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Optometry

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Low Vision Rehabilitation

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) recognizes the importance of providing blind and low vision rehabilitation care to Veterans.  From now to the year 2020, VHA estimates that there will be almost one million severely visually impaired Veterans.

VHA Optometry Service offers a wide variety of services along the continuum of visual impairment ranging from primary eye and low vision care to Visual Impairment Center to Optimize Remaining Sight (VICTORS) programs and Blind Rehabilitation Centers (BRCs).  Optometrists strive to help visually impaired Veterans maintain functionality and independence by addressing visual problems, determining goals, and evaluating specialized devices to aid Veterans in achieving those goals.

Vision loss can have a great impact on a person's ability to perform routine activities of daily living.  Functional losses may include decreased ability to read or recognize faces, problems with paying bills, writing checks and taking care of personal finances, difficulty with watching television, cooking, and participating in hobbies or avocational activities.  Vision loss can have a profound effect on mobility, with the loss of ability to drive, or worse, the loss of safe ambulation.  A significant problem for elderly Veterans may be the inability to self-medicate because of the inability to read the labels on medicine bottles.

Optometrists evaluate decreased distance vision, decreased near vision, central vision loss, peripheral vision loss, reduced contrast sensitivity, and problems with photophobia, glare, and lighting.  A variety of low vision devices may be prescribed for the visually impaired Veteran, including specialized lens designs and prescriptions, illuminated and non-illuminated stand, pocket and hand held magnifiers, prismatic eyeglasses, telescopes, special lighting, tints and filters, non-optical devices, and electronic devices such as Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTVs) and head-mounted displays.

VHA Optometry Service strives to contribute to the care of visually impaired Veterans through advanced training of clinicians in low vision rehabilitation in established Optometry Residency Programs.  Many VA optometrists are actively involved in research pertaining to vision loss and vision rehabilitation, and some are renowned national leaders and educators in the field of low vision rehabilitation.

Image of low vision devices including hand held magnifiers, telescopes, and a talking watch. 

Low vision devices include hand-held magnifiers, telescopes and a talking watch.

Statutory Blindness and Legal Blindness Determination:

Low Vision Policies and Related Publications:

References/Resources: