Get to know Dr. Taylor Bowman – Our Low Vision Specialist
What is it like in your hometown in Pennsylvania?
My hometown was pretty small. My high school has a farm basically in its backyard.
You played sports in college. How has that influenced you?
I’ve played sports since I was around 7 or 8. My dad coached my soccer team for nearly a decade, so soccer was my first love. When I was old enough to play sports at school I played field hockey and lacrosse. Field hockey is really big in Pennsylvania. Half of the Olympic team is from PA – I had played with or against 3 of them.
I knew I wanted to play sports in college. It really helped with time management and was a great stress relief. I love being part of a team and learning my teammates’ strengths and weaknesses so we can help one another out.
You said you were drawn to Cheyenne and the outdoor recreation here. What have you done so far? Where do you plan to explore next?
I have been to Vedauwoo and Curt Gowdy so far but would love to climb a 14er soon. I have also been biking a few times with a cycling group here, and of course, I’ve run on the Greenway trail! I participated in the Lion’s Club Ride for Sight (which our clinic sponsored) and will do the Run the Legend Half Marathon in September. I’m still recovering from my last marathon, otherwise, I would have probably chosen the full marathon. I will be having my snowboard shipped here so I can snowboard in the winter, and I plan on purchasing a kayak so I can spend time outside on the water.
Do you have any other hobbies that you’d like to tell us about?
Besides running and biking, I also enjoy Crossfit – though I’m relatively new to the sport. I would love to foster kittens again, but living in an apartment complicates that situation. I also enjoy arts and crafts in general. I have started making things on a loom to prepare for winter in Cheyenne!
Your grandfather was an influence in your decision to become a doctor. Can you tell us about him? How did you help him?
I am really close to my grandparents, but my Grandpa especially. He will still answer his phone when I call and ask if he is talking to “his princess” (he addresses my Christmas and birthday cards to “Princess” as well). He’s 91 years young, a World War II Veteran and one of the most pleasant men you could hope to encounter. You aren’t going to get away with meeting him without giving him a hug, and if you’re really lucky he’ll sing a song for you, too.
When I was in optometry school, I started learning about low vision and thought about my Grandpa and what he was experiencing. I asked him if he’d ever seen a low vision optometrist, and he didn’t even know what that was. I told him to request a low vision appointment with the VA, so he did. Now he owns a few devices, including a large video magnifier. He was so amazed he could see bills, checks and magazines … then I showed him he could put Christmas cards under the video magnifier to see people’s faces, and he was just so excited! It is such a good feeling, giving him back that ability. That’s when I knew low vision was the route I wanted to take.
You worked with Veterans in Kentucky during your residency. What did you learn from working with them?
I learned so much from my residency; it is difficult to put it into words. The Veterans were most definitely my favorite population of patients. Not only were they super appreciative of everything you did for them, they were also so patient with you if you ran behind, needed additional tests ordered, or if you took a little extra time because a student was working with us. They knew we were not permanent doctors and expected to see someone new the next time, but they took a general interest in our lives, where we came from and where we were going next.
Can you tell us what low vision is, and how it differs from other specialties?
Low vision can be any vision that prevents a person from being able to perform an activity that they would like to do. Although technically the vision range of “low vision” starts at 20/70, I have given patients devices that they’ve found helpful with vision at 20/30. Other factors (like difficulty with contrast or poor peripheral vision) can also lead an individual to seek low vision care.
Low vision differs from other specialties in many ways. It’s typically a longer, slower exam that is goal-oriented. The patient helps determine how much or how little will be performed. Other specialties may help try to prevent or reverse vision loss, but low vision care is for individuals who want to get the most out of what vision remains. Low vision is not about offering a magic solution to restore vision, but rather helps to ensure that individuals with vision loss can still maintain their quality of life.
Who should come to see you, and why?
Anyone who feels their vision does not meet their needs for an activity they would like to do should come to see me. There are many times patients feel hopeless when they learn that nothing can be done to restore their vision. Low vision care allows patients to work with various devices that are meant to help improve their vision. Low vision is not about restoring vision back to normal, but rather learning to make the most out of the functioning vision they have left.
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