Quick Links

Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Top

Low Vision Clinics

Home > breadcrumbs: For Students & Families > breadcrumbs: Low Vision Clinics >

Working...

Ajax Loading Image

 

Low Vision Clinic

LOW VISION CLINIC . . . WHAT IS IT?   WHO NEEDS IT?

Persons who have a reduced visual acuity that interferes with educational and
day-to-day activities are sometimes referred to as having low vision. As many as 90% of the youth in Iowa who have been identified as having a visual impairment have some degree of useable vision. Several types of low vision devices and tools are available as well as programming information, that may assist these students in overcoming some of their visual difficulties.

Low Vision Clinic offers a special examination to determine if a student's visual functioning can be enhanced through the use of optical or non-optical devices and adaptive techniques. The vision examination is conducted by a Low Vision Practitioner, a doctor of optometry who has specialized training in working with children with visual impairments. The doctor will measure how well a student sees things that are close and things that are distant, and will determine whether the student can benefit from the use of optical devices or electronic magnification devices.

In addition to the Low Vision Practitioner, the Low Vision Clinic Team includes other professionals who are available to assess and/or address questions or concerns specific to the student’s individual needs: such as, use of technology, development of safe and independent travel skills, and educational strategies and techniques.

Low Vision Clinic examinations take a minimum of one-half hour, but may take longer, depending on specific needs to be addressed and whether the student is seen by team members in addition to the Low Vision Practitioner. The examination is free of cost to parents and school districts.  The clinic is funded through a grant from the Iowa Department of Education and donations from the Lions Clubs of Iowa.

A clinical low vision examination should be a part of the process to fully evaluate the visual condition, abilities, and programming needs of students who have low vision. Parents, the teacher of students with visual impairments, and other educational team members, are encouraged to accompany the student during the evaluation process so they can have their questions answered and also, to share their knowledge about the student with others on the Low Vision Clinic Team.  A report of findings will be sent to the student's parents and the AEA vision services personnel within approximately two weeks after the examination.

Low Vision Clinics are held in the fall (generally in October and November) and spring (generally in March and April) in various locations in Iowa.  For information regarding the dates and locations of upcoming Low Vision Clinics, contact one of the following Iowa Braille School staff:

Pat Barr,  at 319-472-5221, Extension 1110 or

Jim Judd at 319-472-5221, Extension 1050.

Considerations for the child who has multiple disabilities . . . .
Will a visit to the Low Vision Clinic be beneficial?

Students evaluated at the Low Vision Clinic represent a wide range of ages, developmental levels and abilities, and levels of visual functioning. Often, the appropriateness of a low vision clinic evaluation for the child who has additional disabilities depends on variables that need to be considered by the parents, the Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI), and perhaps other members of the child’s educational team.

Children with multiple disabilities often respond best in an environment that is familiar and consistent. Additionally, responses may be influenced by such things as the effects of medications or other physical states that are not always predictable. These are some of the reasons it is possible that a child with multiple disabilities will not be as responsive as we would hope at the time of a clinical evaluation.

Parents and other team members should carefully consider possible variables and weigh their expectations for the outcome of a visit to a Low Vision Clinic, before investing the time and effort required to bring your child. Consider whether the information you hope to gain from a low vision clinic evaluation is more than can be obtained from methods of functional vision assessment provided by your child’s TVI and other service providers.

Outcomes of a Low Vision Clinic visit that may be beneficial include:
To establish a baseline of general visual functioning level or perhaps an acuity measurement.  For very young children or nonverbal children who are not able to respond to a traditional test of acuity measurement, it may be possible to use other methods to obtain a general indication of their level of visual functioning or even a distance acuity equivalent, and to give a prognosis for expected levels of visual functioning they likely will develop.

To help parents and teachers obtain information to better understand their child’s visual condition and visual functioning, i.e., “how” he/she sees.

To determine if there is a refractive error (need for corrective lenses) and whether the refractive error is significant enough to prescribe eyeglasses.

To provide information and assistance in the process of determining appropriate learning strategies that will possibly enhance the student’s functioning level, and to assist educational team members with trial and/or acquisition of recommended devices, equipment or strategies. The Low Vision Clinic Team includes professionals who are available to explore and demonstrate some learning techniques and equipment with your child at the time of your clinic visit.

To provide re-evaluation to determine if visual functioning is improving, remaining stable or otherwise changing, and what those changes may indicate in terms of other programming needs.

The points below are reasons for students to be seen initially at the Low Vision Clinic, and to return for continued follow-up visits as recommended:

To establish a baseline of acuity measurement and general visual functioning level, for all students who have low vision.  For very young children or nonverbal children who are not able to respond to a traditional test of acuity measurement, it may be possible to use other methods to obtain a general indication of their level of visual functioning or even a distance acuity equivalent, and to give a prognosis for expected levels of visual functioning they likely will develop.

To help parents and teachers better understand their child’s visual condition and visual functioning, i.e., “how” he/she sees.

To determine if there is a refractive error (need for corrective lenses) and whether the refractive error is significant enough to prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses.

To provide information and assistance, as needed, in the process of determining most appropriate learning media, literacy media, and print size.

To assess visual skills in terms of whether or not vision is likely a major factor when there are concerns about other developmental areas.

To determine if low vision devices, technology equipment or other adaptations and accommodations will likely enhance the student’s functioning level and to assist educational team members with trial and/or acquisition of recommended devices, equipment or strategies.

To provide re-evaluation to determine if visual functioning is improving, remaining stable or otherwise changing, and what those changes may indicate in terms of other programming needs; and whether the need for devices or other accommodations has changed. A particular visual diagnosis will usually indicate a prognosis in terms of whether or not the eye condition will remain stable, and visual functioning should be closely monitored as one indicator of the student’s visual status over time. Additionally, as a result of the growth and maturation process, a student’s need for specific devices or optical power will often change over the course of time. It is important that students return for follow-up visits to the low vision clinic as recommended. Educational programming decisions need to be based upon information that is current and accurate.

To assess vision in terms of acquiring a learner’s permit or driver’s license when appropriate.  Many students want to learn if they can qualify visually to eventually be able to drive. The Low Vision Practitioner has a great deal of experience and expertise in advising low vision patients in this area. He can counsel the students with regard to the procedures they need to follow for their particular situation, and can also provide the written documentation required when appropriate.

To assess if other related services are indicated, such as orientation and mobility services.

Back To Top