Visual Sense Eye Care
385 Fairway Road South Unit 202 Kitchener ON N2C 2N9 519.208.2040

Low Vision – Improving Lives

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What Is Low Vision?

Low vision is a significant visual impairment that a person can be born with, or it can result from a serious eye disease or injury. The vision loss is characterized by one or all of the following:

  • A reduced visual acuity (to 20/70 or worse in the better eye)
  • Hazy or blurred vision
  • Blind spots and/or a significantly reduced field of view
  • Tunnel vision

With low vision, these symptoms can’t be fully corrected with glasses, contact lenses, medication, or eye surgery. Sometimes, the extent of vision loss is considered to be legal blindness (20/200 or less visual acuity in the better eye) or almost total blindness.

If your best corrected visual acuity or reduced visual field interferes with your daily living activities, you may benefit from a low vision evaluation.

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What Causes Low Vision?

Many people believe that only seniors have low vision, but this isn’t the case. People of any age can have low vision. Many eye diseases do occur later in life, but children can also be born with certain eye diseases that result in low vision. When children show signs of low vision, it’s important to intervene quickly, as their eyes and visual system are still developing.

Leading causes of low vision, especially in seniors, are eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, or retinitis pigmentosa. Other common causes that can present at any age are hereditary conditions, eye injury, acquired traumatic brain injuries, and strokes.

How Does Low Vision Affect Daily Life?

Low vision affects every person differently. Fluctuating visual abilities can be confusing for a person to navigate and may be difficult for family and friends to understand. Fluctuations can happen for a variety of reasons, including fatigue, lighting conditions, and the disease itself.

With low vision, daily tasks can become challenging. This condition can cause people to have difficulty with:

  • Reading and writing
  • Watching television
  • Recognizing faces
  • Preparing meals
  • Personal grooming
  • Doing housework
  • Performing work-related tasks
  • Walking across the street

Due to these challenges, people with low vision often give up on favourite activities or hobbies.

Children with low vision may require counselling and support to understand and accept their visual condition and its implications. Your low vision care team can help guide your search for special instruction and assistance for school-related activities and certain social skills.

It is a huge adjustment to learn how to function with a visual impairment. The good news is, there are many resources and products available to assist with daily living tasks. Your low vision examination can provide you with valuable tools and resources suited to your visual needs.

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What Is a Low Vision Exam?

The first step to a low vision examination is to visit your optometrist for a regular comprehensive eye exam to monitor your eyesight and determine the cause of vision loss. After the comprehensive eye exam, the next step is a 2-part low vision assessment, which can be scheduled with us at Visual Sense Eye Care.

You will need a minimum of 2 hours for your low vision assessment.

During this exam, we use specialized charts and tools to determine your remaining functional vision. This includes determining your preferred print size, the magnification or minification needed, and the impact of illumination and contrast sensitivity.

This exam includes evaluating how well your vision functions in real-life situations, such as reading important information, watching TV, viewing things at a distance, and navigating unfamiliar environments. We’ll determine if there are any blind spots or distorted or blurry areas in your visual field, along with evaluating your colour vision.

After we have examined your visual function, we can prescribe low vision devices to promote maximum independence and safety. We’ll consider your degree of visual impairment and your daily activities to prescribe tools that can improve your quality of life. During this portion, we’ll demonstrate how to use them and answer any questions you may have.

Low Vision Devices & How They Can Help

There is a wide range of low vision aids available to help improve your quality of life and independence. These devices can assist with near vision tasks as well as distance vision. Common visual aids that can be incorporated into daily life range from magnifying glasses and video magnifiers to telescopes, tinted lenses, and more.

  • Handheld Magnifiers
    • Easy to use and portable
    • Among the most affordable low vision devices
    • Provide viewing without shadows or distortions
    • Shaped to allow maximum light to enter the magnifier
  • Illuminated Handheld Magnifiers
    • Provide magnification with illumination, allowing for higher contrast
    • Perfect for near tasks
    • Ideal for in-home uses such as looking up phone numbers, setting the thermostat, or reading the prescription on a medicine bottle
  • Stand Magnifiers
    • Combine the benefits of illumination and magnification
    • Enhance the contrast of the object being viewed
    • Ideal for reading and enjoying hobbies like crossword puzzles
    • Mounted on legs that fix the distance from the lens to the object being viewed
    • Easier to manipulate for patients who have difficulty with hand movements
    • Lightweight and portable
  • Around the Neck Magnifiers
    • Perfect for hands-free extended viewing
    • Lightweight with a grip to hold magnifier in most comfortable position for the viewer
    • Ideal for needlework and hobbies
  • Specialized inconspicuous high-power reading glasses allow the wearer to hold objects close, especially for extended reading
  • Available in single-vision designs or as bifocals
  • Allows user to have their hands free
  • May take some getting used to, as your face is positioned closer to reading material
  • Low vision devices often mounted on the lenses of eyeglasses
  • Provide high magnification while allowing the wearer to view reading material from a normal distance
  • Some training is needed to use these devices properly
  • Handheld versions also available
  • Portable Handheld, Desktop, or Head Borne Options
    • Magnifies an object for viewing through the use of a camera that projects an enlarged image of an object onto a screen or monitor
    • Provide the highest levels of magnification available
    • Only devices that allow the user to alter the image of the object being viewed
    • Magnification can be adjusted to suit individual visual needs
    • Photo freeze frame button allows an image to be captured and saved
    • Perfect for reading a newspaper, book, or magazine, writing notes, letters, and lists, and reading recipes or handwriting
    • Useful in the classroom or office
  • Monocular handheld telescope
    • Small telescope used with one eye only
    • Can be stored in a pocket or purse
    • Can focus from intermediate distances to infinity
    • Excellent for spot-viewing distant objects, like menus or street signs
    • Relatively inconspicuous
  • Provide a wider field of view
  • Easier to manipulate and focus
  • Custom-mounted telescope that allows for 2 lines of sight, 1 through the telescope and the other through the carrier lens
  • View 2 different distances with 2 different magnifications
  • Can be prescribed for hands-free distant spotting
  • Can also be prescribed for hands-free use during near work
  • Provide much more protection from the sun than ordinary sunglasses because of the protective top and side shield design
  • Array of colours provide many relaxing and enhancing options to meet your specific needs:
    • Decrease of light transmission
    • Brighten environment
    • Reduced glare
    • Improve contrast sensitivity
    • Enhance depth perception
    • Decrease blue light transmission
  • Available in fit-over designs or incorporated into custom prescription glasses
  • Closed Circuit Televisions
    • Electronically enlarge print, pictures, and objects
    • Consists of a camera, lenses, and a monitor
    • Adjustments can be made in size, brightness, colour, contrast, and other characteristics of print
    • Generally sit on desks (some portable models available)
  • Computer software programs for accessibility
    • Text to voice
    • Enlarged print
    • High contrast
    • Colour inversions and/or adjustments
    • Adjustments to pointer size and style
    • Magnifier and screen zoom

Get Advice from Your Low Vision Team

Some low vision devices for reading require a prescription from an optometrist because they’re custom-made for your specific visual needs. Your low vision team is trained to assess which low vision devices will work best for you based on your daily activities and your specific visual requirements. Consult with your team before purchasing non-prescription devices.

Your low vision team will teach you how to use visual aids and help you incorporate them into your daily life. Your team may also recommend non-optical adaptive devices, including:

  • Large-text printed material
  • Audio recordings
  • Special light fixtures
  • Signature guides for signing checks and documents

We are happy to provide recommendations to help make your life easier! Please give us a call if you have any questions.

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Is There Help Available for Funding?

The Assistive Devices Program (ADP) is a provincial government program that assists with funding for certain low vision devices.

If you qualify, ADP will pay 75% up to a maximum amount, depending on the device. Through ADP, patients are eligible for up to 3 optical aids over 5 years.

To receive assistance through ADP, the patient must have a registered ADP Authorizer to authorize the device and a registered ADP Vendor to supply the device. ADP-funded devices must be purchased in Ontario. Visual Sense Eye Care is an ADP-registered Vendor, and Dr. Tanya Polonenko is an ADP-registered Authorizer.

Your Visual Sense Eye Care team would be pleased to provide you with more information about this program and determine whether you qualify for coverage.

Book an appointment to find out how we can help you.

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We Look Forward to Seeing You

Our Address

385 Fairway Road South
Unit 202

Kitchener, ON N2C 2N9

Contact Information

Phone: 519.208.2040
Fax: 519.208.2045
[email protected]

Hours of Operations

9 AM – 5:30 PM
11 AM – 7:30 PM
9 AM – 5 PM
9 AM – 5 PM
9 AM – 3 PM

Our Services

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