Characteristics of low-vision rehabilitation services in the United States

Academic Article


  • Objectives: To describe characteristics of services, providers, and patients in low-vision rehabilitation entities serving adults in the United States. Methods: Entities (excluding Veterans Affairs clinics) were identified through professional associations, Web searches, and a telephone survey to retina practices. A census obtained information on entity types, provider types, rehabilitation services available, and clientele. Surveys were administered by telephone, fax, e-mail, or mail, whichever was preferred by the respondent. Results: A total of 1228 low-vision rehabilitation service entities were identified, with 608 surveyed (49.5% response rate). Almost half (42.7%) were private optometry practices. State agencies had the highest number of clients per week (45.0 clients per week) whereas private optometry practices had the lowest (4.1 clients per week). Most (≥88.0%) established rehabilitation goals, fit optical aids with basic training, and conducted eye examinations. Scanning, eccentric viewing, orientation and mobility, and advanced device training were less commonly offered (25%-50% of entities). Central vision impairment was the most common deficit (74.1% of clients), with age-related macular degeneration being the most common cause (67.1%). Among the clients, 85.9% had problems reading and 67.7% had problems driving; 44.9% had adjustment disorders. Almost 1 in 3 clients was aged 80 years or older. Conclusion: This census for the first time characterizes usual-care low-vision rehabilitation services in the United States for nonveteran adults. ©2009 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Owsley C; McGwin G; Lee PP; Wasserman N; Searcey K
  • Start Page

  • 681
  • End Page

  • 689
  • Volume

  • 127
  • Issue

  • 5