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At the IRIS Centre we offer LOW VISION ASSESSMENTS to find out if magnifiers, lighting, or electronic aids can help you. If they can, we can supply them - some at no charge if you live in the central Cheshire area.

Many people especially older people suffer from poor vision which cannot be corrected by normal glasses or contact lenses. There are a variety of causes for this, and it is always best to visit your High Street optician or your GP to get an accurate diagnosis and to find out whether the condition can be improved or corrected by medical intervention. Some of these eye conditions, such as cataracts, can be treated by relatively simple surgical techniques, whilst others can be helped by new drug therapies. In some cases it may be important to get a speedy diagnosis, as treatment may have to be provided quickly.

In a large number of cases poor vision cannot be corrected by either new glasses or by medical intervention, and people in this position are said to be suffering from low vision. Typical eye diseases where this is the case include:

• Age related macular degeneration (AMD) which is caused by deterioration of the macula, at the back of the retina, and affects the central vision. It can lead to difficulties with reading, colour awareness and undertaking detailed work.

Age related Macular Degeneration simulation

• Glaucoma which is caused by an increase of pressure in the eye from a build-up of excess fluid which, if treated speedily, can very often be controlled by special eye drops. Where glaucoma is advanced it leads to the loss of peripheral vision causing 'tunnel vision' and glare can become a problem.

Glaucoma simulation

• Diabetic retinopathy is associated with diabetes types 1 and 2, and is caused by blood vessels supplying the retina being damaged. Whole areas of vision may be lost, or clarity of vision may be affected by grey or black blotches.

Diabetic Retinopathy simulation

• Cataracts occur when the lens in the eye becomes cloudy, restricting the access of light to the retina. They result in a loss of visual clarity for all activities, can cause problems with focusing and may create difficulties with bright lights. The most effective treatment is a relatively simple operation to replace the cloudy lens.

Cataract simulation

The diseases which can cause low vision can be very distressing for sufferers, and can cause depression and anxiety, a loss of confidence in going out, and frustration at being unable to read books, magazines, correspondence or personal mail . In many cases, however, low vision services can help by teaching people simple techniques to use the residual vision they have, and how to use magnifiers, lighting and other aids to help in this process.

IRIS provides low vision services, and has the largest stock of low vision aids in Cheshire. Assessments, which are friendly and non intrusive, are undertaken by our own staff either at our Resource Centre in Chapel Street Crewe or at our outreach service at the offices of Age Concern Cheshire in Hartford, near Northwich (for directions contact or ring 01606 881660) . For clients with a mobility problem we can undertake assessments in your own home if you would prefer this.

The service is provided free to residents in the area covered by the Central Cheshire Primary Care Trust under our contract with them, and magnifiers are also provided free on long-term loan. Residents outside this area can take advantage of the service but will be required to pay for the assessment and any magnifiers supplied. Other equipment which may be helpful is also available for sale in our Resource Room.

To make an appointment for a low vision assessment contact the IRIS Vision Resource Centre on (01270) 250316, or visit us at 14 Chapel Street Crewe CW2 7DQ. You can also contact us by e-mail: We will aim to make an appointment to see you within 2 weeks of you contacting us.

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