Reading Rehabilitation for the Low Vision Patient
A common complaint we hear from people who suffer from Macular Degeneration and other similar eye conditions is that, even with magnifiers, they are unable to read for any real length of time. They describe difficulties where words or letters disappear or distort, to the extent that the text becomes unintelligible.
The reason for this is that in Macular Degeneration a very small, but significant, central area of the vision is damaged. This macular area is the part of the eye that has, until now, always been used to see clearly and straight ahead. Because this area is now damaged, when the eye looks directly at a letter or word it may well disappear or become distorted. The vision to the side of this central area is often completely fine and therefore the words to the side can be seen comparatively well. As a person is reading they move their eyes along the text and every time they directly point their eye at a word, it will disappear.
What is Reading Rehabilitation?
Our Low Vision Consultant, Mr Salasnik, runs successful courses, using proven and accepted methods, which teach people who suffer from this complaint how to read again, using only their side vision which is unaffected. Although the reading speed will never be as fast as it was previous to the condition, many patients are able to achieve a workable, comparatively fast, reading speed without skipping words or letters. At the end of the course many people report finally being able to read a book for the first time since their eyes started deteriorating.
The Initial Consultation
Initially, Mr Salasnik will work out the best aid to help the patient to read, whether it is extra strong spectacles, a mini telescope attached to a pair of spectacles or a magnifier (for more info see – Low Vision Clinic).
He will then ascertain exactly what part of the eye currently provides the best and most consistent vision and will work out the best lighting conditions to enable comfortable reading.
Using special, but straightforward techniques coupled with intensive practice at home the patient is taught how to use ‘Steady Eye Strategy’ to consistently use only that part of the eye that provides optimal vision.
The length of the course is variable and depends on the depth and size of the scotoma (the damaged area of vision) and the patient’s motivation and practice time. On occasion, a couple of visits will be enough. However, in some cases, it may take many months.
Who is this course suitable for?
Anyone who is having trouble with words or letters disappearing when they read would gain from this course. However, the vast majority of patients who need help with this technique are in their senior years and have been reading in a regular way for most of their lives. In order to learn a new technique at this stage it takes patience and consistent practice and the course is therefore only suitable for someone who is willing to put in the intensive effort needed to succeed.