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Establishing the Service Potential of Secondary Level Low Vision Clinics

Wong, Elaine Y. H.; O'Connor, Patricia M.*; Keeffe, Jill E.*

Optometry & Vision Science:
doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e318218a0a2
Original Article

Purpose. To determine the proportion of people with low vision who can be adequately managed at a secondary level low vision clinic where only low to moderate magnification low vision devices (LVDs) and basic rehabilitation services are provided.

Methods. A retrospective study of clinical records of participants who attended low vision rehabilitation services (Vision Australia) for the first time between 2000 and 2002 was conducted. Information regarding main cause of vision loss, goals of vision rehabilitation, types of LVDs purchased, and type of services received was examined.

Results. Of the 192 participants studied, 65% were female and the mean age was 76 years (range, 19 to 100 years). Most participants had mild (35%) to moderate (49%) vision impairment. Seventy percent (134) of participants purchased some type of LVDs. Near adds of low magnification (1 to 2×) were the most common aid preferred by participants (n = 54) followed by handheld magnifiers of moderate magnification (2.5 to 5×; (n = 52). Only 10 of the 134 LVDs (8%) purchased were of high magnification (>5×). In addition, only 46 of the 192 participants (24%) attended tertiary level rehabilitation with orientation and mobility (O&M) instructors and/or occupational therapists. Along with the six participants who required high magnification LVDs but no O&M or OT services, in total, 27% (52/192) required tertiary level low vision care.

Conclusions. A secondary level low vision clinic is likely to meet the needs of >70% of people with vision impairment. It would play an important role in vision rehabilitation especially in countries where a wide range of services are available.

Author Information


Department of Ophthalmology, Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (EYHW, PMO, JEK), and Vision CRC, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (PMO, JEK).

Received July 19, 2010; accepted February 2, 2011.

Centre for Eye Research Australia University of Melbourne 32 Gisborne Street East Melbourne, VIC 3002 Australia e-mail:

© 2011 American Academy of Optometry