Low Vision & Vision Rehabilitation
The inability to perform daily tasks makes life extremely difficult. Find out whether you need a low vision consultation, what to expect during an evaluation, and what vision rehabilitation can do for you.
Low vision rehabilitation (LVR) therapy helps patients regain some independence in such activities as reading, paying bills, recognizing faces, maintaining balance and walking, enjoying hobbies, returning to work, managing household tasks, driving, and classroom participation.
Low vision specialists provide care and advice to their patients. They supply a variety of visual enhancement devices to help you (or your loved one) maintain independence and quality of life.
Do you need a low vision consultation?
- Does your vision affect your daily living?
- Do you have problems with homemaking (e.g., cooking, shopping, spills in the kitchen, finding things in the house)?
- Are you having difficulty with grooming, dressing, applying makeup, shaving?
- Do you find yourself falling or nearly falling, slipping, or bumping into things?
- Are you having trouble walking or getting around?
- Is it hard to read?
- Are you having difficulty with medication, pills, or eye drops?
- Have you had to give up hobbies?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions or are having other difficulties due to vision problems, you may benefit from a low vision consultation. You’ll receive an evaluation of the functional problems caused by vision loss focused on your personal vision needs and goals. The doctor then determines what devices may help you perform tasks you find difficult. Private insurance and Medicare often cover the cost.
Download and print the one-page low vision consultation questionnaire, complete the questionnaire, and take it to your appointment.
What to Expect During a Low Vision Evaluation
An appointment for a low vision evaluation with the Indiana University School of Optometry low vision rehabilitation team is one of the most important appointments you can make for improving your ability to see. To get the most from the examination, first you must realize your lost vision cannot be restored. This is a rehabilitation process. That means you are going to be taught how to effectively use your remaining vision.
We can help you in three different ways:
- By teaching you to use your remaining vision more efficiently through eye movement skills.
- By showing you how to perform tasks with the aid of alternative measures such as better lighting, high contrast, enlarged print, and auditory or hearing techniques.
- By teaching you how to use special optical devices such as magnifiers, spectacle microscopes, and telescopes. These will improve your ability to see detail but may require you to hold material close to your eyes or see through only a small field of view. The benefits, however, usually far outweigh the limitations if you are truly motivated to see.
Preparing for Your Appointment
Please think about specific problems you are having at home, work, or school because of your failing vision. These may include problems with reading, watching TV, getting around, playing cards, sewing, knitting, woodworking, or other social and recreational activities. Some of these problems may not be helped by the options available, but we cannot try to help unless we know what your specific problems are.
Think about those things that you would like to see and do better. Start to think in terms of goals. It will be helpful to write down problem areas or have the person reading this write them down for you—along with the goals you hope to attain.
The initial evaluation may last 1.5 to 2 hours, so please plan for this extended visit. Make sure you schedule around your medications and meals, and select a time when you feel your vision is at its best.
What to bring to the evaluation
Bring any glasses or magnifying glasses you are presently using. If you have any special materials (such as forms, books, needlepoint, and so forth) you want to be able to work with, bring them to the evaluation as well. This is particularly important for material you use at work or school, or for hobbies you wish to pursue.
Things to remember
This will be your initial visit. We may need to see you several times to make sure that you are getting the best prescription for your eyes and that the goals you want to accomplish are attained.
Keep in mind through this experience that the best low vision service occurs when you form a partnership with us, one where you and we (your doctors) understand your goals and work together to attain them.
Download a printable version of What to Expect During a Low Vision Evaluation.
What can vision rehab do for you?
Optical devices that enlarge text and increase contrast expand reading ability. Vision therapy can improve eccentric viewing (EV), a technique to move blind spots out of the way, and can improve scanning abilities.
- Prism glasses
- Vision therapy—eccentric viewing (EV)
- Closed circuit television (CCTV)
Dispensing of optical technologies coupled with extensive training provides a comprehensive driver rehabilitation program.
Returning to driving in a safe manner is often possible with today's vision rehabilitation technologies. We carry out detailed evaluations of visual acuity, visual fields, ocular-motor skills, binocular vision, visual attention, visual figure-ground, and visual memory. All of the components should be at their maximum possible level to optimize safety on the road. Dispensing of optical technologies coupled with extensive training provides a comprehensive driver rehabilitation program.
Return to work
Vocational rehabilitation, digital magnifiers, and specialized software can help some patients return to work.
Improve walking and balance
Prism lenses, visual field expanders, and therapy can stabilize your vision and minimize dizziness and resultant falls.
Visual distortions of space secondary to eye or neurological diseases affect your walking and balance. Prism lenses coupled with therapy techniques can stabilize your vision and fill in gaps where blind spots may be. Dizziness and resultant falls are minimized. If you are experiencing a stumbling or staggering gait from such conditions as stroke, retinitis pigmentosa, Parkinson's, or glaucoma, you should be evaluated by a low vision specialist.
- Visual field expanders (improve scanning)
- Yoked prisma
- Stabilized binocular vision
Help with activities of daily living
Few people want to give up their independence. Vision rehabilitation can help you gain some independence and quality of life by enabling you to perform daily activities made difficult by loss of vision. Training with optical devices for ADLs (activities of daily living) is best done in the home or in a simulated home environment. The School of Optometry Low Vision Rehabilitation Services staff works with organizations that provide in-home or simulated training. Areas include:
- Medicine administration
Hobbies and activities
Low vision rehabilitation can be tailored to meet the demands of any hobby or activity.
Children and learning
Help is available for visually impaired children who need assistance in vision information processing and vision-related learning disorders.
Visually impaired children can experience the same vision-related learning disorders as normal-sighted children. Indiana University School of Optometry eye care centers are unique in that they offer low vision rehabilitation services as well as evaluation and treatment for vision information processing and vision-related learning disorders. Complete vision rehabilitation for children is possible under one roof.
Acute retinal macular degeneration (ARMD)
Low vision rehabilitation has aided countless ARMD patients. LVR is not a cure for ARMD, but rather a way to help those with retinal damage lead more normal lives. This is accomplished through a variety of avenues, including special lenses, optical devices, and electronic vision enhancers. In addition, we teach ARMD patients how to effectively use available vision. Many patients have been told nothing can be done when in fact low vision aids can be a great help.
Forms and tools
- What to Expect During a Low Vision Evaluation
- Case History Form
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Phone Call Screening for Low Vision Appointment
Low Vision Resource Guides
- Resources for Our Visually Impaired Patients (Indianapolis Eye Care Center)
- Blind and Visually Impaired Services Catalog Resource Guide
- Large Print Material Sources
- Resources for Visually Impaired Individuals in Anderson, Indiana
- Resources for Visually Impaired Persons in Connersville, Indiana
- Indiana Requirements for Bioptic Telescope Driving
- Application for Disability Parking Placard or Disability Plate
- Indiana BMV Certificate of Vision (Eye Referral)
- Indiana Request for Special/Courtesy Test Affidavit
- Indiana Certificate of Vision for Bioptic Drivers
The following materials are copyrighted. Please do not use any portion of the materials without the consent of Dr. Kevin Houston (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Low Vision Rehabilitation: Update for Eye Care Providers
By Sean Knaak, O.D. and Elli Kollbaum, O.D., FAAO (Clinical Assistant Professor)
- Confidential Registry of Blind and Visually Impaired (Indiana State Department of Health)
- IU School of Optometry Low Vision Rehabilitation Services Brochure
The Indiana Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation provides quality, individualized services to help people with disabilities prepare for, obtain, or retain employment. Through active participation in their rehabilitation, people with disabilities achieve a greater level of independence in their workplace and living environments. Find the VR office nearest to you on the bureau website.
Easter Seals Crossroads low vision rehabilitation services welcomes the referral of any person who has difficulty performing any task due to a reduction in vision. Its staff assists individuals in making the best use of their remaining vision by developing the necessary skills to live as independently as possible (including in-home therapy and training, career skills training, assistive technology training, and bioptic driver training). Services are provided in the home environment, work environment, or at Crossroads.
4740 Kingsway Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46205
Bosma Rehabilitation Center, blind and visually impaired services, offers a program of tips and techniques for persons 55 and older who are visually impaired. Participants learn basic skills for independently managing daily activities when vision impairment causes difficulties.
1426 W. 29th Street, Suite 207
Indianapolis, IN 46208
Toll free: 800-860-7181
SeniorBridge Family (at-home eldercare) provides an integrated model of care for elderly and chronically ill individuals and their families. Every SeniorBridge office is staffed with nurses, social workers, home health aides, and companions. SeniorBridge also collaborates extensively with the broader professional advisory community—which includes physicians, accountants, trust managers, bankers, and attorneys.
Indianapolis SeniorBridge Manager: 317-402-5933
The state of Indiana Family and Social Services Administration offers “The Road to Work,” an employment resource guide that contains information about the state-federal Vocational Rehabilitation Services program.
Aurora Ministries provides Bibles in audio form to the visually impaired and print-handicapped, at no expense to the recipient.