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A low vision therapist is a medical professional who works with people who have visual impairments to help them become as independent as possible. Like other types of occupational therapists, low vision therapists place a heavy emphasis on empowering their patients so that their patients can live without support or assistance from others. A variety of techniques are used to accomplish this goal, including regular sessions with the patient to monitor progress.
People can be referred to a low vision therapist with degenerative conditions, damage to their eyes which has been arrested but has still caused visual issues, and other vision problems. The first step for the low vision therapist is an assessment in which the level of function is ascertained, so that the therapist can tailor a program to the patient. He or she may also review the patient's chart and referral information to learn more about the patient's condition.
The therapist also interviews the patient, talking about specific issues which the patient has trouble with, such as reading, cooking, and so forth. Low vision therapists also talk with patients about their jobs to learn more about what they do, and how the therapist can help the patient retain a high level of freedom and functionality at work. With all of this information, the low vision therapist develops a treatment plan which is appropriate for the patient.
He or she may provide the patient with techniques and exercises which are intended to help the patient retain as much visual acuity as possible, by working the eyes and learning to cope with visual impairments. Low vision therapists may be especially concerned with this when a patient has a degenerative disease, as they want to keep the patient fully functional for as long as possible. Routine monitoring for changes in vision quality and other emerging issues is also important.
A low vision therapist also provides information about assistive devices, along with advice on how to use them. These devices can include magnifying glasses, screen readers for computers, and a variety of other tools which can assist a patient with an assortment of tasks. The therapist may be able to provide some devices for free or at low cost through grants from charitable groups and health insurance coverage, or he or she can help the patient pick up the most suitable products.
Seeing a low vision therapist can be extremely beneficial for a patient, especially if he or she is struggling with a new diagnosis. The therapist can provide valuable information and skills which will allow the patient to become more confident, and alleviate concerns which the patient may have.