Low Vision and Visual Rehabilitation
Low vision, a collective term for vision loss that cannot be reversed by glasses, medication, or surgery, is one of the major areas of research and treatment at the Wilmer Eye Institute. The work has led to novel solutions for some patients. Those suffering from macular degeneration (a disease that destroys the center of the retina, the eye's light-sensitive tissue) and other vision problems receive detailed visual-function testing, evaluation and, whenever possible, rehabilitation.
Laser imaging and other sophisticated technology help the Low Vision staff determine the exact nature and extent of a patient's visual limitations. The findings, combined with in-depth evaluation of visual function, provide the basis for designing personalized rehabilitation plans.
Through the rehabilitation plan, the staff help patients learn to build compensatory visual skills, develop new ways to perform daily living activities, use low vision-aids and adjust psychologically to their circumstances. Hopkins Low Vision Center prescribes special devices, such as telescopes mounted on eyeglasses, magnifiers with built-in illumination and closed-circuit TV readers, and informs patients about other helpful products, from talking watches to radio-reading services. Wilmer faculty, in collaboration with NASA and the Department of Veterans' Affairs, have developed a powerful, portable vision enhancement device called LVES (Low Vision Enhancement System), a video visor tailored to each patient. The LVES has autofocus and zoom capability to magnify and clarify images. It can highlight low-contrast images such as faces, permitting wearers to recognize people more easily. The device displays images in front of the eyes at a size equivalent to watching a 60-inch television screen four feet away.
> Low Vision and Vision Rehabilitation Service
Already available by prescription, the LVES continues to be refined to improve its vision-enhancing capabilities. Through research under way, future improvements will allow the LVES to compensate for distortions caused by retinal degeneration. The LVES thus will restore much of the visual information lost through many vision impairments.