of glare: discomfort glare and disability glare.

Patients with discomfort glare tend to feel discomfort in the presence of sunlight, incandescent lights, fluorescent lights, and halogen lights, like those used in car headlights. Glare can emanate from many sources, such as reflection from water, fresh snow or white sand.

Those with disability glare cannot function in these lighting conditions, posing a danger of being in harm’s way.

Both types of glare can be helped by a Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care low vision eye doctor.

Night blindness

People with night blindness find it difficult to see outside at night or in dimly lit indoor settings.

How Low Vision Devices Can Help

People with low vision can often live and work independently thanks to a number of tools and devices that can greatly improve their quality of life.

Our low vision optometrist prescribes all types of low vision glasses and devices, such as:

  • bioptic and full diameter telescope glasses
  • microscope glasses
  • prism glasses
  • and filters of all types
  • as well as a wide range of low vision aids ranging from hand-held magnifiers to electronic visual aids.

Large-type books, magazines, and newspapers, as well as books on tape, talking wristwatches, self-threading needles and other products can also help those with low vision.

Live your best life by contacting Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care to book a low vision evaluation and to determine the optimal low vision devices for your needs and lifestyle.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. McDaniel

Q: What is a low vision evaluation?

  • A: A low vision evaluation includes components that are not usually part of a standard eye exam. Your vision will be evaluated to assess the nature and level of vision loss and how it’s affecting your ability to do the things you want to do. The evaluation will help determine which types of low vision glasses and devices to prescribe for improved function, safety and independence.

Q: What causes low vision?

  • A: Traumatic brain and eye injuries, as well as congenital conditions and issues of aging and uncorrected refractive errors, are all common causes of low vision. As you age, you’re more likely to develop various eye conditions, like cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes and age-related macular degeneration. When treated early, vision loss can be prevented or limited. However, left untreated, some of these conditions can eventually lead to severe vision loss or even total blindness.

Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care provides low vision management, aids and devices to patients from Mascoutah, Belleville, O'Fallon, and Edwardsville, Illinois and surrounding communities.

What’s Causing My Migraines?

What’s Causing My Migraines 640×350Chronic migraines are difficult to live with, especially when they get in the way of your productivity and enjoyment of life. But what many don’t know is that migraines can sometimes be linked to binocular vision dysfunction (BVD).

Below, we explore some common causes of migraines and how binocular vision dysfunction may play a role.

Migraines: Symptoms and Causes

A migraine is a neurological condition that can present with a host of symptoms, including:

  • Chronic and intense headaches, usually pulsing or throbbing
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating or chills
  • Blurred vision or temporary vision loss
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

The frequency and intensity of migraine symptoms vary from person to person, but the main symptom is usually intense pain in at least one part of the head. Some people have migraines with aura (sensory, motor and speech disturbances).

While the exact cause of migraines is unknown, there are several contributing factors. Some common causes and triggers of migraines include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • An imbalance in brain chemistry
  • Sensory stimuli, like flashes of light or strong odors
  • Certain medications
  • Certain foods
  • Stress
  • Excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Dehydration
  • Binocular vision dysfunction

What Is Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

Binocular vision dysfunction (BVD) is a horizontal or vertical misalignment of the eyes. This misalignment makes it difficult or even impossible for the eyes to work together as a team. When each eye sends a slightly different image to the brain, the brain and eyes struggle to unite them into one clear, unified image.

People with BVD may experience a wide range of physical, visual or emotional symptoms. Because BVD shares many symptoms with other conditions, it is often overlooked or mistaken for other causes.

The migraines, neck pain, dizziness, nausea and anxiety that many people with BVD experience can make it harder to carry out daily tasks like driving, reading and concentrating in school or at work.

How Can BVD Cause Migraines?

To compensate for the eyes’ incorrect positioning, the muscles in and around the eyes overexert themselves in order to reposition the eyes. In other words, the pain arising from a BVD-related migraine is caused by strained eye muscles.

This is why adults or children who experience migraines on a regular or occasional basis should have their vision thoroughly evaluated to rule out BVD.

How is BVD Treated?

Patients diagnosed with BVD typically experience massive relief when wearing prism glasses. These specialized glasses contain microprisms in the lenses that refocus light in a way that bypasses the eye’s misalignment. In many cases, patients experience immediate relief upon first wearing prism glasses.

Whether you’re living with migraines or experiencing other visual symptoms, a functional vision evaluation can diagnose underlying visual dysfunction and lead to appropriate treatment.

To schedule a functional visual evaluation for yourself or a loved one, call today!

serves patients from Mascoutah, Belleville, O'Fallon, and Edwardsville, Illinois and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. McDaniel

Q: What other conditions can be mistaken for BVD?

  • A: BVD may cause or contribute to symptoms that mimic conditions like anxiety, agoraphobia, ADHD, reading and learning disabilities, spinal or neck misalignment, chronic fatigue syndrome, temporomandibular joint disorders and Meniere’s disease. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, visit your optometrist to rule out BVD.

Q: How common is BVD?

  • A: BVD is thought to affect 1-8% of the population, although more research is needed in the field. Because BVD may be confused with other conditions, it makes accurate diagnosing more difficult.

Reading Tips For Those With Low Vision

Senior Woman Reading 640×350

For people with low vision, reading can feel like running a marathon. Many stop reading altogether because what used to be enjoyable and effortless now requires effort and adjustment to using peripheral vision.

Fortunately, there are many low vision devices that can make reading easier and more rewarding for people with glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration and other low vision conditions.

Below is a list of low vision magnifiers, aids, devices, and strategies that can help people with low vision read more easily and comfortably.

Low Vision Devices for Reading

Reading Magnifier

The most commonly used visual aid for reading is a hand-held magnifier.

Magnifiers with the appropriate power enable people with low vision to read the text of medicine bottles, food labels and oven dials, among other things. Magnifiers come in a variety of sizes and shapes, including compact pocket magnifiers, full-page illuminated magnifiers, and magnifiers with adjustable supports.

Magnifiers are not well suited for continuous reading, like books or newspapers. They work well for spot reading, like labels, dials and medicine bottles. In general, the larger the magnifier, the less powerful it is. Also, the power markings on the magnifier are not standardized, so two magnifiers both marked “3x” are probably not the same.

It is best to have your low vision optometrist recommend the right magnifier for your needs.

Video Magnifier

While traditional optical magnifiers are generally helpful, some people benefit more from a video magnifier.

A video magnifier, also known as closed-circuit television (CCTV), is a device that uses a camera to send magnified images (up to 50x or greater) to a large desk monitor or television screen.

Video magnifiers have many advantages over optical magnifiers in that they have variable magnification and can improve contrast. However, they are not as convenient as optical devices and are much more expensive.

Portable Electronic Magnifiers

A portable electronic magnifier resembles a tablet or iPad. When holding it in front of your reading material you can see the magnified version of the text on the device’s LED screen.

High-Power Reading Glasses

A person with significant visual impairment may be able to use strong magnifying reading glasses to view fine print. These eyeglasses magnify the print size to allow easier reading.

Strong reading glasses or “microscope” glasses are more convenient for continuous reading, like newspapers and books.

Microscope reading glasses require a closer reading distance which does take some adapting. However, they allow much greater comfort and speed when reading for enjoyment.

Tele-Microscopic Glasses

Tele-microscopic lenses are prescription lenses that are installed in a telescope-like device and placed on top of the glasses. They can be prescribed for one or both eyes and enable a person with low vision to read, write, use a computer, and accomplish other activities from a comfortable distance.

Certain low vision devices are custom-made for a patient’s specific needs. A prescription from your eye doctor may be required.

Tele-microscope glasses, or “reading telescopes” afford a much greater reading distance, which some find more comfortable. They are a bit heavier than microscope glasses but are much more versatile in their use.

More strategies to help your reading

Increase Contrast

When reading, it’s best to have a sharp contrast between the text and its background. Newspapers, for example, don’t have much contrast because the grey characters are set against an off-white background.

Many electronic screens allow users to adjust the contrast according to their preferences, such as black lettering on a yellow background or black lettering against a white background.

Increase Lighting

Increasing the amount of lighting and choosing the appropriate lighting for the setting can considerably improve reading ability and boost comfort. For example:

Direct light – Using an adjustable gooseneck lamp that allows you to focus the light directly onto the reading material can be helpful. We recommend “gooseneck” with lower strength bulbs for better lighting and less heat.

Sunlight – Sitting near a window to get natural sunlight while reading a book or other written text is ideal.

Large-Print Books or Larger Fonts

Large-print books include larger fonts, better contrast and more spacing, making it easier and more enjoyable to read.

Adjust Settings on Your Smartphone

Smartphones feature special settings for people with low vision. These features are wide-ranging and include the ability to select larger lettering to SMS messaging that the phone can read out loud.

Coping with low vision isn’t simple. However, developing your own life hacks and methods can make reading easier. Take your time to find what works best for you. Eventually, you’ll find the best solutions for your specific needs.

Contact Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care to find out which low vision aids and devices are right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. McDaniel

Q: What is a low vision exam?

  • A: A low vision exam includes components that are not usually part of a standard eye exam. Dr. Marianne McDaniel will analyze the nature of your vision loss after testing your visual acuity. This will aid the doctor in determining how low vision is affecting you and your ability to perform day-to-day activities. Dr. Marianne McDaniel will then describe how certain low vision glasses and various low vision aides can help you regain as much daily function as possible.

Q: Does low vision mean blindness?

  • A: No. Low vision is vision loss that can’t be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or surgery. However, it’s not considered blindness, as some sight remains. This allows a person to still use the sight available and benefit from various low vision devices.

Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care serves patients from Mascoutah, Belleville, O'Fallon, and Edwardsville, all throughout Illinois.


5 Adjustments To Make Around The House For People With Low Vision

senior couple at home 640×350

Home improvement can upgrade the look and feel of your living space. But for those with low vision, the right setup can be the difference between constantly relying on others and functioning independently.

At Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care, we understand the importance of feeling self-sufficient and continuing to do the things you love after vision loss. To that end, we’ve shared a few tips to help you adapt your home and help you live a higher quality of life.

1. Increase the Color Contrast

Make sure you strategically place bright contrasting colors around the house to help identify and locate items. For example, keep your phone, keys or wallet in a bright tray or dish so they’re easy to find.

Consider replacing cabinet and doorknobs with colors that stand out. For instance, choosing black knobs on white cabinets and doors will make it easier for you to find and grasp them. You can also add brightly colored tape to kitchen utensils and remote controls. We further recommend you place brightly colored non-slip tape or a contrasting or textured strip of flooring in front of a staircase to alert you to the stairs.

Contrasting colors are just as useful for preparing food and beverages. Pour dark liquids (like coffee or tea) into white mugs, and light liquids (like milk) into darker colored mugs. If your mugs blend in with the color of your countertops, consider purchasing new ones in a contrasting color.

2. Furnish Thoughtfully

People with low vision may struggle to maintain eye contact or recognize faces of those who are far away. For this reason, it’s worth moving sofas and armchairs close together.

Moreover, when choosing furniture, focus on differences in texture and size. It’s often easier for someone with low vision to identify a piece of furniture through touch rather than sight.

3. Bring in More Light

Think floor lamps, desk lamps, and sheer window curtains — anything that increases lighting will make it easier to read, cook, do crafts and other activities.

Desk lamps should be bright and be fitted with a lightbulb that’s at least 75w.

4. Use Technology

Consult with your low vision optometrist regarding which optimal low vision digital aids and devices you can use to help you read and identify household items with ease. Some options include closed caption television video magnifiers, handheld video magnifiers and wearable digital headsets.

5. Make Your Space Hazard-Free

Consider removing rugs or securing their edges to prevent accidental trips and falls, and ensure that all pathways are free of electrical cords and clutter.

If your home has a tiled floor, be sure there aren’t any loose, uneven or broken pieces that can easily be overlooked. Additionally, when washing your floors, opt for non-glare detergents that don’t leave a waxy finish.

Living with low vision can be difficult, but making your home more suited to your visual needs will make daily living easier.

Your low vision optometrist at Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care makes it a priority to provide personalized care and attention to ensure the best possible outcome. After thoroughly examining your eyes and assessing your degree of vision loss, Dr. Marianne McDaniel will recommend low vision aids and devices to help you maximize your vision and enjoy a better quality of life.

If you or a family member live with low vision or have been diagnosed with a sight-threatening eye condition, call Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care to schedule a low vision consultation today.

Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care serves patients from Mascoutah, Belleville, O'Fallon, and Edwardsville, Illinois and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. McDaniel

Q: What is low vision?

  • A: An individual is defined as having ‘low vision’ if their fully corrected vision is insufficient to do what you want to do. Fortunately, there’s hope for those with low vision. A low vision eye doctor can offer vision aids and devices to maximize remaining vision.

Q: What are low vision aids and devices?

  • A: Low vision aids are a combination of special lenses and devices that maximize any usable vision to help patients recognize faces, watch TV, read and carry out daily tasks. Common low vision aids include low vision glasses like microscopes, telescopes, filters and prisms. There are also electronic visual aids and optical magnifiers.


Is it a Learning Disability or is it BVD?

Is it a Learning Disability or is it BVD 640×350Parents and teachers have noticed that the number of children diagnosed with learning disabilities (LD) and behavioral problems seem to be growing. Many of these kids have trouble concentrating and struggle with reading and writing, to the point where they can become angry and easily frustrated.

While learning disabilities are a real concern, some children diagnosed with LDs actually have a binocular vision dysfunction (BVD), a condition that occurs when the eyes are misaligned. Being misdiagnosed means that they do not receive the treatment that would help them excel in school.

How BVD Symptoms Are Mistaken for Learning Disabilities

Binocular vision dysfunction has symptoms that are very similar to learning disabilities. Because of the substantial overlap between these two conditions, it’s difficult to distinguish between them without performing the appropriate tests for both learning disabilities and functional vision.

Teachers typically recommend that children who have problems reading and writing, or have trouble concentrating, get tested for learning disabilities and ADHD. It’s only due to lack of awareness that the teacher doesn’t refer them for a BVD evaluation.

Symptoms of Binocular Vision Dysfunction

Binocular Vision Dysfunction is the eyes’ inability to work together as a team due to the eyes’ physical misalignment.

When our eyes work in perfect harmony, the brain is able to integrate the two images sent by our eyes into a single, distinct image. When our eyes are even slightly misaligned, each eye sends the brain two slightly different images, which the brain has a hard time combining into a single clear image. This is known as BVD.

One common form of BVD is Vertical Heterophoria (VH). VH occurs when a subtle vertical eye misalignment is present. This means one eye is slightly higher than the other, causing the eye muscles to work hard to correct the misalignment. The muscles eventually become fatigued and overworked due to the constant eye strain. This vertical misalignment of the eyes can result in a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Irritability
  • Lightheadedness & dizziness
  • Migraines & headaches
  • Problems focusing
  • Reading difficulties
  • Vertigo
  • Anxiety

How to Treat BVD

The best way to treat BVD is by wearing aligning prismatic lenses. Neuro-optometrists prescribe these lenses to correct the eyes’ misalignment.

Aligning prismatic lenses modify incoming light before it reaches your eyes, allowing your brain to blend the images from both eyes into one image. Your brain is tricked by the prisms in the glasses into believing your eyes are perfectly aligned. This unified image minimizes BVD symptoms by preventing your eye muscles from straining to compensate for the misalignment.

Usually, patients find that their symptoms gradually subside or completely disappear once they begin wearing their prescribed prism lenses.

At , we care about your vision. If your child has been told they have a learning disability and you want to know whether BVD is at the root of their struggles, contact us to schedule an appointment today.

serves patients from Mascoutah, Belleville, O'Fallon, and Edwardsville, Illinois and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. McDaniel

Q: How does BVD affect reading?

  • A: Similar to ADHD or a learning disability, BVD can affect your reading. You may find your child rereading for comprehension or having difficulty concentrating, skipping lines or losing their place while reading. They may also find that the words run together while reading.

Q: How common is BVD in children with learning disabilities?

  • A: It’s estimated that up to 50% of children who have been diagnosed with dyslexia, ADD/ADHD and other conditions that impede learning and concentration may actually have BVD and not these conditions. In some cases, children have learning disabilities as well as BVD.

 

Living With Legal Blindness

Living With Legal Blindness 640

Being legally blind affects how you go about your daily tasks and how you navigate the world around you. Legal blindness is defined as having 20/200 vision or less. This means that an object that appears clear to a person with a perfect vision from 200 feet away, is only clear to a legally blind person at a maximum distance of 20 feet away.

Legal blindness is also defined as having a visual field of 20 degrees or less. Those with this type of vision have severe difficulties in mobility, yet see sharply with their central vision.

Depending on the underlying cause of your condition, you may experience a lack of color contrast, color distortions, loss of depth perception, difficulty with excessive glare, sensitivity to bright light or night blindness. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep doing the things you love, even with low vision.

Tips for Living With Vision Loss

Having low vision demands certain adjustments. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and be able to engage in the tasks you most enjoy.

Cooking Safety

Being unable to see a cutting surface or an oven rack can be dangerous, but there are several ways to adapt your cooking techniques.

  • To avoid burns from reaching into a hot oven, use an oven rack grabber or long oven mitts. You can also place tape over the knobs for the back burners to avoid using them altogether, then you don’t need to reach over a potentially hot flame.
  • Try to fry or grill foods with a small indoor air fryer or grill; it’s much safer than pan-frying on the stove.
  • Instead of using your stovetop or oven, use a slow cooker.
  • Use a pair of scissors instead of a knife to cut food and packaging.

Lighting

Ample lighting is crucial for people with significant vision loss. When lighting your home and work areas, remember to implement the following tips.

  • Keep all rooms evenly lit so that your eyes don’t have to adjust to changes in lighting when walking from one room to another.
  • Use compact fluorescent or LED bulbs instead of incandescent light bulbs. They’re more energy-efficient and produce a brighter light.
  • Depending on your lighting needs, use task lamps that you can move closer or farther away from your work.
  • When writing, avoid shadows by positioning your work lamp on the other side of your writing hand, with the paper sandwiched between your hand and the lamp.

Hobbies/Activities

Being legally blind doesn’t mean you have to give up on your favorite activities or hobbies. Here are a few tips to help those with low vision enjoy taking part in various activities and hobbies:

  • Enjoy playing cards or Bingo? Purchase large print or Braille cards.
  • Enjoy going to the movie theater? Ask whether they have an audio description service—headphones that play the sounds of the movie along with a narrator that describes the characters and scenes.
  • Sports lover? Listen to sporting events on the radio. Radio announcers provide a more detailed description of the game.
  • Enjoy arts and crafts? Use a tactile ruler or tape measure.
  • Like sewing? Anchor your sewing needles in a cork or bar of soap to thread them.

Computer Use

Nowadays, computers offer many features to enlarge text or add contrast for easier readability. In addition, you can also:

  • Purchase stickers to place over the keys on your existing keyboard
  • Use a large print or Braille keyboard.
  • Learn keyboard shortcut commands to help you rely less on the mouse pointer.
  • Use additional accessibility software, like speech-to-text software or a screen reading program.
  • Use a larger monitor.

While experiencing vision loss may at first seem like the end of the world, there are so many ways you can still live a full and productive life. People with low vision or partial vision can benefit from a variety of visual aids to maximize their remaining vision. Regardless of one’s degree of vision loss, a person can benefit from accessible smartphone apps, e-readers, and many other types of adaptive technology.

Contact Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care to learn more about low vision devices, eyewear and technologies that can help you live life to the fullest. Our low vision optometrist will work with you and prescribe the best devices to suit your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. McDaniel

Q: What is low vision?

  • A: An individual is defined as having ‘low vision’ if their fully corrected vision is insufficient to do what you want to do. Fortunately, there’s hope for those with low vision. A low vision eye doctor can offer vision aids and devices to maximize remaining vision.

Q: What are low vision aids and devices?

  • A: Low vision aids are a combination of special lenses and devices that maximize any usable vision to help patients recognize faces, watch TV, read and carry out daily tasks. Common low vision aids include low vision glasses like microscopes, telescopes, filters and prisms. There are also electronic visual aids and optical magnifiers.
  • Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care serves patients from Mascoutah, Belleville, O'Fallon, and Edwardsville, all throughout Illinois.


Why Do I Get Dizzy When Grocery Shopping?

Grocery Shopping 640Imagine you’re walking down a supermarket aisle when, all of a sudden, a dizzy spell hits. The room begins to spin, your vision blurs, and you can’t seem to orient yourself to your surroundings.

For people who suffer from dizziness, simple everyday activities like taking a walk, driving and shopping can feel like monumental tasks.

If you experience frequent dizzy spells and difficulty maintaining your balance, you may be suffering from binocular vision dysfunction (BVD), a condition caused by a misalignment of the eyes.

Schedule an appointment with to determine whether visual dysfunction is causing your symptoms.

What is Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD) is the eyes’ inability to work together as a team due to the eyes’ physical misalignment.

Ordinarily, an individual’s two eyes work as a team to move and focus, allowing clear and comfortable vision. If their eyes are misaligned, they cannot work together, so instead of the brain receiving one image, it receives 2 separate images. The brain struggles to combine these two distinct images and responds by trying to force the eyes to work together. This results in eye strain, fatigue, double vision and/or blurred vision, which can lead to dizziness and balance issues.

How Does BVD Affect Balance and Dizziness?

Binocular vision, or the ability of the eyes to work together to create a coherent and cohesive view of the world around you, is the most important visual skill for maintaining balance. Since the visual system aids in the regulation of the other systems involved in maintaining balance, any defect in the visual system will result in a balance disorder.

Treatment for BVD

If a visual dysfunction is detected, your neuro-optometrist will prescribe a neuro-optometric rehabilitation program to treat the visual components contributing to your balance disorder.

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy, a type of vision therapy, teaches both eyes to work together using a combination of approaches and techniques. It consists of individualized exercises that, when performed over time, help the patient regain balance by rehabilitating any visual and perceptual disorders. This effectively decreases or eliminates dizziness, vertigo, and loss of balance symptoms.

Your optometrist might also prescribe micro-prism lenses. These lenses correct the misalignment of the two eyes, relieving or reducing the symptoms of BVD.

The neuro-optometric rehabilitation program offered at addresses the underlying vision problem causing your dizziness and balance issues.

To schedule your appointment contact and begin your road to recovery today.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. McDaniel

 

Q: Why does binocular vision dysfunction often go undiagnosed?

  • A: Routine eye exams include assessments of visual acuity — whether a patient is nearsighted or farsighted, for example, but usually don’t assess how well your eyes work together as a team (binocular vision). Or, such exams may fail to detect subtle misalignments between the two eyes.

Q: What are common symptoms of BVD?

A: The most common BVD visual symptoms include:

  • Blurry or double vision
  • Difficulty with night vision
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty with close-up vision
  • Eye strain and sore eyes
  • Poor depth perception
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Light sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty with reflections or glare


How To Cope With Vision Loss

Smiling Optometrist low vision eye exam 640×350A wide range of factors can lead to vision loss and the speed at which your vision deteriorates. For certain patients, changes to vision can occur quickly, as a result of eye diseases like untreated retinal detachment, wet macular degeneration or eye trauma. In other cases, vision loss is often very gradual, developing over many years and even decades, as in the case of open-angle glaucoma and dry macular degeneration.

Adjusting to visual impairment takes time and patience—but you don’t have to go through it alone. We can help. Below, we offer some tips to help you or a loved one with any degree of vision loss live a more fulfilling, independent and enjoyable life.

 

1. Visit a Low Vision Optometrist

Low vision optometrists are experienced in working with people who have low vision. They offer a low vision evaluation to determine how much vision you have and assess which tasks are giving you trouble. They will then prescribe low vision glasses and devices to allow you to do what you want to do.

2. Give your eyes a break

Eye fatigue is a very real and common side effect of vision loss. Many sight-threatening eye diseases cause symptoms like reduced color contrast, color and shape distortion, and light and glare sensitivity, among others.

All of these symptoms put a great deal of stress on the visual system since your brain works overtime to try and make sense of the distorted images your eyes are sending.

Make sure that your eyes are getting the rest they need by closing them for a few minutes at a time throughout your day, especially during visually taxing activities. Many patients also find it helpful to take power naps when possible.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Although it may be hard at first, asking for help from family, friends and even strangers may be necessary at any stage of vision loss.

We understand that asking for assistance may feel uncomfortable, but truth is—most people are happy to offer a helping hand.

4. Try slowing down

Moving at the same pace you once did can be dangerous after vision loss sets in. Give yourself the extra time you need to complete tasks, both routine and unfamiliar ones.

For example, if you’ve dropped an object, bend down slowly and cautiously to avoid accidentally bumping your head into something along the way.

5. Keep things [organized]

If it feels like you’re spending too much time trying to locate objects around the house, you may need a better organization system.

Keeping things in a set place will save time and energy. It also fosters independence and [minimizes] daily stress.

Using bold-colored labels, puffy paint, stickers, pins, and filing systems can all help keep objects neat and easily accessible.

Customize your [organizational] system to suit your needs — and stick to it. It will take some getting used to at first, but will ultimately be worth the effort.

6. Start relying on your other senses

Using your other senses like touch and hearing can be incredibly helpful when trying to get things done.

Using your hearing to detect an oncoming vehicle at a crosswalk will help you better navigate the road. Or using your hands to scan a surface when looking for your phone or keys can be more effective than trying to spot them visually.

Whether you’ve been living with low vision for a while or have received a recent diagnosis, we can help. At Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care, we understand the challenges that accompany low vision and make it our mission to improve the lives of our patients so they can live a more independent life.

If you or a loved one has experienced any degree of vision loss, call Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care today to schedule your low vision consultation.

Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care serves patients from Mascoutah, Belleville, O'Fallon, Edwardsville, and throughout Illinois.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. McDaniel

Q: #1: What is low vision?

  • A: People with low vision can achieve no better than 20/70 vision, even with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Low vision is typically caused by eye injuries and eye diseases, among other factors.

Q: #2: What are low vision aids and devices?

  • A: Low vision aids are a combination of special lenses and devices that maximize any usable vision to help patients read, recognize faces, watch TV, and carry out daily tasks. Common low vision aids include low vision glasses like telescopes, microscopes, prisms, filters, electronic visual aids and optical magnifiers. Your low vision eye doctor will work with you to prescribe the most effective devices for your needs.


Why Do Seniors Often Overestimate How Well They Can See?

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Many eye conditions and diseases often creep up slowly, with no discernible symptoms in their early stages. That’s why many people with sight-threatening eye diseases are completely unaware of their condition until they reach irreversible vision loss. This is especially true of those 60 years and older, known to be at higher risk for developing these conditions.

A Swedish study that included 1,200 seventy-year-olds, 6 out of 10 didn’t realize that their vision was subpar. Nor did they know that there were ways to maximize their remaining vision with certain glasses or a stronger lens prescription.

The study concluded that many seniors tend to believe that their eye health is better than it actually is, largely because (as mentioned above) the symptoms of eye disease often go unnoticed until its more advanced stages.

Conditions That Slowly Impair Vision

Below are some common causes of vision impairment that don’t always show the warning signs early on. If you or a loved one has any of the following symptoms, contact Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care to promptly schedule an eye exam.

Cataracts

When the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy, it’s likely due to cataracts—a natural part of the aging process. The majority of cataract cases occur in people over the age of 50. Depending on the location and severity of the cataract, it can interfere with vision and may need to be surgically removed.

Cataract symptoms include:

  • Blurry or dim vision
  • Faded colors
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Frequent changes in lens prescription
  • Sensitivity to light

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is an eye disease that affects the macula (the central portion of the retina), causing central vision loss. A healthy macula enables us to read, watch TV, recognize faces and see fine details.

Symptoms of AMD include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Seeing straight lines as distorted or wavy
  • Difficulty reading
  • Oversensitivity to glare
  • Needing bright light to perform close work

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. It typically affects both eyes and can lead to peripheral vision loss, known as ‘Tunnel Vision.’ Left untreated, glaucoma can eventually cause total blindness.

The early stages of glaucoma do not have any obvious signs, which is why frequent eye exams are essential. Symptoms of middle-to-late stage glaucoma include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain
  • Red eyes
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Reduced peripheral vision
  • Seeing rings around lights
  • Sensitivity to light

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR)

DR is a complication of type 1 and 2 diabetes that damages the blood vessels in the retina. The longer a person has diabetes, the higher their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Controlling your blood sugar helps minimize eye damage.

Symptoms of DR include:

  • Deteriorating vision
  • Impaired color vision
  • Dark areas in your visual field
  • Blurred vision
  • Sudden increase in floaters

How Our Low Vision Optometrist Can Help

Here’s the bottom line: many eye diseases develop gradually, waving no red flags until the eye is irreversibly damaged. That’s why comprehensive annual eye exams are so crucial for those 60 years and up, even if they believe their eyes to be in perfect health.

We at Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care use the latest diagnostic technology to ensure the most accurate examination and diagnosis. If any signs of eye disease are detected, please don’t lose hope. We can help.

Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care offers a variety of low vision aids and devices that help maximize your vision, so that you can continue living your life to the fullest.

Vision impairment shouldn’t have to stop you from doing the things you love. To schedule your low vision consultation, call us today.

Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care serves patients from Mascoutah, Belleville, O'Fallon, and Edwardsville, all throughout Illinois.

Q&A

Q: #1: What are low vision aids?

  • A: They are a combination of special lenses and devices that maximize any usable vision in order to help those with reduced vision read, watch TV, recognize faces, and carry out daily tasks. These include low vision glasses, like telescopes, microscopes, prisms, and filters. Other visual help includes electronic visual aids and optical magnifiers. Your low vision optometrist will work with you and prescribe the best devices for you.

Q: #2: What can cause low vision?

  • A: People with low vision have visual impairments that cannot be successfully corrected using traditional eye correction methods, like surgery, standard glasses and contact lenses. Low vision can be caused by an eye injury, eye diseases like macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, aging, certain accidents, among other factors.


How High Tech Helps Those With Low Vision

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We’ve come a long way since 1270, when Marco Polo discovered elderly Chinese people using magnifying glasses to read.

Technology for people with low vision has changed dramatically—even in the last few years! Today, people with low vision have unprecedented access to cutting-edge medical procedures as well as a wide range of low vision devices and aids, including high-tech headsets and mobile phone apps that help them to read, navigate the world around them, and recognize faces.

If you or someone you love is living with low vision, contact Dr. Marianne McDaniel to discover which low vision devices or low vision glasses will help you live more independently.

Low Vision Electronic Devices

There are a number of low-vision devices and low vision glasses that may help you make the most of your remaining vision.

Macular degeneration causes people to lose central vision when the center of the eye’s retina (the macula) degenerates with age. While macular degeneration is considered incurable, a system using VR goggles and software to magnify the field of vision are sometimes the best way to help those with macular degeneration maximize the use of their remaining vision.

This headset system can help restore the user’s ability to watch TV, read, and do other everyday activities.

Other new assistive technologies include video magnifiers, desktop closed-circuit TV (CCTV) systems, and screen readers. These all allow people to have an up-close view of screens that their vision cannot provide, allowing them to see images and texts more clearly.

Low Vision Apps

Tablets and smartphones now have built-in capabilities for people with low vision, such as:

  • High-definition screens that improve visual clarity
  • Camera lenses that capture and magnify images
  • Speakers that convey directions and words
  • Microprocessors for assistive mobile applications
  • GPS receivers for location-awareness and navigation

Moreover, artificial intelligence can now vocalize written words and sentences so that you understand what you’re seeing—no matter how limited your vision may be.

Low-Vision Assistant Options Keep Growing

There are countless new technologies that can help people live better lives with low vision. However, determining which assistive technologies can best address your needs may feel overwhelming. Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care will be happy to help by matching you with the latest and more suitable low vision device so you can live your best life.

Low Vision Center At Mascoutah Eye Care serves patients from Mascoutah, Belleville, O'Fallon, and Edwardsville, all throughout Illinois.

Frequently Asked Questions with low vision specialist in Mascoutah:

Q: What is low vision?

  • A: Low vision is when a person loses sight that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Low vision can include poor night vision, blurry vision, and blind spots.

Q: Are there other types of low vision aids?

  • A: here are now many low vision aids that can successfully provide improvement in vision and quality of life. Popular low vision devices include:- Magnifying glasses
    – Telescopic glasses
    – Reading prisms
    – Hand magnifiers
    – Lenses that filter light