As someone living with Autosomal Dominant Optic Atrophy (ADOA) or taking care of a family member with ADOA, you know how difficult it can be to get information about rare diseases and potential treatments. Luckily, there are companies and organizations whose aim is to help provide as much information as possible to patients and their families. One such organization is the Low Vision Specialists of Maryland and Virginia (LVS).Their focus is simple yet life-changing: hope.
The mission of LVS is to empower patients and the public to be their own advocates, and to spread the word about tools and tactics that help improve the quality of life for people living with vision impairments. LVS primarily aims to improve vision through innovative medical devices. They work one on one with their patients to create telescopic or microscopic glasses, and each pair of glasses is customized to meet the individual’s goals and needs.
Dr. Thomas Azman, O.D., IALVS, lovingly nicknamed the “Miracle Eye Doctor” by his patients, is in his 44th year of practice. He is determined to change the lives of those experiencing significant or reduced vision, and always strives to give patients back their independence. During his initial patient assessments, he works with individuals to determine a goal. He has helped some individuals keep their driver’s licenses and regain their autonomy. For others, it’s as simple as wanting the ability to read a newspaper with their cup of coffee in the morning. LVS knows that there isn’t one magic fix for everyone. It’s about working closely with their patients to understand which tool in their toolbox will work best for them.
Dr. Azman’s legacy of hope and healing has influenced his sons as well, who have all joined the Low Vision Specialists in various capacities. For this familial team, an equally important part of treating patients with low vision is empowering them to become ambassadors for themselves and others. There is an education gap in the low vision community that LVS is determined to solve, and they believe the best way to help others is to spread the word.
A particularly impactful example of this occurred in Ohio. When a patient of LVS received their glasses to treat macular degeneration, they reached out to their homeowner’s insurance agency to get the glasses insured. After a few moments explaining the situation to their local insurance rep, the rep herself, Lisa, told them that her teenage son was living with low vision as well. She learned more about the organization and ultimately she drove her son from Ohio to Maryland to receive an assessment from LVS. After her son received his first pair of glasses, Lisa even received a reference from LVS to an online fundraising tool to crowd source from friends and family for the second pair of glasses. The LVS team helped her son get ready for college, and even helped her lessen the financial burden that can accompany rare disease treatments.
At ADOAA, we know that living with impaired vision doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your quality of life. By partnering with organizations such as the Low Vision Specialists, our goal is to make this community empowered, optimistic, and informed. We will continue to provide the ADOAA community with as many options and tools as possible to help you retain your independence and peace of mind. However, it’s equally if not more important for you to heed the advice of LVS and become your own low vision ambassador.