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Jill M. Mogil, O.D.
Clinical Director

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Low Vision

Focusing on Low Vision

What is the difference between low vision and poor vision?

Photo collage of low vision patients

Beyond the borders of the vision community, the average person, likely is unfamiliar with the term ‘low vision’. It has become somewhat synonymous with the term ‘poor vision’. Even in the vision community, there are different definitions floating around that cause confusion, especially when it concerns referring a patient to a low vision specialist.

Two common definitions are:

  1. Low vision is vision that can’t be adequately corrected with glasses, contacts, medication, or surgery.
  2. Low vision is a term that refers to vision 20/70 or worse.

As we define it in our practice, low vision is a result of having an eye condition that prevents someone from doing the things that they want to do.

Common eye conditions that can cause low vision are:

  • macular degeneration
  • Stargardt disease
  • ocular albinism
  • retinitis pigmentosa
  • diabetic retinopathy
  • stroke-hemianopsia

Patients whose eyesight is affected might be having trouble performing tasks such as:

  • reading- books, newspapers, magazines, sheet music, labels on packaging including prescriptions
  • seeing faces
  • driving
  • playing cards
  • art projects
  • crafts
  • watching tv
  • seeing food on utensils

Although the damage sustained may be uncorrectable, our exclusive objective is to capture and maximize the utility of a person’s remaining vision. We can attain our objective through the prescription of highly specialized devices.

Our low vision practice focuses on identifying the best vision-enhancing device to allow the performance of specific tasks. Custom low vision glasses, such as bioptic telescopes, or microscope and prismatic reading glasses, are just a few examples of the hands-free aids at our disposal. Often, more than one device is prescribed to accomplish different tasks.

An example of a low vision patient is Jane.

Jane has macular degeneration. She found out that regular glasses won’t help and there isn’t a cure. She can’t read her Bible anymore or see the numbers well enough on her bills. It’s also hard to tell what is happening on tv. She feels frustrated and down. Jane has low vision. She is a perfect candidate for a low vision evaluation.

Here are some questions that may identify someone is a low vision candidate.

  1. Do you have a vision condition?
  2. Are there things that you can no longer do as a result?
  3. Does the inability to do these things frustrate you?

If the answer to all three of these questions is ‘Yes’, then the person would benefit from a low vision consultation. If the answer to any of these questions is ‘No’, they do not have low vision (they may have poor vision.)

Let’s compare a person with hearing loss to a low vision patient. For example, George has mild hearing loss (poor hearing). He mentions it to his primary care physician, but it is not severe enough to warrant a referral to an audiologist. Instead, George goes out and buys an over-the-counter amplification device so that he can hear his tv better.

Then there is Dennis. Dennis has more severe hearing loss than George. There are some tones that he can’t hear like the seatbelt alarm in his car, and he is concerned that his hearing could put him in physical danger. His primary care physician referred him to an audiologist. Dennis’ audiologist prescribed a specific hearing aid so that he could hear the missing tones and live confidently again.

Low vision specialists are the audiologists of the visual world. Our patients have moderate to severe vision loss and are frustrated with their inability to function in their everyday lives. We assess and prescribe custom, physical solutions for the things they want to do. Oftentimes, we see our patients for the initial assessment, at the dispensing, and thereafter, annually, or as needed to assess any vision loss that occurs over time.

Ever since William Feinbloom OD introduced low vision glasses in 1936 there has been hope and promise for people with low vision. Only recently has the standard of care evolved into the referral of low vision patients to a low vision specialist. What was once hope and promise is now a reality.

Our commitment has always been and continues to be that “There is life after vision loss”.

Dr. Jill Mogil is transforming the lives of many people living with Macular Degeneration through her low vision aids and glasses

Glasses are custom-made as per the patients’ requirements

Dr. Jill Mogil, low vision optometrist and Fellow of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists (FIALVS), is the Clinical Director of Gateway Low Vision. Dr. Mogil specializes in prescribing high-powered, custom low vision glasses to patients with impaired vision due to glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, or other eye diseases, particularly Macular Degeneration, a predominant cause of vision loss that affects millions of American adults ages 60+.

Speaking in detail about age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Dr. Mogil added, “The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina, the film in the back of the eye which turns light into vision. It is in the center and is responsible for clear, high-definition, central vision. Macular degeneration is an eye condition that occurs due to damage to the macula, thus, causing partial or complete loss of central vision.”

Article photo Jill

“My heart goes out to those who have lost the ability to do the normal activities that they love, like reading, watching TV, recognizing faces, and driving,” Dr. Mogil explained, “I’m honored to be a part of the team of doctors that include optometrists, ophthalmologists, and retina specialists who provide a holistic patient-first approach.” People lose hope of ever doing the things they love again, but a low vision practitioner can help by utilizing the custom glasses and other solutions available. Managing the effects of vision loss from conditions like macular degeneration is the critical task that Dr. Mogil attends to.

Through her education, training, and experience Dr. Mogil is uniquely qualified as a specialist in vision enhancement for low vision patients. Although low vision cannot be fully corrected, a wide array of low vision glasses and low vision instruments significantly improve vision, such as, custom bioptic or full diameter telescopic glasses, E-Scoop glasses, high powered prismatic reading glasses, etc.

As an IALVS Fellow, Dr. Mogil is a component of an international network of approximately 40 low vision optometrists located throughout North America. “We utilize our ever-improving arsenal of tools to enhance vision and help patients reclaim the ability to carry out tasks that are most important to them.”

Since referral of low vision patients to a low vision specialist is now recognized as the standard of care, many more low vision patients will benefit from Dr. Mogil’s expertise and association with IALVS. Patients will now be able to appreciate the phrase, “There is life after vision loss.” “Gateway Low Vision is committed to helping people improve their quality of life and giving them another chance to do what they love to do.” Vision Enhancement helps boost one’s confidence and morale, thereby reducing depression.

About Dr. Jill Mogil

Dr. Mogil earned her Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Missouri St. Louis College of Optometry. She is a Fellow of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists (IALVS), a member of the American Optometric Association (AOA), the Missouri Optometric Association (MOA), and the St. Louis Optometric Society. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, she is married with four adult children, relishes hiking, savors traveling, and enjoys working with lenses behind the camera as a part-time documentary filmmaker.

Media Contact

Company: Gateway Low Vision

Name: Dr. Jill M. Mogil

Address: 2821 N Ballas Road, Suite C-11LV Saint Louis, MO 63131

Email: gatewaylowvision@gmail.com

Phone: 833-376-6445

Country: USA

Website: https://www.gatewaylowvision.com/

Mental Health and Your Vision

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the USA; in Canada, Mental Health week is May 6th to 12th. Since 1949, it has been observed throughout the United States as a way of drawing attention to the importance of proper mental health. This year’s theme is #4Mind4Body. The idea is that using elements around us, such as the people in our lives, faith, nature, and even pets, can strengthen wellness and overall mental health.

Did you know that your vision can affect your mental health? While things like stress, trauma, and family history are factors that impact mental health, vision can also impact it.

How Does Vision Affect Mental Health?

Certain types of eye diseases and visual impairments can lead to emotional problems like anxiety and depression. This is particularly common in cases of severe vision loss. Patients with glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy, for example, can experience mild to acute vision loss. This can make everyday activities like driving, running errands, watching TV, using a computer, or cooking, a difficult and painful experience. When this happens, it can cause a loss of independence, potentially leaving the person mentally and emotionally devastated.

Like most surgical procedures, LASIK corrective surgery is permanent and irreversible. Although it has very high success rates, LASIK has been considered the cause of depression and mental health issues in a few instances.

Kids’ Vision and Mental Health

Increased screen time among school-age children and teens has been shown to reduce emotional stability and cause repeated distractions and difficulty completing tasks, while also increasing the likelihood of developing nearsightedness.

Kids with visual problems often experience difficulty in school. If they can’t see the board clearly or constantly struggle with homework due to poor vision, they may act out their frustration or have trouble getting along with their peers.

Coping with Vision Problems

One of the most important ways to cope with visual problems is awareness. Simply paying attention to the signs and symptoms — whether the patient is an adult or a child — is a crucial first step. 

Family members, close friends, colleagues, parents, and teachers can all play an important role in detecting emotional suffering in those with visual difficulties. Pay attention to signs of changes in behavior, such as a loss of appetite, persistent exhaustion, or decreased interest in favorite activities.

Thankfully, many common vision problems are treatable. Things like double vision, hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), amblyopia (lazy eye), and post-concussion vision difficulties can be managed. Vision correction devices, therapeutic lenses, visual exercises, or special prism glasses may help provide the visual clarity you need. Your primary eye doctor can help and a vision therapist or low vision expert may make a significant impact on your quality of life.

How You Can Help

There are some things you can do on your own to raise awareness about good mental health:

Speak Up

Often, just talking about mental health struggles can be incredibly empowering. Ask for help from family and friends or find a local support group. Be open and honest about what you’re going through and talk with others who are going through the same thing. Remember: you’re not alone.

If you experience any type of sudden changes to your vision — even if it’s temporary — talk to your eye doctor. A delay in treatment may have more serious consequences, so speak up and don’t wait.

Get Social

Developing healthy personal relationships improves mental health. People with strong social connections are less likely to experience severe depression and may even live longer. Go out with friends, join a club, or consider volunteering.

Have an Animal

Having a pet has been shown to boost mental health and help combat feelings of loneliness. Guide dogs can be especially beneficial for people suffering from vision loss.

Use Visual Aids

If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health issues caused by vision loss, visual aids can help. Devices like magnifiers or telescopic lenses can enlarge text, images, and objects, so you can see them more clearly and in greater detail.

Kids can benefit from vision correction like glasses, contacts, or specialized lenses for more severe cases of refractive errors. Vision therapy may be an option, too. It is a customized program of exercises that can improve and strengthen visual functions.

Always talk to your eye doctor about any concerns, questions, or struggles. 

Thanks to programs like Mental Health Awareness Month, there is less of a stigma around mental health than just a few decades ago. Advancements in medical technologies and scientific research have led to innovative solutions for better vision care.

During this Mental Health Awareness Month, share your share your struggles, stories, and successes with others. Use the hashtag #Mind4Body and give your loved ones hope for a healthy and high quality of life.

 

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