Seattle Optometrist Helps Legally Blind to See Again
New Office in Olympia
Just because you have macular degeneration or other eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy doesn’t mean you must give up driving.
Ever look through a pair of field glasses or binoculars? Things look bigger and closer, and much easier to see. California Optometrist, Dr. Richard J. Shuldiner, and Seattle, WA Optometrist, Dr. Ross Cusic, are using miniaturized binoculars or telescopes to help people who have lost vision from macular degeneration or other eye conditions.
“Some of my patients consider me the last stop when it comes to vision loss, ”said Dr. Cusic, a low vision Optometrist who has just completed training with Dr. Shuldiner in California. “People don’t know that there are doctors who are very experienced in low vision care.”
Is the most common eye disease amongst the senior population. As many as 25% of those over 65 have some degree of degeneration. The macula is one small part of the entire retina, but it is the most sensitive and gives us sharp images. When it degenerates, macular degeneration leaves a blind spot right in the center of vision making it impossible to recognize faces, read a book, or pass the driver’s vision test.
The experts do not know what causes macular degenerations. But it is known that UV light from the sun is a major contributing factor. Other factors are smoking, aging of course, and improper nutrition. 15 to 20% of the time it is genetic. There are two types, wet and dry. The wet type involves leaky blood vessels and can be lasered shut. Unfortunately, it’s a temporary fix since other leaks usually occur.
Washington and Oregon are among many states that allow the use of telescopic glasses to help meet the vision requirements for driving. Donald Paquette, 72, a former county assessor from Anaheim, California was seen last November. “I could not read the street signs soon enough when driving, and I couldn’t read my saxophone music anymore.”
The Doctor fit him with bioptic telescope glasses. “Amazing!” says Donald. “I can read the street signs twice as far as I did before. I can play my sax again. Happy days!”
Dr. Cusic also provides special prismatic reading glasses to make the newspaper a little easier to read. Carole Buckles, 71, of Arcadia California came on the advice of a friend. “I wanted to be able to keep driving and do the fun things in life” One of those fun things is baseball. I love going to baseball games and now I can see those close plays again,” said Carole.
Bioptic Telescopic glasses
With bioptic telescopic glasses, you can read signs and see traffic lights farther away. As Carole puts it, “These telescope glasses not only allow me to read signs from a farther distance they make driving much easier. I’ve also used them to watch television so I don’t have to sit so close. Definitely worth the $1750 cost. I don’t know why I waited two years to do this; I should have come sooner.”
Peter Rhodes traveled from Manchester, UK to be fit for special amorphic glasses for Retinitis Pigmentosa. He is one of the first patients in the United States or the UK to be helped with this rare eye disorder.
Ellen Imboden traveled from Sweden and was helped with two pairs of glasses: Special $475 prismatic glasses that let her read newsprint, as well as bioptic telescopes to continue driving in Sweden.
Low vision devices are not always expensive. Some reading glasses cost as little as $375 and some magnifiers under $100. Every case is different because people have different levels of vision and different desires.