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Vision Rehabilitation of the Patient with Genetic Eye Disease 

Vision Rehabilitation of the Patient with Genetic Eye Disease
Vision Rehabilitation of the Patient with Genetic Eye Disease

Joseph L. Derose

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date: 24 January 2022

Like everyone else, visually impaired people want full, productive lives, and any intervention that may help them reach their goals should be considered. Low-vision rehabilitation services are scarce,1 and most patients with low vision are left in the hands of eye care practitioners who often do not attend to their rehabilitative needs.2 This is not to say that these patients are poorly managed from a medical perspective; indeed, many receive the finest care possible. However, while their medical care is flawless, their functional needs are not addressed. The thorough clinician should question patients about their functional problems and offer assistance accordingly. Rehabilitation should be thought of as the next logical step in patient management.

Working with patients with low vision should be thought of as a rehabilitation effort, not a procedural one. This is a critical distinction. The goal of the low-vision evaluation should not be simply to prescribe devices. The specialist must address numerous issues affecting the patient, including mobility, psychosocial issues, educational and occupational concerns, comorbidities, family support, and financial concerns, among others.

As low-vision rehabilitation evolves and matures, it behooves the eye care professions to think of it as medical intervention. One desired benefit of this change in attitude may be better third-party funding for low-vision care, devices, and other services. Unfortunately, patients often are not referred for care because the practitioner believes that they cannot afford the services. Decisions about services and assistive devices should be based on medical necessity, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of the desired outcome. Better funding may allow all patients to receive the rehabilitative care that they need.

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