April 10, 2009

Program aids macular degeneration patients

People with macular degeneration are being taught to read using the undamaged parts of their eyes, says a vision specialist in Britain.

Macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness, causes central vision to be lost but peripheral vision to remain intact.

A program developed by Britain's Macular Disease Society teaches people to regain basic skills they thought they had lost for good, said Tom Bremridge, a spokesman for the society.

People with macular degeneration can be taught to fill in vision gaps by looking above, below or to one side of it, Bremridge told the BBC in a story published Friday.

Instead of moving the eyes from left to right to read a sentence, the patient keeps his eyes still and moves the text so that each word is moved into the area of best vision, he said.

We have 86 volunteer trainers, all with central vision loss themselves, who have trained more than 310 people in their own communities and our waiting list of nearly 1,200 people grows every day, Bremridge said to the BBC.