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Dr. Jessica Broodrÿk | Insight From A Low Vision Specialist

Doctor Jess is standing in front of a Bailey - Lovie Chart. This eye chart was designed specifically for patients who have low vision and can be moved to test at any distance. She is wearing a black polo shirt with the logo for the Children’s Low Vision Project through Lighthouse for the Blind - St. Louis.

Dr. Jessica Broodrÿk | Insight From A Low Vision Specialist

Contents

So in the low vision exam, we’re very goal-oriented. So patients will come in saying that they want to be able to read the newspaper or see their computer better at work for different specific tasks that they’re having difficulty with. And then we sort of problem solve and find different tools and resources for them to be able to do those things.

~Dr. Jessica Broodrÿk

Editor’s Note:

According to Cleveland Clinic, Low vision is vision loss that can’t be corrected with glasses, contacts or surgery. It isn’t blindness as limited sight remains. Low vision can include blind spots, poor night vision and blurry sight. The most common causes are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetes. Visual aids can help people with low vision.

In the early years of my sight loss I didn’t know about low vision nor that I could have benefitted from a low vision evaluation. So when I connected with low vision specialist, Dr. Jessica Broodrÿk, on Instagram I knew Bold Blind Beauty had to share her story.

Dr. Jess is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about her work. In her video, she talks about her role at her job and then explains what she does as a low vision optometrist.

Sight loss isn’t easy and I’m so grateful for professionals like Dr. Jess who work with their patients to help them sustain their independence and quality life. Below Dr. Jess’ video is the transcription for those who prefer to read. Additionally, if you are interested in how you can live a fulfilling life with low vision check out this article: Living Boldly With Low Vision. Enjoy! ~Steph

Beyond Sight Magazine Cover

Dr. Jessica Broodrÿk is standing in front of a Bailey - Lovie Chart. This eye chart was designed specifically for patients who have low vision and can be moved to test at any distance. She is wearing a black polo shirt with the logo for the Children’s Low Vision Project through Lighthouse for the Blind - St. Louis. Text on the cover reads “Beyond Sight March 2022 | Cane EnAbled |  Dr. Jessica Broodrÿk.”

YouTube Video

Introducing Dr. Jess

Hi, I’m Dr. Jessica Broodrÿk and today I’m here to share with you a little bit about the work that I do to help people with blindness and low vision. So I am an optometrist who specializes in low vision.

A little bit about my background, I graduated from the University of Missouri St. Louis College of Optometry in May of 2020, which was a really interesting time to graduate and sort of enter the workforce. From there, I did a low vision and ocular disease residency at the UC Berkeley School of Optometry in California. There, I really got a lot of experience working with patients with low vision and it really just fueled that passion and desire to keep serving this community.

Lighthouse for the Blind St. Louis

So now that I’m finished with residency, I serve patients with low vision at two different locations. The first of these locations is the Lighthouse for the Blind in St. Louis, here, I have the opportunity to be a part of two of their programs, which is really fun and exciting. The first program is the Children’s Low Vision Project. With this project, we actually travel and we get to serve almost the entire state of Missouri.

So we try to go out to the underserved, more rural areas and make sure that our students with visual impairment there are getting the services that they need. We serve ages two to 22, so we see a wide range of different conditions and visual needs. And I work with teachers of students with visual impairment in this role. So those teachers do a lot of the follow-up care and make sure that the students get all their devices and everything like that.

As far as my role goes, I pretty much do three different things.

  • The first thing I do is the low vision examination. Here I’m looking at the student’s visual acuity, their contrast, sensitivity, their visual field,
  • I do a reading assessment.
  • And I also check color vision on most of my patients from there, depending on their level of vision, and I’ll recommend different devices.

So sometimes we’re looking at monocular telescopes for distance viewing, we also look at magnification for up close. And we evaluate a lot of different electronic options, which is sort of the direction that a lot of education is going right now. So that’s really the fun and exciting part.

I also get to work for the employees at the Lighthouse for the Blind. So the Lighthouse employs a lot of people with blindness or visual impairment to work in their facilities. And they manufacture all kinds of devices, from adhesives and aerosols to medical devices. So it’s really a cool thing to be a part of, and employees are really great to work with.

For the employees, I’m doing similar things as I’m doing for the students. So I will evaluate their vision, get an idea of how they’re functioning. And then we sit down and talk about it, I always go through the results of the examination. And we look at devices that teachers have students with visual impairment or TVI is as you might hear them be called, they will actually go with the employee to their workstation and find ways to make it more accessible. They’ll try all the devices in their work environment, which is really a special thing that they’re able to do.

Doctor Jess with magnifiers - Doctor Jess is holding a display of several types of handheld magnifiers. She is wearing a black polo shirt with the logo for the Children’s Low Vision Project through Lighthouse for the Blind - St. Louis.

St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired

The other location I work at is St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Here, I get to work with occupational therapists, which is a really great opportunity. So I’ll do my low vision evaluation, we’ll look at some devices. And then the occupational therapists will train the patients on the devices. They also do training on preferential looking and cooking adaptations, all kinds of different lifestyle adaptations, which is really cool to see them work and to have that partnership. So in both of my roles, I’m doing similar things.

There’s three main things that I do as a low vision optometrist:

  1. The first thing is to assess a patient’s functional vision and give them some concrete numbers. Often, they’ll just be told things like their vision is count fingers or hand motion. So I really like to have different tests where I can give them a specific number to track over time, even if that number is really high, like 20 over 5000. I always sit down and talk with my patients about the numbers that we get, and make sure that I’m educating them on what this means and the functional impact it will have for their vision.
  2. The second thing that I do is recommend devices. So in the low vision exam, we’re very goal-oriented. So patients will come in saying that they want to be able to read the newspaper or see their computer better at work for different specific tasks that they’re having difficulty with. And then we sort of problem solve and find different tools and resources for them to be able to do those things.
  3. The last thing that I do is provide written documentation and point them towards the resources. So the written documentation includes everything from statements of legal blindness so that they can get benefits that they’re entitled to, to school letters for recommendations for accommodations.

    So for my students, I will always write them a letter that has detailed instructions on how they can be best helped in the classroom for their vision. These recommendations are often taken to their IEP or 504 plan meeting, where they can sit down with their teachers and really make sure that they’re getting all the services and accommodations they need.

Resources

As far as resources, there are all kinds of things to recommend, it really varies by state. But sometimes I’m providing you know, free audiobook resources, information about low vision, and driving for patients who are a good candidate for that, work programs for anyone who has acquired vision loss and wants to go back to work, and sort of learn how to adapt to their vision loss. So there’s really just a lot out there and it’s a really fun, exciting world to be a part of.

I’m really passionate about helping people with all levels of vision loss, live their fullest, most independent lives. And I’m really excited to see where the next few years will take me and how this journey is gonna progress. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I’m sure that my Instagram handle is going to be listed in the description but it’s easy to find me. It’s at eye doctor Jess, and I’m happy to answer any of your questions if you just send me a message.

Dr. Jess Bio:

Dr. Jessica Broodrÿk is a graduate from the University of Missouri – St. Louis College of Optometry, class of 2020. She completed the Ian L. Bailey Low Vision and Ocular Disease Residency at UC Berkeley School of Optometry. She enjoys providing compassionate care to patients with all
levels of vision and is dedicated to empowering people to live their fullest, most independent lives. On her days off you can find her hiking, practicing yoga, and spending time with her husband and three dogs.

Connecting With Dr. Jess

Image Descriptions:

  • The header, Beyond Sight Magazine, and YouTube thumbnail photos are identical and show Doctor Jess standing in front of a Bailey – Lovie Chart. This eye chart was designed specifically for patients who have low vision and can be moved to test at any distance. She is wearing a black polo shirt with the logo for the Children’s Low Vision Project through Lighthouse for the Blind – St. Louis. Text on the cover reads “Beyond Sight March 2022 | Cane EnAbled | Dr. Jessica Broodrÿk.”
  • YouTube Video Description – In the video, Dr. Jess is standing in front of a white wall with a shelf containing three plants in decorative containers. She’s wearing a black short-sleeve button-up shirt and her long wavy blonde hair is cascading over both shoulders.
  • Doctor Jess with magnifiers – Doctor Jess is holding a display of several types of handheld magnifiers. She is wearing a black polo shirt with the logo for the Children’s Low Vision Project through Lighthouse for the Blind – St. Louis.
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