Helping Older American’s with Vision Loss

By Joan Nerderman

Eye care in someone’s home is always EYE opening and can be so rewarding.   I have had the opportunity for the last 13 years to go into patient homes and nursing homes with a senior Ohio State University optometry extern who has expressed an interest in helping people in these areas of need.

What better way for an extern to experience the need, than to see the patient’s environment and the visual challenges: like the TV that’s only 6 feet away and at an angle or seeing them reading the newspaper in their dimly lit house. Often the suggestions to some of these problems are as simple as can the TV be put in a new location or do you have any gooseneck lamps in the house?

With just a few tools by your side like a hand held slit lamp, trial lenses and frame, eye chart (we have a simple one we tape to the wall and measure test distance), tonopen, Perkins or Icare tonometer, small lensometer is nice, drops and your BIO/panoptic, you can visit the patient it their home, and make small adjustments to help improve their life.  One of the most rewarding patients was one who had terrible neck contractures and cataracts.  Although no one could do surgery in her position we were able to get her a stand magnifier that allowed her to see the one thing she wanted–her grandson’s wedding pictures.

Also seeing the interaction of the externs with the fading population of WWII veterans, warms my heart. We can’t always get them seeing great but we can help advise those who may not otherwise get out for vision care, gain some vision independence.

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