Bhavani R. Iyer, O.D. , FAAO Low vision is a condition where an individual’s vision drops to below 20 over 60 despite their glasses or contact lenses, and their better eye and all other medical treatments have been explored. A person can also be classified as having low vision if they have a visual field deficit that affects the way they function. Our goal in the Center for Visual Rehabilitation is to maximize the use of their residual vision. These are individuals that have lost function of varying degrees, depending on their level of vision loss, and our goal is to restore them to their function, as close to what they used to have as possible. The most common reasons why patients come into our clinic are difficulty with reading, walking independently, and driving, particularly amongst the seniors. We see a lot of school-age children that have difficulty with their schoolwork, not being able to see the chalkboard, being able to complete their homework, or, you know, reading independently. The working-age adults we typically see because they’re having trouble either accessing their computer or not being able to do what they want to do on a day-to-day basis. The type of rehabilitation we provide would completely depend upon the diagnosis that they have; it’s not like one size fits all. Each diagnosis causes a different problem and different set of problems, and each problem is addressed very differently, so it’s a tailor-made approach, which is why visual rehabilitation is such an important part of what we do. We don’t do — just do low vision assessment and give out devices; we rehabilitate these individuals because each diagnosis causes a unique set of problems. So we take all that into consideration when we prescribe things for patients. The rehabilitation process is a very, very important component of a low vision — comprehensive low vision program, and I think that’s, really, how we’re different, in that we look at it from a, you know, holistic approach. One that particularly stands out to me is a young gentleman. He was in high school when he developed the vision loss. Very depressed because he had to drop out of high school, couldn’t complete what he wanted to do — he wanted to go to college. So he came in, and we saw him. And when I talked to him, I could see that he was really motivated to study, so we started working with him and exposed him to a wide range of options that are available. And talked to him about finishing his GED and enrolling for college. And I saw him six months later back in this clinic, and he turns up in a full-sleeve shirt, you know, hair neatly cut, you know, slacks and shoes. And he came in with his mother, and the mother had tears in her eyes, and she said, “You do not know how much you have changed our lives.” He said, “I’m enrolled in college, and I’m able to do my coursework,” and “Thank you for doing this for me.” And that, to me, is the biggest reward.
You’re truly changing lives, and I think that’s what makes it all worthwhile. The Center for Visual Rehabilitation
Robert Cizik Eye Clinic McGovern Medical School,
a part of UTHealth