Macular Degeneration/LVA

Coping with Macular Degeneration

Age related macular degeneration (ARMD) is one of the leading causes of vision loss among seniors. The vision loss is usually permanent but will not lead to total blindness. It is a disease that effects the blood vessel layer of the retina. The retina is a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye that is responsible for converting the light into the images we see. The retina is like the film inside a camera, when light hits the film a picture is formed.

The vision that is associated with the retina has two parts. The central vision and the peripheral vision. The central vision is like the "bull’s eye" at the center of the retina. This area is called the macula.

The macula is responsible for detail vision such as reading, watching television, recognizing faces and reading street signs. The peripheral vision or side vision is responsible for seeing the surroundings. It is the macula that is affected when you have ARMD. An example of what someone would see if they had ARMD

would the ability to see a person standing and you can describe the colours of their clothing (peripheral vision) but the inability to recognize their face (macular or central vision).

There are two types of macular degeneration, the "dry type" and the "wet type". The dry type is more common, less severe and the degeneration is usually slow. The wet type, the vision loss is quite rapid and usually severe but only occurs in about 5% to 10% of the cases.

Macular degeneration tends to be hereditary and therefore may run in families. Researchers also seem to agree that the cumulative damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet light seem to play an important role in speeding up the degeneration. A good pair of sunglasses that have a full UV filter and is large enough to give good coverage is advisable. There are also other factors that may play a role with ARMD, such as smoking and alcohol. One should consult with their eye doctor regularly to find the latest in what is available in slowing down the progression.

Some seniors simply accept their vision loss as a natural aging process and do not seek proper care.

They seem to have "nothing can be done" attitude. There is a lot that can be done. The first step is to consult with your eye doctor to get the proper medical care, advise and the best possible eyeglass prescription. Then you should seek the help of your optician or a low vision specialist for products and services that are available to you.

These products or assistive devices can be categorized by what they do. Near vision devices magnify images so as to allow you to see at a close range like reading and playing cards. There are many devices that serve this need depending on the application and the patient’s preference. They include hand held magnifiers, illuminated magnifiers, microscopic reading glasses and video magnifiers.

Distance viewing devices are mainly telescopes and binocular used to help someone watch television, go to theatre or reading street signs.

Another device category are illumination control devices such as selective filter lenses that help control the amount and the type of light that enters the eye. The lenses are designed to provide a high degree of contrast to optimize the vision. These lenses can dim down a bright sunny day or can brighten and enhance indoor or dim conditions.

The final category of devices are non optical in nature. There are hundreds of these devices to help with daily tasks such as large print books, computer software programs to enlarge print on a monitor, line guides to help in writing more legibly and large bold print cheques available from most banks.

As can be realized, there are many products available to help seniors with macular degeneration. There is not one "magical" product that will solve all vision problems. It is quite common to have a variety of products to aid in different tasks. The role of your low vision specialist is not to restore the vision you have lost, but to make the most of the remaining vision.

The above information was taken from an article written by Sam Thomas for the Etobicoke Guardian Newspaper.

Sam Thomas:
A co-owner of the Brook & Braddock Stores, licensed optician, one of Canada's leading authorities on low vision dispensing, works with the local schools with sight testing students, lecturer on Low Vision and other optical subjects. He is also active in the local Rotarian Club of Etobicoke.


Brook & Braddock Low Vision Centre
Our Low Vision Centre carries various devices such as: Magnifiers (handheld, stand 'type', some available with illumination), telescopic units both monocular and binocular, magnifiers built into spectacles and Closed Circuit Television.

In many cases of dramatic vision loss, it is possible to give a person some limited vision. The process is done with magnification (enlarging an object within the eye until the image is recognized).

When SELECTING the best possible magnifier for someone else, always use the lowest amount of magnification that just does the job. The strongest is not always the best. B&B has developed a Test Evaluating Chart that when printed out will make the selection much easier (or at least a starting point).

Low Vision Aid TEST CHART.

Beecher Mirage Binocular

For distance vision.
The Beecher is an eyeglass mounted miniature binocular of a 7X30 wide angle glass. Bulky prisms are replaced by 'super thin' (1mm) NASA-quality mirrors in a rugged body shell of polycarbonate and has an adjustable focal length varying from infinity to 6'.

The light weight unit (3oz.) is comfortable and does not need to be held. An ideal device for watching TV.


As each clients' individual needs have to be assessed, it is vital that they be seen by an expert in this field, to evaluate which device might work best for them.

Please feel free to contact B&B for an assessment. Our technical staff are all registered Opticians under the Licensing Act of the province of Ontario. Brook & Braddock are registered vendors for the Ontario 'Assistive Devices Program'. We work with the Canadian Institute for the Blind and many prescribers who specialize with the visually impaired.