Categories: ConditionsHelpful Tips

Vision Rehabilitation Services- Offering Hope to Patients with Low Vision

Q&A with Dr. Rachel Young, Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology

Rachel Young, OD, offers vision rehabilitation services
Rachel Young, OD, offers vision rehabilitation services

What is low vision and who qualifies?

Those who suffer from low vision experience a dramatic decrease in quality of life, as a result of decreased visual acuity, contrast sensitivity or poor visual fields. Generally, patients who have a visual acuity of 20/70 or worse in the better seeing eye, restricted visual fields, are no longer able to correct their vision through prescription glasses, contact lenses or medical intervention qualify as a low vision patient. Many serious eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and retinitis pigmentosa can cause low vision.

What does quality of life mean?

Quality of life is an indicator of how well an individual is able to effectively and independently carry out daily activities such as driving, reading, cooking and cleaning. It is not just about reading the small print, those who suffer from low vision can experience depression and anxiety without some form of intervention.

What is low vision rehabilitation?

At the USC Roski Eye Institute we believe in a personalized-care approach. Each patient I meet will have a customized plan according to his or her own unique lifestyle. General components such as determination of difficulties in activities of daily life, functional vision and visual field assessments are all a part of the initial evaluation. Based on the results, we will devise a plan that is best suited for you, which may include visual aids as well as counseling or training to improve quality of life.

What kind of treatments or devices are available?

After determining an appropriate eyeglass prescription and other factors such as contrast sensitivity, I discuss with the patient which device or assistive technology would be best suited to enhance their ability to perform daily tasks. I train patients on how to use devices offered by the eye institute such as magnifiers or telescopes. As well, I teach patients how to use assistive technologies like cell phones or tablets. USC Roski Eye Institute has also had a long-standing relationship with visual aid partners and many community organizations to offer additional resources.

Are there changes we can make now to improve our quality of life with low vision?

There are many things you can do to navigate and perform tasks better on a daily basis. You can find several tips on our website but here are a few things you can try:

  1. Improve lighting and never work in a dark room
  2. To reduce glare use shades or covers for shiny surfaces
  3. Color code things
  4. Use scissors in the kitchen in place of knives
  5. Use pill organizers for medication
  6. Download menus on your tablet before going to the restaurant
  7. Order large print labels from the pharmacy, financial statements or checks
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