Many people facing eye problems tell us they want to ask their doctors whether they should purchase reading aids. I suspect ten different doctors might address this question ten different ways.

Having been in the patient chair with many eye doctors, and having worked in low vision with many more, I think the question to the doctor, whether to purchase reading aids, is unfair to them and not helpful to you. I say this in candor because the question masks, I believe, the more fundamental inquiry: “Will I get better?” That is the question to ask.

The reason I say this is that your doctor has spent enormous effort, an entire career, to understand the inner workings of the organs and complex circulatory structure of the eyes, the different pathologies and treatments, how well treatments work, the new research and what it portends. Doctors’ reflexes are medically wired to this frame of reference. They also may not be aware of what tools are like today. Your doctor also sees dozens of patients each day, every one of them a unique individual. Their focus is not usually on what it is like being you as you get up each morning and do whatever it is that you need to do.

I believe the question about vision aids is more a question to ask yourself, about what your world is like, now versus a year ago, for example, or how tasks that you need to perform, want to perform, happen easily or with increasing difficulty. Are you stressed, frustrated, on a daily basis?

Indeed, before investing in a new CCTV, I believe it is smart to know whether your doctor thinks your vision will improve, and perhaps even more helpful, how much, and in what time period, and for how long. The doctor may or may not have a definitive answer for you, but ask.

At the same time, it is equally smart to ask yourself, while your doctor is focused on medicine, if your everyday life and independent spirit could be helped by trying tools that might help you do things with greater ease.

Ken and I realized in a recent conversation about this topic that in fourteen years and thousands of customer relationships, we have never had a return of equipment because someone’s vision for the reading they cared about improved so much that they no longer needed their reading machine. Mostly, people express relief that they are using more fully the vision they have for new ways of reading and writing that carry fewer struggles. It is also like having an insurance policy on the future. My own eyes have actually strengthened recently, but take away my magnification aids and my struggles begin anew.