What is Low Vision and What Causes It?
Low vision means that even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine or surgery everyday visual tasks are difficult to do. It is most commonly caused by macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, but may have many other causes.
What is Low Vision Rehabilitation?
Whereas traditional eye care addresses the causes of eye conditions, vision rehabilitation addresses the consequences of eye conditions. Low vision rehabilitation cannot restore an individual’s sight, but will help him or her learn ways to use the remaining vision most effectively. This may be accomplished by one or more of the following means:
- Learning to use residual vision more efficiently; this may include instruction in the use of "off-center" vision to see more clearly
- Learning to use special optical devices such as magnifiers, magnifying spectacles, or telescopes; learning to use "high-tech" devices such as closed circuit television
- Learning to use alternative methods, such as better lighting or auditory techniques, to perform visual tasks
What Does the Low Vision Rehabilitation Program at the Dean McGee Eye Institute Involve?
- First a comprehensive low vision evaluation is performed at the Dean McGee Eye Institute low vision clinic, located in the main Institute building. It involves an assessment of the low vision patient’s visual history and his or her visual goals, as well as a review of the ocular and general health history. A complete low vision examination in which testing of a number of the components of vision beyond ones ability to read the letter chart is carried out. The findings of the interview and testing will indicate the vision aids and devices that will most likely benefit a given patient. Exploration of these will be initiated and in most cases additional rehabilitation is planned.
- The next step involves low vision rehabilitation training with an occupational therapist at the Oklahoma Assistive Technology Center, located a few blocks away from the Dean McGee Eye Institute on the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center campus. This step provides the low vision patient instruction in the use of aids and devices, but that’s not all. It also provides training in the use of effective vision and instruction in adaptive skills that will allow one to maintain or improve independence and the ability to carry out daily living activities in spite of permanent vision loss. About 3 or 4 rehabilitation sessions are usually required to accomplish these goals.
- Additional referrals to and information regarding state funded programs and other services available for visually impaired individuals may be recommended or provided as well.