Low Vision Assessments

What is a Low Vision Assessment?

If you, a family member, or a friend has one or more eye disorders, such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy, it's important to have a comprehensive low vision examination – performed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist who specializes in low vision – to determine whether special low vision optical devices, better lighting, large print reading materials, or other types of training, such as vision rehabilitation services, can help you, your family member, or your friend with low vision to use his or her functional vision more effectively.

An important part of the assessment is for you, your doctor, and his or her social worker to discuss how you are adapting emotionally to your vision loss, whether you are motivated to learn a different way of doing things, and if you have family and friends to support you.

A functional eye assessment

The low vision eye care specialist is trained to conduct a functional eye assessment that focuses directly on how a person's particular vision impairment affects his or her day-to-day living.

Some examples of functional vision problems can include:

  • Difficulty seeing the height of the gas flame when cooking
  • Problems crossing streets or seeing traffic
  • Difficulty seeing information on a computer screen
  • Problems threading a needle or making clothing repairs
  • Difficulty reading, such as using the telephone book or looking through magazines, even with regular eyeglasses.

Preparing for the Low Vision Assessment

Before arriving for the Low Vision Assessment, it's helpful to make a list of questions. Here are some suggestions:

  • What is the name of my eye disease or disorder?
  • What is the cause of my vision loss?
  • Is my condition stable, or can I lose more sight?
  • Is there any treatment for my eye condition?
  • Do I have a loss of side (or peripheral) vision?
  • Will regular eyeglasses help me?
  • How can I protect my remaining vision?
  • Do I need any special medications?
  • Am I entitled to any special services or benefits?
  • What resources and rehabilitation services are available to help me?
  • Also, it is helpful to make a list of activities that you want and need to do, such as sewing, playing cards, watching ball games, or going to the theater, and to list the types of reading materials you want – and need – to access. This information can help focus your discussions with your low vision professional.

A helpful checklist

Here is a checklist to help you prepare for your Low Vision Assessment:

  • Bring any glasses, adaptive aids, and magnifiers that you are currently using to show the specialist. What do you like or dislike about each item?
  • Write a list of areas that you currently have trouble with in relation to your vision. What are your goals and expectations in these areas?
  • Does sunlight bother you? Can you read standard print? Can you travel independently?
  • Remember, the more information you can provide, the better the staff will be able to assist you.