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Zully Kasmani

Registered Optician & Fellowship in British Dispensing Opticians

What is low vision? Low vision is significant vision loss that can’t be corrected with conventional eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgical procedures. It can be caused by an eye disease, genetics, or an injury to the eye.

If someone suspects they have low vision, they’ll typically engage the services of an eye health care professional. Thus begins the rehabilitation. The process is a multidisciplinary one that may involve various professionals, including opticians, optometrists, ophthalmologists, low vision specialists, orientation and mobility specialists, and daily living specialists. An eye exam is always recommended as the first step. Updating a patient’s eyeglasses prescription helps in obtaining low-vision devices with a minimum level of magnification to increase the patient’s field of view. 

The second step in the process is a low vision assessment. This helps to determine the appropriate device(s) needed. The low vision assessment can be done by an optician, optometrist, or ophthalmologist, or by a low vision specialist from the CNIB. All these services can usually be found in the same clinic/dispensary.

The low vision assessment determines how to best enhance the patient’s limited vision. Once the right devices are found, patients are taught how to use and care for these devices. Devices may include hand, stand, and electronic magnifiers, telescopes, and non-optical aids such as filters. Other non-optical aids, such additional lighting, can be looked into to see whether they’d be helpful in increasing contrast or decreasing glare. Depending on the type and the stage of the impairment, the patient may be referred to other professionals to help with daily living.

Eye care professionals recommend starting low vision rehabilitation when vision loss is at an earlier rather than a later stage, as it’s easier for an individual to adapt to the low-vision devices before there’s considerable vision impairment. If you have vision loss, talk to your optician today.

Vision Impairment in Canada

The approximate numbers of individuals with various types of vision impairment in Canada are:

  • Cataracts: 3,541,000
  • Age-related macular degeneration: 1,574,000
  • Glaucoma: 294,600
  • Diabetic retinopathy: 749,800
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