For low vision specialists and those who consult them
Does everyone want low vision services?
March 2, 2010Posted by on
Many people in the field of vision rehabilitation are concerned with ensuring that low vision services are available to as many people as possible. But does every visually impaired person want to receive low vision services?
I must confess that I had not given this question much thought: like many of my colleagues I assume that low vision clinics should be accessible by everyone, and would argue strongly that every person with visual impairment should be assessed in a low vision clinic at least once. However, a recent post on the AAO vision rehab mailing list has made me question this. Dan Roberts, the director of MD Support, has surveyed a small group of people with AMD who have not received low vision rehabilitation. He identified 18 people who had not received low vision rehab, and asked them why they hadn’t been to a low vision clinic. To quote directly from his report:
1 (6%) did not know Low vision rehab (LVR) was available.
4 (22%) knew LVR was available, but were not encouraged to pursue it.
5 (28%) were encouraged to pursue LVR, but felt it unnecessary, either because of still-satisfactory vision or knowledge gained from other resources.
4 (22%) were encouraged to pursue LVR, but couldn’t afford it.
4 (22%) found LVR sessions too inconvenient, due to distance or time.
This small survey shows that the barrier to accessing rehab is not entirely due to lack of awareness or accessibility but simply that some people are not interested in pursuing vision rehabilitation.
Of course this is a very small sample of a very self-selecting group (those who subscribe to a macular disease email list, who are likely to be better informed than the general population). All of the subjects had internet access and sufficient vision to use a computer (presumably without Zoomtext or other text enlargement software). And, consistent with other studies, some people were indeed found to be discouraged by the cost of low vision rehabilitation or the distance to the clinic.
This survey could be seen as evidence that we don’t communicate the benefits of vision rehabilitation to potential service users clearly enough. However, the point remains that not every visually impaired person wants to attend a low vision consultation.