Helping Patients Read Music


Presented is a case study of Dr. Long's macular degeneration patient using special telescopic glasses to play the dulcimer. Discussed further are methods which he employs to help patients with low vision play an instrument and read their music.

This sweet patient (see photo) brought her dulcimer, music stand, clip-on lamp, and sheet music so that we could accurately recreate her set-up. She has macular degeneration and sees 20/150 with her dominant right eye and 20/50 with her left eye with no basic glasses correction being necessary. Due to a “binocular rivalry” she actually sees better with her right eye occluded or fogged. She needs to see her strings at 14″ and her music at 22″ to 24″.  Continue below for more on how we reached her low vision goal of seeing her instrument and music at the same time!

Dr. Long's low vision patient using special telescopic glasses to play the dulcimer
Macular Degeneration Patient using Special Telescopic Glasses to Play the Dulcimer

1. She was using enlarged music, or in her case “tabs” for the dulcimer, which she was writing out by hand in bold large print.

2. Even with her handwritten tabs and a +2.00 spherical glasses prescription (19.5″ focal length) she was not seeing adequately.

3. As seen in the photo, our solution was a pair of wide-angle bioptic telescopic glasses, left eye only, with a +2.75 spherical carrier (14″ focal length) and a +4.75 spherical telescope eyepiece (24″ focal length) and no angle of inclination (i.e., no upwards tilt).

4. “This is going to work! I can see at least three bars wide at a time!” We ordered a plano lens for the right eye and will supply a lens-clip that she can use as needed to occlude her right eye in case she is unable to suppress it.

Thank you and please share our information with your patients or loved ones with vision loss. While we see most of our patients by referral, all calls are welcome to see if we can help. Call 1-877-577-2040 and speak with me or our lead low vision technician, Holly.