We have had great success helping people with macular degeneration to see again, including those with its most severe forms.
My name is Tom Perski, and I’m a coach for new IrisVision users and have macular degeneration myself.
If a person has a large central blind spot in both eyes, wearing the IrisVision headset allows an immersive view with vivid colors, bright illumination and contrast, all important factors for those of us who are living with macular degeneration.
In my case, my blind spot or scotoma is large and dense. If I am standing six feet away from my wife, the blind spot covers her entire head, which I cannot see at all.
When I put on IrisVision and zoom to 10X, everything around my blind spot is now ten times larger and the relative size of the scotoma looks ten times smaller. Thus, my blind spot is now very small and may only cover a small portion of her nose. I can see clearly her chin, lips, eyes and face. Not only can I see the features of her face, but vivid details stand out — like the twinkle in her eyes!
Because the small blind spot is still there, we teach people to learn to move their eye slowly to the side, up or down. Then, they can see the entire face with no spot interference.
We call this skill of moving the blind spot off-center viewing. It takes practice and effort to do this. It must be done daily if someone has not been shown this technique, and it may take several months to master the skill.
The next step is to practice looking up, down or to the side in a systematic way. We say it is like looking at the face of a clock. If one were to look up at twelve o’clock, would they notice if the image looked clearer? Now, shift to different positions on the clock. Which position makes the image clearest? Some may have more than one clear position.
We encourage people to make sure to move the eye, not the head. Make slow movements and be patient — this takes practice. We also urge our customers to do this when they are not wearing the IrisVision headset. Many can practice moving the eye while sitting and looking across the kitchen at the coffee pot. It is important to notice which way to view is best. People can also practice this skill while looking closely at a coffee cup. Many people also practice while standing so that they can learn to see a curb or a step more clearly
The next major step is to learn how to hold the new position for longer and longer periods of time. Att first, many people can only hold their spot for a few seconds. As soon as they blink, the eye goes back to the center. To overcome this takes time and practice. Again, it is better to practice moving the eye, not the head. Since IrisVision is a headset, we want to keep the head still and only move the eye.
The goal over time is to hold or fixate the spot away from the center long enough to do a particular task. For instance, pouring hot water into a teacup may take 20 to 30 seconds. If the eye goes back to the middle while pouring hot liquid, this could be dangerous.
Some people with a large spot in one eye and a small spot in the other cannot do this well, as the brain will always accentuate the better eye, and often these people do not see a blind spot. Only when both eyes are affected does off-center viewing make sense. For others who cannot seem to get the concept or find their spot, we urge them to look at a target ten feet away, like a very large black letter or number on a white background.
Not only can they move the eye to a better position to see better, they can try moving the eye back to the center to make the view worse. Doing this back and forth several times, making the letter clear and then not clear, gives the person a more conscious awareness of being in control of their own movements, as well as learning how far to move the eye to get the best results. We encourage our customers to practice moving the eye only slightly — enough to get the better view. The actual view is not as good when moving the eye further to the side than needed.
Would you like help mastering these skills? Contact the IrisVision customer experience team, and we’d be glad to give you one-on-one coaching!