National Eye Institute Introduces New Resources for Low Vision Patients

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BETHESDA, Md.—As a growing number of Americans experience vision loss, the National Eye Institute (NEI), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has released a series of resources to aid individuals with low vision. The new resources include a print booklet and series of videos developed by the NEI National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP).

The booklet, Living with Low Vision: What you should know, contains 20 pages of large print with tips to maximize remaining eyesight and urges readers to seek help from a low vision specialist to achieve a productive and rewarding life. Video resources range from patient stories to information targeted to health care professionals, with emphasis on informing patients about vision rehabilitation services.

“I encourage anyone with low vision to seek guidance about vision rehabilitation from a low vision specialist,” said NEI director Paul A. Sieving, MD, PhD. “For many people, vision rehabilitation can improve daily living and overall quality of life.”

According to a 2012 report cosponsored by the NIH, 2.9 million Americans are currently living with low vision, and the number is projected to increase 72 percent by 2030. Vision loss is mainly caused by age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma in older adults, and inherited eye conditions, infections or autoimmune eye disease or trauma in younger adults. By working with an ophthalmologist or optometrist who specializes in low vision care, patients can develop rehabilitation plans that include training to use magnifying devices, learning new daily living skills to maintain independence and developing strategies to safely navigate life outside the home.

“A vision rehabilitation plan helps people reach their true visual potential when nothing more can be done from a medical or surgical standpoint,” said Mark Wilkinson, OD, low vision specialist and NEHEP planning committee member. “Vision rehabilitation can make a world of difference to a person adjusting to vision loss and should be considered part of the continuum of care. I urge health professionals to help their patients with low vision seek vision rehabilitation services.”

The new NEI booklet and videos, along with other resources for people with low vision, can be viewed and downloaded here.