Ms Hannah Dunbar is the Low Vision Specialist Optometrist at Clinica London who recently founded the Low Vision Clinic for patients with visual impairment.
She aims to optimize patients’ vision when they have complex eye problems including low vision from age-related macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, and other retinal and non-retinal inherited eye conditions.
Ms Dunbar sees both children and adults to help them with magnifying aids and other electronic vision devices, and hence help them lead normal lives.
What is visual impairment?
Visual impairment or low vision is when a person’s vision is reduced and cannot be entirely restored by spectacles or contact lenses. In many such people, a low vision assessment in the Low Vision Clinic will be helpful.
What is a low vision assessment?
At a low vision assessment, Ms Dunbar aims to reduce the barriers created by visual impairment and maximize the person’s remaining vision wherever possible. Therefore, she can help both their vision and encourage a normal life. Though people with visual impairment commonly complain of difficulty reading, this is not the only area affected by visual impairment. The patient´s vision may be affected by poor central vision, poor visual field or difficulties in certain light conditions.
There is a wide range of daily activities that can be affected by visual impairment including, but not limited to: employment, education, hobbies and pastimes, mobility and independence, self-care and the ability to look after others, accessing information and technology, developing and maintaining personal relationships and emotional wellbeing. A low vision assessment is tailored to address the specific difficulties faced by the individual child or adult.
What happens during a low vision assessment?
After establishing the challenges, the individual with visual impairment experiences, vision is assessed. Ms Dunbar uses standard letter charts, reading and contrast tests. Spectacle prescription is determined by subjective and objective refraction to check whether glasses may offer any improvement. In children, cycloplegic refraction is often required where pupil dilating drops are put in to aid the accuracy of the refraction and glasses prescription, as they often over accommodate otherwise.
Ms Dunbar looks at a range of potentially suitable glasses, optical magnifiers and electronic devices selected to target specific tasks the patient expresses difficulty with. Examples of optical magnifiers are hand magnifiers, stand magnifiers, telescopes or strong magnifying reading glasses. Electronic devices include portable and desktop electronic magnifying systems and text to speech devices. Suitable devices are available to try and purchase at Clinica.
Common devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones also have a wide range of accessibility features, such as onscreen magnification, contrast enhancement, speech output, and voice activation. If appropriate, information can be provided to low vision patients on adjusting these settings to their needs, or we can signpost to training providers.
Depending on an individual’s needs, Ms Dunbar will signpost or offer referral to dedicated services or professionals. For example, qualified teachers for visual impairment who support children in UK schools, Access to Work specialists who perform workplace assessments for people in employment with visual impairment or counsellors who support those experiencing low mood or anxiety. Following a low vision assessment, a detailed report is provided outlining all recommendations made and sources of further information.
Who should have a low vision assessment?
Children and adults with uncorrectable vision loss, such as reduced visual acuity (detailed vision) and/or restricted visual fields (peripheral vision), should be referred for a low vision assessment. Children with visual impairment can be seen from their 4th birthday. Adults can be seen at any age.
How can I get a referral?
An ophthalmologist can refer their patients for a low vision assessment with Ms Dunbar. If your vision is reduced, your ophthalmologist may recommend a low vision assessment to you. You can also ask your ophthalmologist to refer you if you are struggling with your vision. Early access to a low vision assessment can be helpful in helping a person adjust to changes in their vision.
I am having problems with my vision. Can I book a low vision assessment without a referral?
No, alas not. A low vision assessment does not diagnose or treat an eye condition; instead, the impact of an already diagnosed condition is assessed so that remaining vision can be maximized and strategies determined for overcoming any visual challenges faced. Anyone experiencing reduced vision must first see an ophthalmologist so that the cause of their vision problems can be established and treatment started wherever appropriate. For this reason, only those who have been seen by a UK ophthalmologist within the previous 12 months can be seen for a low vision assessment.
Clinica’s Consultants can refer you to the Low Vision Clinic
At Clinica, we have a wide range of ophthalmic specialists who can diagnose and manage your eye condition and refer you for a low vision assessment if required, no matter what eye condition you have.
Clinica´s Retinal Care Unit has five Ophthalmic Retinal Specialists, Ms Evgenia Anikina, Mr Julian Robbins, Ms Esther Posner, Professor Michel Michaelides and Mr Jaheed Khan, all of whom can assess retinal problems in children and adults and subsequently refer you to Ms Dunbar. We also have Ms Naz Raoof, Neuro-Ophthalmology Specialist and Ms Laura Crawley Glaucoma and Cataract Specialist, whose patients often have visual impairment from loss of visual field and may also require assessment by Ms Dunbar in the Low Vision Clinic.
When is the Low Vision Clinic?
Ms Dunbar has a weekly Low Vision Clinic on a Thursday morning, by appointment following a UK Ophthalmology Consultant referral.
Range of Magnifiers
COVID-19 at Clinica London
To ensure your safety and the safety of the staff, all staff are tested for COVID-19 twice weekly and our staff have been vaccinated. If you feel it is the best option for you, we are also offering video consultations to patients throughout the pandemic.