Macular degeneration results in more new cases of legal blindness in the United States than any other disease and accounts for over 165,000 first visits to physicians each year. Magnification, illumination control, and eccentric viewing training are the only documented, effective vision rehabilitation techniques known. Magnification has been used for decades, control of illumination has had a known effect for many years, and eccentric viewing training has been systematically used for less than 10 years. These techniques, although having demonstrated efficacy, require extensive individual patient training and a considerable investment of professional training time for optimum results. More recently developed techniques use prism correction for near and distance viewing or scanning laser opthalmoscopy for training. Current knowledge of peripheral retinal function offers new avenues of research to improve upon current rehabilitation techniques. Computer technology also offers the hope of developing easily used, cost-effective materials and equipment to train the patient to use the peripheral retina in place of the damaged/diseased macula. In this paper, we examine current and emerging rehabilitation techniques and highlight some areas of research that hold promise of improving rehabilitation practices for patients having central visual field losses.
This paper is based on an oral presentation given by Drs. Goodrich and Mehr on December 13, 1982 at the Symposium on Peripheral Visual Function, jointly sponsored by the Section on Low Vision and the Section on Visual Science at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Optometry in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Received September 12, 1985.
* Ph.D., Member of Faculty, F.A.A.O.
† Optometrist, F.A.A.O.
Gregory L. Goodrich
School of Optometry
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California 94720
© 1986 American Academy of Optometry