I started today’s blog post by wanting to research a new affordable device called the Pebble-Mini. But I think that I will go off on a more important tangent here. During my research I learned that there is not much written about this new device. I decided to go directly to the manufacturer’s website, hence the reason for my tangent. Enhanced Vision in California is a company that specialized in low vision devices. What?
When people lose vision due to age-related macular degeneration, optic atrophy, and so on they can no longer see what the average person is able to see. They may have difficulty deciphering dollar bills from twenty dollar bills. They may not be able to read the newspaper or their mail. They may have trouble reading signs at a distance, such as street signs and road signs. Unfortunately, according to Enhanced Vision more than 15 million people are affected by diseases that cause low vision!
New glasses will most likely not help partially-sighted people like this. So what do they do? There are special clinics across the nation, such as the Lighthouse. There are also optometrist who are specifically trained in low vision. You might be lucky enough to find one in your town. Here in Hawaii we have the Ho’opono Services. Doctor Tafoya refers patients to them on a regular basis.
Now there are devices that are much more user-friendly than those of the past. Enhanced Vision’s Pebble-Mini is one such device. When I went to optometry school we would suggest closed-circuit televisions (CCTV) which were quite large, cumbersome and very expensive. The Pebble-Mini is small enough to wear around your neck! Not only is the 4oz size appealing, but it has the ability to freeze an image and magnify it up to 10 times. You can also change colors for improved contrast. The Pebble-Mini seems very useable for reading menus and prices and prescription labels. I think that it would be difficult to use for long periods of time, such as when reading a book. Per the Enhanced Vision website the device is $295. That is a small fraction of the cost of those old CCTV’s. I plan to look into purchasing a demo for our patients to try at Pacific Retina Care ™.
But what really caught my eye (and ear) was Dr. Bill Takeshita. When you enter the Enhanced Vision website he appears on screen and talks to you. I noticed right away that his eyes tend to turn outward, but did not think much of it. Then he explained why he was there. He is an Enhanced Vision client! He lost much of his vision and uses EV devices to work and to see photos of his children. He learned to successfully ‘live with low vision’. Enhanced Vision offers a free cd and guide with that very title. So if you are affected by vision loss or know someone that is, please consider visiting the Enhanced Vision website and ordering a cd and/or guide. Enhanced Vision strives to help people ‘regain their visual independence.’ That is powerful.