Sanford Health introduces new way of seeing for low-vision patients

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) – A Fargo woman struggling with macular degeneration is looking for devices to make her life easier.

Roberta LeClerc was diagnosed with macular degeneration in 2019 and simple tasks have become impossible as her vision progressively becomes clouded through time.

“It’s a tough thing to accept because first of all, you lose the ability to drive a car which takes away a lot of your freedom. You have to depend on other people to take you whenever you wanna go and during COVID that was bad. Because you weren’t supposed to be with other people, so I never could just jump in the car and go off by myself,” says Leclerc.

Those who have low vision emphasize taking care of your eyes and if you have a condition, to be aware of your current process.

“For families of people with macular, I can’t stress enough the importance of watching their progression and making sure that you’re there to help, you’re there to take any burden off of them because it’s so frustrating to first of all age and then age and not be able to do simple tasks,” says Roberta’s daughter, Ann.

Sanford Health is allowing patients to use a new device to help those with low vision see things more clearly. The IrisVision arrived at Sanford Health last week and is already making an impact for the ones using them who have certain degenerative eye conditions.

“I have many more gadgets that I can use now, the main one now is the Iris, and I am really just learning how to do that,” says Roberta LeClerc.

While it’s not covered by insurance, experts say it’s the best way to ensure clear vision when the usual options won’t help.

“For some people, different conditions like macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, all across the board many conditions, glasses just aren’t enough. So, kind of like virtual reality-type assistive technology can magnify things and help with contrast to help people see things better,” says Dr. Ann Breen, an optometrist at Sanford Health.

And a service within the library is helping Roberta and other patients with low vision help them get their entertainment fix.

“North Dakota Talking Books, I believe it saved her mental health, especially during the pandemic. I was with her about seven months during the pandemic and those talking books, I can’t even tell you how important it is to her,” says Ann Leclerc.

Categories: Community, Health, Local News, North Dakota News