What is Low Vision?
A diagnosis of low vision is given if an individual’s vision is 20/60 with correction of eyeglasses, contact lenses, or lens implants. This decrease in vision will affect an individual’s activities of daily living such as reading food and medication labels, writing a check, balancing a checkbook, driving a car, operating a computer, preparing a meal, or reading a train schedule.
For a considerable number of older persons, low vision is their primary physical impairment. However, because of the impact of low vision on the performance of activities of daily living, many older adults with low vision find they must enter retirement and residential care facilities or reside with their children.
What Does legal blindness mean?
This is a non-medical term used by the government for income tax purposes. A certain visual acuity, or visual field measurement, is used to determine if a person is qualified for this status. The majority of this population has some remaining vision, and can make effective use of that sight with appropriate low vision devices.
What are low vision devices?
Low vision devices or visual aids can be as simple as a bold line pen or as complex as a closed circuit television which magnifies text. Anything including modifications that helps a person compensate for low vision is considered a low vision device or visual aid.
Will devices cure my vision?
NO! The use of devices will only allow you to use your vision more effectively. With practice and use, the adaptive equipment and techniques may increase your independence in daily activities.
Will using low vision devices hurt my eyes?
NO! Using low vision devices will enhance vision, not harm your eyes. Using your eyes and low vision devices make it possible to perform tasks that otherwise would not be possible.
Do all people who have low vision become blind?
NO! Most people with low vision will continue to have useable sight for the remainder of their lives. It is important to continue routine eye examinations and follow the advice of your physicians. Many eye conditions can be progressive without appropriate treatment.
Are there many people with low vision in America?
YES! Recent reports from the United States Census Bureau indicate that nearly 13 million Americans, over the age of 15, have problems reading newsprint, even with glasses. Although the majority of this population consists of adults, children may also be affected.
Can a low vision evaluation help me?
YES! A low vision evaluation is comprised of many factors. People with a reduction in vision, which affects their daily life, can benefit from a low vision exam. This exam can include: Contrast sensitivity, lighting conditions, glare, optical devices and personal motivation. With the evaluation the physician can determine possible changes that may affect quality of vision.
Will I hurt my eyes by holding the print too close?
NO! Written materials that may require you holding them closer to see may feel awkward but it will not hurt your eyes. Eyes, like feet, get tired with use and may need a rest after a workout.
Will I hurt my eyes by sitting too close to the TV?
NO! Sitting even as close as one foot away from your television will not hurt your eyes. Moving closer to your TV can be an inexpensive and effective way to see it better.
Evidence of Treatment
Guidelines of Occupational Therapy treatment must be medically necessary; meaning that the individual’s ability to complete necessary Activities of Daily Living (cooking, driving, cleaning, dressing) has been greatly compromised by the vision loss and there are reasonable expectations that the individual’s functional ability will improve with therapy.
The Occupational Therapy Evaluation focuses on assessing the functional limitations experienced by the individual due to the vision loss and determining how the individual is best able to use remaining vision to complete daily activities.
Occupational Therapy treatment emphasizes training the individual to use remaining vision as efficiently and effectively as possible to complete daily activities and includes training in use of optical devices.
Service Provided in a Low Vision Rehabilitation Program
Service is covered through a Physician Referral for Occupational Therapy.