BLIND SERVICES (LOW VISION REHABILITATION)
Blind services, Low vision, poor vision, vision rehab refers to irreversible vision loss that is not correctable by standard glasses, contacts, refractive surgery, or medicine. Diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and glaucoma are the most common conditions that lead to low vision.
Our primary goal is to help people from 1-101 maximize the functional vision that is remaining. Although there are terms like legal blindness, it often does a disservice; many times there is quite a bit of functional vision remaining!
Through comprehensive low vision rehabilitation, patients with low vision are trained to maximize the vision they do have. Assistive devices, optical devices and training can enhance how patients use their vision to: maximize their independence, better their quality of life, and improve function at a very high level.
Who gets Low Vision?
Low vision occurs due to an ocular (eye) condition, and contrary to popular belief affects individuals from birth to age 101. Ocular conditions can be congenital (present from birth) or acquired; the most common low vision conditions also differ by age group.
The most common congenital low vision conditions include: Oculocutaneous albinism, Optic nerve hypoplasia and Retinopathy of prematurity.
The most common low vision conditions of patients between 20-40 years of age are: Stargardt’s macula dystrophy, Retinitis pigmentosa, and maculopathies.
The National Eye Institute in a 2010 study found that in the U.S., Diabetic retinopathy (7.6 million people), Glaucoma (2.7 million people) and Age-related macula degeneration (2 million people) are the top 3 acquired ocular conditions that cause visual impairment. As our population continues to age, the prevalence of these conditions are expected to increase and as a result, an increase of individuals who are visually impaired.
Common Complaints and Difficulties
There are many difficulties with activities of daily living (ADLs) for a person with a visual impairment. The difficulties can be divided into four main types:
- Near vision
- Distance vision
- Intermediate vision
- Mobility concerns
First, near vision difficulties include: trouble reading the newspaper, books, novels, restaurant menus, crossword puzzles, sudoku, pictures, and photos (of children, grandchildren, grandkids, loved ones.)
Second, distance vision complaints and difficulties include: trouble seeing the TV, people, faces, cars, street signs, traffic signals, sight seeing, and sporting events.
Third, intermediate vision difficulties include: trouble seeing the computer, iPad, phone (iPhone, Android, smartphone), seeing music sheet, playing music, cooking, knitting and crocheting.
Last, mobility concerns and difficulties include: trouble seeing street signs, traffic signs, street curbs, the sidewalk, furniture, and stairs.
- In many states, the use of bioptic telescopes are allowed to meet the vision requirements for driving. But in general, if you are legally blind with your most recent or updated glasses or contact lenses, you are not able to pass the vision requirements for driving.
- Being able to drive with bioptics is not as simple as your Low vision doctor giving you the glasses and waving farewell. An extensive evaluation is often needed including adequate training time with your Low vision doctor or a Certified occupational therapist, followed by a behind the wheel training and evaluation, and then testing with the DMV or state trooper.
- Florida is one of the states that allow use of bioptics while driving, however it cannot be used to meet the vision requirements for driving.
- Biopticdrivingusa.com is a great source of information.
- Legally blind ≠ Functionally blind. A common misconception is that people who are legally blind have no vision.
- Legally blind = worse than 20/100 vision with best corrected glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. This term is often misused.
- A regular eye exam or a routine eye exam is a comprehensive eye exam for people with no eye diseases! If you have an eye condition or disease, a medical eye exam and / or specialty eye exam is required, such as a low vision evaluation.