UNMC center aims to help those with low vision

March is low vision awareness month

Low vision affects nearly 2.9 million Americans and is expected to double by the year 2030.

The Weigel Williamson Center for Visual Rehabilitation at the University of Nebraska Medical Center helps people with low vision adapt to the remaining vision they do have and live full lives.

People like Ann Welton, who at age 83, suffers with macular degeneration and thought she would never be able to knit or bake again.

“I’m just amazed by what I’ve learned and what is offered there,” Welton said.

Through a referral from her ophthalmologist, Welton learned how to use the remaining vision in her right eye. Now she can cook, bake and get back to knitting.

“There are different tools you can use to help enhance your remaining vision, but being adaptable and maintaining a positive attitude is a must,” Welton said.

While there are several diseases that can cause low vision, the most common are diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration, said John Shepherd, M.D., director of the center.

“There are currently no cures for the eye diseases that cause low vision,” Dr. Shepherd said. “There are different avenues of treatment that can equip individuals to function better with their remaining sight.”

The goal of the Weigel Williamson Center, he said, is to help individuals maximize their residual vision by using devices, technology, training and counseling so they can regain their independence and lead active lives.

Low vision professionals can develop and implement a rehabilitation plan that identifies strategies and assistive devices appropriate for a person’s particular needs. Vision rehabilitation services include training to use adaptive devices, such as reading machines, bioptic lenses and lighted magnifiers, as well as teaching new daily living skills.

Also, patients like Welton, whose center vision is obstructed due to macular degeneration, are taught how to use their peripheral vision.

“I’ve handed out brochures and told friends about the center,” Welton said. “People need to know that there is help.”

For more information about the Weigel Williamson Center call 402.559.2463 or visit the website at: www.unmc.edu/lowvision.

Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu.


Lisa Spellman
UNMC Public Relations
(402) 559-4353