Magic Eyes to See Better - The New Indian Express

Magic Eyes to See Better

Published: 04th May 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 03rd May 2014 09:02 AM

Dr Raymond Mis, today is a successful gastroenterologist practicing and teaching in Rhode Island, US. You will ask, what’s unusual about it? Hold your breath. Not very long ago he was on the verge of ending his practice, because he is legally blind. Raymond turned it around with low vision devices (LVD), and today is also a motivational speaker. Better lighting, magnifiers and other such LVDs can help low vision patients function better with the remaining vision they have.

Low vision rehabilitation with LVDs has caught on in South India. Vijaya K Gothwal, head Centre for Sight Enhancement, L V Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, says, “Low vision rehabilitation services are scarce throughout the world. More importantly, trained low vision specialists are even fewer. Although significant advances have occurred in the field of medical and surgical treatments in India, efforts to rehabilitate those who have low vision or are blind is lacking.”
There are about 10 million people with low vision and 30-40 million blind across all age groups in India. Of these, approximately 0.25 million blind are children under 16 years of age and another one million children have low vision.

“Macular degeneration, which usually strikes people over 60, destroys the central part of the retina, blurring the center of a patient’s field of vision and making it hard to read or recognize faces,” says Premnandhini Satgunam, a research optometrist with L V Prasad. 
Magnifying glasses, eyeglasses and more elaborate devices like wearable telescopes are the traditional vision aids. Closed-circuit television systems that look like library microfilm readers have been available for decades to enlarge text. “Recent innovations in assistive technology (such as screen readers, reading machines) have significantly increased the opportunities for the visually impaired, especially the severely visually impaired, to succeed in competitive situations,” adds Gothwal.

“An optometrist trained in low vision care can evaluate and provide guidance to choose the appropriate device for a patient. Vision rehabilitation specialists can help and train individuals with vision loss in skills such as safe navigation in our environment and other activities of daily living,” says Satgunam. 
B Yadagir, a senior technical officer with Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), a Ministry of Defense organisation, was diagnosed with Ocular Albinism and Nystagmus at a young age, but that did not slow him down. In 1997, a relative recommended him to L V Prasad. At the Centre for Sight Enhancement there was a marked improvement in his condition with low vision devices like magnifier, peaked cap (to avoid sunlight as he was also sensitive to heat) and full sleeved shirts to cover his hands, use of tinted glasses (which gave a lot of improvement), black ink pen, hand held magnifier, telescope, etc. Later, when Yadagiri joined a polytechnic course, the telescope proved very useful. He ended up scoring 91 per cent and was the top scorer in his class. He went on to procure a government certificate for the physically handicapped that facilitated special privileges, and pursued his higher studies in engineering and is now gainfully employed with BDL. 


Low vision devises can be divided into optical or non-optical devices. Optical devices have one or more lenses to modify or enlarge the object of interest. Non-optical devices do not have any lens system but will make it easier to see objects. Optical devices are placed between the eye and the object to be viewed and it will be magnified. This will increase the size of the image of the object on the retina. Magnifiers are used for near tasks and can be prescribed as hand-held or stand magnifiers with or without illumination. Spectacle magnifiers are the most commonly prescribed magnifiers. Devices also include illumination devices such as lamps and reading stands, check registers, typo scopes, writing guides, bold-lined paper, needle-threaders, magnifying mirrors, high contrast watches, and large print items such as books, talking calculators, speech and Braille conversion systems.

All About LVD

■ Low vision devises can be divided into optical or non-optical devices.

■ Optical devices have one or more lenses to modify or enlarge the object of interest. Non-optical devices do not have any lens system but will make it easier to see objects.

■ Optical devices are placed between the eye and the object to be viewed and it will be magnified. This will increase the size of the image of the object on the retina.

■ Magnifiers are used for near tasks and can be prescribed as hand-held or stand magnifiers with or without illumination.

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