Q: My 14-year-old son has been diagnosed with juvenile macular dystrophy. He has some low vision tools to help with his reading and writing. How often should he see an ophthalmologist? Should he also see a low vision doctor?

A: Juvenile macular dystrophy needs to be followed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist at least once a year with a dilated eye examination. Patients with juvenile macular dystrophy benefit from low vision aids, therefore a low vision examination is recommended. A low vision doctor will perform a functional vision examination to determine if he could benefit from optical devices such as high-powered spectacles, magnifiers, telescopes, electronic magnification, assistive technology, and vision rehabilitation services. These optical devices, technology, and vision rehabilitation services will enable him to use his remaining vision and learn necessary skills in order to perform daily living activities. – Linda Pang, O.D. at Lighthouse International

Q: I have a macular hole and myopic degeneration. How can I stop it from getting worse?

A: It is important that you have eye examinations by an ophthalmologist or optometrist on a regular basis to monitor the macular hole and myopic degeneration. As a result of myopic degeneration, the retinal tissue is very thin. Because of the progressive structural changes to the eye, patients with myopic degeneration are more susceptible to developing glaucoma, premature cataracts, subretinal neovascular membranes, retinal breaks or retinal detachments. Avoid activities or contact sports which could jolt the body and as a result, increase the risk of retinal detachments. Always wear protective glasses.

It is advised that you have a low vision examination by a low vision specialist to discuss optical devices, electronic magnification, non-optical aids, and vision rehabilitation services to assist performing activities of daily living. – Linda Pang, O.D. at Lighthouse International

Q: I have a black spot on my left eye and it moves as I move my eye around. I’m worried I might be getting age-related macular degeneration. My mother is legally blind now because of AMD. Is this something I might get because it runs in my family? I haven’t seen an ophthalmologist because I don’t have medical insurance.

A: People with a family history of age related macular degeneration (AMD) are at a higher risk of developing AMD. Uncontrollable risk factors include: ethnicity, age, genetic factors, and lightly pigmented eye color. Controllable risk factors include: diet, exercise, sun exposure, smoking, and cardiovascular disease.

Because you have a family history of AMD and you are seeing a black spot in your vision, it is highly advised that you see an ophthalmologist or optometrist for a dilated eye examination to determine the cause of the black spot and whether you have signs of AMD. Since you don’t have medical insurance, you should consider a dilated eye examination at a medical clinic or hospital (with an ophthalmology or optometry department) because they may have a sliding scale fee or other discounted programs. – Linda Pang, O.D. at Lighthouse International



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