Preparing for the low vision patients of the future –

Low vision aid suppliers, Eschenbach Optik and Sight and Sound Technology, tell OT  about developments in the technology and what patients are looking for
Kimberley Young
06 June 2022
“Dispensing low vision aids needs education and passion,” Matthias Anke, managing director at Eschenbach Optik, told OT. This might not be the most glamorous side to the optical industry, he argues, “but you always meet somebody who is desperate for them, and this is very rewarding, because we help people to see again.”
The numbers of people requiring low vision aids are only going to grow in the west, Anke suggested, as society lives longer with the same diseases. “For example, diabetic retinopathy is something we see growing dramatically in most Western countries.”

With this in mind, supporting patients who might benefit from low vision aids could become increasingly important, but entering the low vision field need not be overwhelming. Anke emphasised: “You don’t need to have 200 different products on the shelf to be successful with your customers.”

The company provides a package comprising six products that offer practices and their patients an entry point into low vision aids.

Technology in this field is accelerating rapidly, suggested Glenn Tookey, CEO of Sight and Sound. With the market moving quickly, if practitioners last learnt about low vision aids in their training, “they may be 10 to 15 years out of date, so it’s well worth an update.”

The distributor of aids for blind and visually impaired people runs CPD sessions to support practitioners to expand their knowledge of low vision aids, and also operates a referral portal through its website. This enables individuals to self-refer, or eye care professionals to refer patients, and track the progress of the inquiry.

Both suppliers emphasised the impact that low vision aids can have for patients, and the role that optometrists can have in signposting individuals to access support.

“Optometry is the ideal profession to successfully take care of the potentially visually impaired,” Anke said. He highlighted that there are a range of devices to support patients who qualify for optical help for small print.

“The earlier we start to introduce optical help to those who might need more extensive help at a certain point of time, the better it is,” he emphasised.

Tookey also illustrated the benefits patients can have in accessing low vision technology earlier in their journey: “There are many shades of grey between being registered as blind, or in the actual low vision pathway, where a person may benefit from seeing the technology available.”

Some patients might not see the technologies that are available until their condition becomes permanent and they are perhaps referred to a charity. Tookey shared: “I’m really keen that eye health professionals know that these tools are out there and there is no cost to or time required for them to connect with us for CPD or to direct a patient.”

“My key message would be to reach out, engage and get up to speed. Once you know we are out here, you can help yourselves and so many more people,” he added.
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