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Use of Prescribed Optical Devices in Age-Related Macular Degeneration

DeCarlo, Dawn K.*; McGwin, Gerald Jr.; Searcey, Karen; Gao, Liyan§; Snow, Marsha; Stevens, Lynne; Owsley, Cynthia§

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e3182678db5
Original Articles

Purpose. To evaluate prescribed optical device use in terms of frequency and perceived usefulness among people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). We also sought to determine the tasks for which they were using their prescribed low vision device(s).

Methods. One hundred ninety-nine patients with AMD presenting for the first time to the low vision service were recruited from a university-based clinic. Prior to the low vision evaluation and device prescription, they completed the National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire 25, Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire, and a general health questionnaire. The low vision evaluation included best-corrected Early Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy Study visual acuity, MNREAD testing, microperimetry, prescription, and dispensing of optical low vision devices. Telephone follow-up interviews were conducted about device usage 1-week, 1-month, and 3-months postintervention.

Results. One hundred eighty-one participants were prescribed low vision devices. Of them, 93% completed all 3 follow-up interviews. Intensive users (≥1 hours/day) of devices were similar in demographic and visual characteristics to non-intensive users (<1 hours/day), except for habitual reading acuity and speed as well as contrast sensitivity. Overall, device use increased slightly over 3 months of follow-up. Magnifiers were reported to be moderately-to-extremely useful by >80% of participants at all time points except the 1-month follow-up for hand magnifiers (75%). High plus spectacles were the least frequently prescribed device and rated as moderately-to-extremely useful by 70%, 74%, and 59% at 1 week, 1 month, and 3 months, respectively. Most participants used their devices for leisure reading, followed by managing bills. Very few devices (n = 3, <1%) were not used at any time point.

Conclusions. Patients with AMD who are provided with prescribed optical low vision devices do use them and perceive them as useful, especially for leisure reading activities. High rates of usage were maintained over 3 month.







Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine (DKD, GMc, KS, LG, LS, CO), Department of Optometry, School of Optometry (DKD, MS), Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health (GMc), and Section of Trauma, Burns, and Surgical Critical Care, Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine (GMc), University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama.

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Received January 10, 2012; accepted May 14, 2012.

Dawn K. DeCarlo UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation CEFH 405, 700 18th Street South Birmingham, AL 35233 e-mail:

© 2012 American Academy of Optometry