Errol Rummel, O.D. (right), Director of the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation and Visual Perception Clinic at Bacharach, specializes in the care of patients with difficult or unusual vision problems. This includes adult and pediatric eye muscle problems, amblyopia (lazy eye), low vision care for visually impaired patients (due to macular degeneration), diabetic retinopathy and retinitis pigmentosa. He also has an expertise in treating neurologically-related vision problems due to stroke, head injury or multiple sclerosis.
Side vision loss, or hemianopsia, is one of the most common side effects of a stroke or traumatic brain injury, causing disorientation and difficulties with common day-to-day activities. Many people afflicted by hemianopsia find it hard to go about their daily routine. They may become afraid to leave the house for fear of bumping into objects or other people, causing injury or embarrassment.
To address this issue, Dr. Rummel invented Side Vision Awareness Glasses that allow patients to see about 15˚ to 20˚ more than they normally would. The glasses do not restore lost vision, but instead allow patients to more easily see in the direction of the vision loss. They work because of a prism built into the eyeglass lens that reflects objects normally outside the patient’s field of vision.
“The key here is for safety issues to be resolved so patients can resume the actions of their daily lives,” says Dr. Rummel. Most people treated with Side Vision Awareness Glasses are able to resume daily activities, and some patients do so well that they can learn to drive safely.
Dr. Rummel also developed a training program to increase the effectiveness of Side Vision Awareness Glasses. Therapy encourages eye and head movements to the affected side. Some exercises include having the patient walk around the room in the direction of the affected side, teaching the patient to use closed-eye scanning movements toward this side, and having the patient use a flashlight aimed alternately toward each foot while walking to enhance vision with visual-motor reinforcement. Once the patient has learned to scan in the direction of the hemianopsia, the Side Vision Awareness Glasses can be used to help compensate for vision loss.
Other methods that Dr. Rummel (pictured at right with with Samantha Adams, OT, who works with him in the vision clinic) has developed to treat hemianopsia include the Rummel Hemianopsia Reading Guide and the Rummel Hemianopsia Button. Usually, occupational therapists draw a red line down the side of a page when teaching a patient to read fully across a line of print. The Reading Guide gives the therapist a more definitive and professional way to teach a patient to scan from one side of the page to the other. The Hemianopsia Button is an obvious visual marker that lets others know the side (laterally or vertically) of the patient’s vision loss. Whether approaching a patient for treatment, talking to the patient, or offering the patient a food tray, the button reminds staff, friends and family to approach the patient from the seeing side.
“I had suffered massive strokes and could no longer function with day-to-day activities,” said one of Dr. Rummel’s patients. “My vision loss had been so severe, I was not able to see a plate to eat meals or even take steps without walking into walls. Thanks to Dr. Rummel, I can now move around without bumping into things and I have vision so I can watch television again.”
Dr. Rummel is Board Certified in Vision Therapy/Vision Development by the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, where he is also a Fellow. Dr. Rummel is one of the few optometric physicians to have achieved Clinical Skills Certification Level 3 in Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation by the International Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association. He is one of less than a dozen eye doctors in the United States who is certified in both of these areas of optometric care.
To learn more about the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation and Visual Perception Clinic at Bacharach, visit Dr. Rummel’s website at neurooptometricrehabnj.com.