Do You Have Diabetic Retinopathy? Low Vision Care Can Help You Reclaim Your Quality of Life

Read on to learn more about how low vision care can help you maximize your remaining vision, despite your diabetic retinopathy diagnosis. When it seems like your vision loss has closed doors, low vision care can open windows to create opportunities that didn’t seem possible.

Do You Have Diabetic Retinopathy? Low Vision Care Can Help You Reclaim Your Quality of Life in Olympia

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetes can affect vision in a condition called diabetic retinopathy which usually affects both eyes. Approximately 1 out of 3 people with diabetes develops diabetic retinopathy, making it one of the leading causes of vision loss worldwide. An excess of glucose can cause damage to the very small blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, known as the retina. This can lead to all sorts of changes in the eyes varying from unnoticeable symptoms to blindness. There are different stages of this disease varying from the early stages where one can be asymptomatic through the end stage that can cause severe vision loss. There are treatment plans which can slow down or even prevent vision loss if diagnosed early enough, however vision loss that has already occurred from diabetic retinopathy cannot be regained. 

If you are suffering from visual impairment due to diabetic retinopathy and it seems as though the door has been shut on your ability to perform visual tasks, there is no need to despair. Low vision opens the door to a world of possibilities which incorporates your visual abilities that have not been lost in order to be able to enjoy your vision.

American Family Vision Clinic

What to Expect at a Low Vision Eye Exam

Low vision is a field devoted to finding solutions despite a visual impairment that is creating obstacles in the way you live your day to day life. When you come to American Family Vision Clinic for a low vision eye exam, Dr. Levi Zurcher will do a special eye exam that evaluates your remaining vision, at a distance and from close up. Additionally, your field of vision will be evaluated and your contrast sensitivity will be checked, amongst other low vision tests. You will discuss together which visual tasks you are finding challenging and Dr. Zurcher will then work with you to find solutions that will enable you to accomplish what you set out to do. 

There are a variety of visual aids that can be extremely useful to help you see despite your diabetic retinopathy diagnosis. If you have a family member or caretaker who is instrumental in helping you with your daily needs, it is highly recommended that they attend the appointment as well. It will give them the opportunity to learn more about your visual impairment so that they can understand how it impacts you functionally, enabling them to support you more effectively.

Visual Challenges Due to Diabetic Retinopathy

There are characteristic visual impairments caused by diabetic retinopathy which can be greatly helped with low vision, some include:

  • blurred vision
  • spots or lines floating in your visual field
  • decrease in color vision
  • blind spots
  • vision loss
  • difficulty with night vision
  • halos around lights

All of these visual challenges can make it very difficult for a person with diabetic retinopathy to function and accomplish tasks like they used to, prior to being diagnosed. The field of low vision offers many solutions and visual aids to allow a person with diabetic retinopathy reclaim their independence.

Visual Challenges Due to Diabetic Retinopathy
Low Vision Aids for Diabetic Retinopathy

Low Vision Aids for Diabetic Retinopathy

After the low vision eye exam, Dr. Levi Zurcher will discuss various professional solutions with you catered to your individual needs and daily tasks or activities. The visual aids range from simple household products, to special glasses and electronic devices. There are so many possibilities of low vision aids that can help you increase your quality of life and some examples will be discussed here. 

There are many different types of magnifying glasses which can help with central vision loss, such as handheld, standing or spectacle form and they can assist you to zoom in on what you’re trying to read or work on. Telescopes of different kinds are available to help you zoom in on objects that are at a distance, such as the number on a bus approaching from a distance. Filters can improve vision for a person with diabetic retinopathy by increasing contrast sensitivity and reducing glare. E-scoop glasses are a wonderful low vision aid for early stages of visual impairment as it includes many optical features that can help you reclaim your independence despite the vision loss you are experiencing. A device called a CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) has been created to enable you to scan what you’re trying to read onto a screen. The CCTV enlarges the text and can provide various features, including increasing contrast between the text and the background. 

Low Vision Aids for Diabetic Retinopathy

Low Vision Solutions

There are companies that invented cutting edge technology which they’re constantly improving, each offering their own unique visual experience that enhances your vision. Some examples include OrCam, IrisVision or eSight, just to name a few. In addition to visual aids, simply adjusting the lighting in your home appropriately, under the guidance of a professional low vision optometrist, can really make an impact on how you see. There are also some simple assistive tools, such as placing rubbery adhesive bumps, known as tactile dots, on different flat buttons around your home to help you find the buttons easier. Dr. Levi Zurcher will be happy to answer all of your questions and to find the best visual aids for you so that you can reclaim your independence and achieve what you set out to do, despite having a visual impairment due to diabetic retinopathy.

Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy

In order to understand how low vision can change lives for the better after being diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, it is essential to understand this eye condition and to know what to look out for. To learn about the different stages of diabetic retinopathy and for more information, click here

Visual Challenges Due to Diabetic Retinopathy

Common Questions

Diabetic retinopathy occurs in 1 out of 3 diabetics, making it one of the leading causes of vision loss worldwide. It causes changes to your eyes which can lead to visual impairment. The field of low vision offers many soutions to help you cope with this vision loss and reclaim your independence.
If you or a loved one suffer from vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy, it is highly advisable to schedule an appointment with a low vision optometrist who will assess both your visual abilities and your visual needs and bridge the gap between them. Low vision offers many solutions ranging from simple household products to specialty glasses and even hi-tech devices. Don't let your diabetic retinopathy diagnosis stop you from doing what you love and schedule an appointment today with a low vision optometrist who can help you improve your quality of life.
There is such a vast list of options for visual aids that can help a person with diabetic retinopathy. There are simple household items, such as tactile stickers which can help you feel buttons more easily. There are advanced optical aids, such as microscopes, telescopes or e-scoop glasses. Additionally, there are technological options such as the CCTV, OrCam and various hi-tech headsets you could wear to help you see. Please speak to your low vision optometrist to find the best options for you and your lifestyle.
Do You Have Diabetic Retinopathy? Low Vision Care Can Help You Reclaim Your Quality of Life
Dr. Zurcher cartoon


Diabetic retinopathy is a common eye disorder in which diabetes damages one's vision and it is a leading cause of vision loss worldwide. If you have a visual impairment due to diabetic retinopathy, we would be honored to work with you to find solutions and improve your quality of life with low vision care. Please call our office at (360) 491-2121 or click here to Book an Appointment for a low vision eye exam. Patients with low vision visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of low vision services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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