It’s a daily activity so many of us take for granted — being able to hop in the car and drive somewhere. Yet it’s one task I’m especially grateful for this new year!
I’ve struggled to see the world clearly for the past 59 years. That’s because I have severe myopia, better known as nearsightedness. Over the years, surgery, lens implants, and regular glasses helped me adapt to life.
About four years ago, I decided to retire from my job as a medical examiner and settle here in Sun Lakes. I was looking forward to spending my time taking day trips around the area with my wife. Unfortunately, my sight started getting worse, and the regular treatment methods weren’t helping. I was afraid I’d have to give up a big part of my retirement and my independence.
This past spring, I decided to look online for local support groups who could help me cope with my situation, and I came across information about Dr. Paul Woolf, a Gilbert low vision optometrist. Low vision is any kind of visual impairment that can’t be corrected through glasses, contact lenses, medication or surgery, and according to The Vision Council, affects 1 in 28 Americans age 40 and older. Low vision can take many forms, including blurred vision, blind spots, or tunnel vision.
I had always associated low vision with cataracts, partial blindness, or macular degeneration, and, typically, myopia doesn’t fall under that category. I assumed I couldn’t be helped, until I talked to Dr. Woolf.
“When new patients visit my office, I always ask them what activities are on their ‘hope to do’ list, or what they’d like to do if they could see better,” explains Dr. Woolf. “Do they want to be able to read the newspaper or books? Do they want to continue to drive or watch their grandchildren play sports?”
My number one goal was to drive again. After my initial exam, Dr. Woolf recommended that I try a unique type of telescopic glasses that look similar to what jewelers or surgeons use. These low vision optical devices provide a higher level of magnification and prescription strength. Yet unlike regular glasses, which help people generally see distances better, low vision optical devices are task-specific.
It took about a month to acclimate myself to the glasses before I felt comfortable to drive. Arizona law allows the use of bioptic telescopes for driving, if a person meets the DMV vision requirements — and thanks to these special prescription glasses, I was able to renew my driver’s license.
If you struggle with low vision, there’s hope! Find a low vision doctor, like Dr. Woolf at woolfeyecare.net, and have an evaluation. I’m thankful I did.