The Low Vision Clinic, as a part of the Center for Vision Health, identifies and treats near blindness vision disorders and provides services for each patient to achieve his/her highest level of independence.
Our Low Vision Clinic was established to provide treatment to adults, seniors and children experiencing low vision. Low vision, or partial blindness, means you cannot fix your eyesight with glasses, contact lenses, medication or surgery. It is estimated that 12% of the American population has low vision or blindness. For children and adults with low vision issues, we stock low vision assistive devices; these are special tools that can help people with low vision to read, write, manage daily tasks and live independently. These assistive devices include magnifying aids, closed-circuit televisions, electronic reading machines and computers with large print and a talking function.
Unique to our vision clinic is the ability to provide services to any person, regardless of age or disability. Examinations are routinely conducted on infants, nonverbal individuals, individuals with various degrees of mental disabilities and individuals with physical disabilities. The Center for Vision Health has the only nonprofit low vision center in the state of Texas, outside the University of Houston’s School of Optometry and the only full-time low vision center in North Texas. We treat about 1,000 low vision patients per year.
Each instance of low vision requires an individualized treatment protocol. The optometrist’s first task is to determine the level of sight that remains. This is accomplished through a dilated, low vision exam and a quality low vision exam takes 2-2.5 hours. Along with an exam, the optometrist takes a full medical and personal history and discusses vision goals and needs with the patient. After the tests are complete, the doctor and family will discuss their options for assistive devices and any other needed referrals. The patient and doctor work together to develop a treatment plan designed to meet the patient’s vision goals and take full advantage of the sight the patient has left.
Assistive devices are the most common treatment for low vision. Each assistive device has a different function and often the patient needs multiple devices. Assistive devices offered range from handheld illuminated magnifiers, to text-to-speech readers and other technology driven assistive devices.
After deciding which type of assistive device would be most be beneficial, the doctor and patient spend time working with different devices to find the best fit. Once selected, the patient receives extensive training on the use and care of the device. The staff will also assist with accessing other support systems, such as Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services – Division for Blind Services and other referrals, as needed.
Dr. Stephanie Fleming, the Center for Vision Health Director and an optometrist, has twice received the Rehabilitation Professional of the Year award. She has also received the Helen Keller Award from the Lion’s Sight and Tissue Foundation District 2X-1 and has been on staff at Dallas Services for 21 years. Her area of expertise is low vision for both adults and children.