Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy for Patients with Low Vision

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Low vision is the term used to describe poor vision that can no longer be corrected with glasses or contact lenses or surgery. Low vision has many causes, including eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. It can also be caused by inherited eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and by stroke or traumatic brain injury.Patients who have low vision find it difficult to perform many of the important daily tasks most people take for granted. Because they can’t see well, they face difficulty reading, cooking, dressing themselves, managing their finances, and getting around at home or in unfamiliar places. They’re often forced to give up work or activities and hobbies they enjoy because of difficulty seeing.

However, patients with low vision can work with an occupational therapist to learn how to make the most of the vision they do have. Vanessa McCarthy, OTD, is an occupational therapist with Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center. She works with low vision patients to teach them how to use vision aids, adaptive technologies and other skills and strategies to help them perform daily living tasks. With practice, patients are able to live as independently as possible, rely less on family and friends for help, and enjoy a greatly improved overall quality of life. Often, they can return to doing what they find meaningful and enjoyable.

Dr. McCarthy also sees AMD patients who are part of the Implantable Miniature Telescope (by Dr. Isaac Lipshitz) CentraSight treatment program. The program helps CentraSight patients learn to maximize the vision the implant provides.

Dr. McCarthy takes a holistic approach to helping her patients by taking into account any factors that affect their independence, which in addition to low vision may include other medical conditions or cognitive or psychosocial problems. She consults with the patient and his or her family members to set occupational goals for the patient and creates a personalized plan for achieving them.

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Vanessa McCarthy, OTD

Dr. Vanessa McCarthy is an occupational therapist who specializes in the care of patients with low vision. She helps patients with poor vision caused by ocular disease or injury to maintain their independence by teaching them to use optical aids and other skills and strategies to perform important daily living tasks such as dressing and writing checks and continue to enjoy hobbies such as reading and playing cards. Her role with Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center includes working with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients who receive the Implantable Miniature Telescope (by Dr. Isaac Lipshitz) so they can maximize the vision the implant provides.

Dr. McCarthy completed advanced training, earning both a master’s degree and a doctorate in occupational therapy and from A.T. Still University. She has experience in many different practice settings with patients whose vision is compromised and not correctable with glasses or contact lenses due to AMD, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, cataracts and other conditions. She approaches patient care on a holistic level, accounting for any medical, cognitive or psychosocial barriers to independence a patient faces.

Prior to her work as an occupational therapist, Dr. McCarthy held positions in the field of finance and served as a reservist in the United States Marine Corps. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking and movies.

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