The Low Vision Clinic at Barnard Levit Optometrists offers a comprehensive private low vision service with the latest Low Vision aids and we receive regular referrals from Senior Consultant Ophthalmologists across London. Our Low Vision Specialist, Menachem Salasnik, has many years of experience in the field, having previously worked in the low vision departments of both Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital and Central Middlesex Hospital and he currently heads the low vision department in Watford and St Albans Hospitals.

What is Low Vision?

Low Vision can best be described as a situation where a person is not able to achieve the level of vision they require with regular glasses. This is normally as a result of an eye condition, most commonly cataracts, macula degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

People who suffer from Low Vision may well have difficulties with one or several of the following everyday tasks:

  • Reading newspapers and books, correspondence
  • Completing crossword puzzles
  • Reading the small print on medicine information, product ingredients or financial columns in newspapers
  • Using a computer
  • Playing cards or other games
  • Threading a needle
  • Watching television
  • Recognising faces and reading signs and bus numbers in the distance
  • Seeing the music score while playing an instrument
  • Managing safely around the home, especially in the kitchen

Reading again with low vision

What happens in a Low Vision Assessment?

Initially, Mr.Salasnik will recheck the regular spectacle prescription for both distance and near viewing. On occasion, a slow and careful refraction can reveal a level of vision that seemed previously impossible with regular spectacles.

A variety of visual aids will then be considered and demonstrated, ranging from high powered reading spectacles to hand and stand magnifiers, mini telescopes and CCTVs (Digital Magnifiers). Each aid will be carefully selected bearing in mind the specific tasks that the patient is having difficulty with.

On occasion aids that rely on a different sense apart from vision may be trialled, for example audio or tactile aids.

It is important to note that the goal of the Low Vision Assessment in not to attempt to cure the root cause of the visual difficulty. Instead it aims to help the patient maximize their remaining vision and how best to manage their situation.

Why do I need a consultation;  can I not just buy magnifiers?

Of course someone can buy magnifiers, however many magnifiers need to be used in a specific way or with specific spectacles. It is very common for people to turn up to a Low Vision Assessment with a range of magnifiers that they think are useless, only to be shown how useful they can be with the right spectacles and the correct technique. Mr.Salasnik also has years of experience in this area and is able to recommend what specific type of magnifier is best for different tasks. He may well suggest a variety of different aids for several different purposes.

I am undergoing treatment for my eye problem. Am I suitable for a Low Vision Assessment?

Someone can have a Low Vision Assessment even if they are still in the process of treatment. Why should they have to wait until the surgeon tells them there is nothing further they can do, before getting help with the tasks they find difficult in life?

Is it possible to have the Low Vision Assessment covered by private medical insurance?

This depends upon which insurance company you are with. However, in general if you are referred to the Low Vision Clinic by your GP or an ophthalmologist, you may be able to have the assessment and sometimes even the aids themselves covered by private medical insurance.

I cannot read even with a magnifier because I keep on missing out letters. Can you teach me to read again?

This is a very common complaint especially with Macula Degeneration. Mr Salasnik runs successful courses which teach people who suffer from this very complaint how to read again. While it is difficult to learn a new way of reading, for people who are motivated and are willing to put in the intensive time needed for practice, there is an excellent chance that they will be able to read again. (For more information please click here – Reading Rehabilitation)

Some patients who have lost or are losing their vision may wish to receive specialist therapeutic counselling.