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Occupational therapy and low vision | The Aging Suite
  • Occupational therapy and low vision

    Posted on April 12, 2010 by in Featured

    An estimated 21.1% of individuals 75 years old or older have low vision.  Low vision deficits are permanent visual impairments that cannot be corrected with the use of contact lenses, glasses, or surgery.

    Low Vision can impact someone’s ability to:

    • Read
    • Cook
    • Take medications
    • Groom themselves including shaving and applying makeup
    • Get around safely in their home and community

    Diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and retinitis pigmentosa can affect an individual’s performance, safety, and independence in their home and community.  Occupational therapists (OTs) often work with individuals with low vision, teaching strategies including:

    • Using their available vision to perform daily activities such as cooking and dressing
    • Making suggestions regarding lighting options
    • Teaching and training in safety strategies for the home and community
    • Teaching specialized techniques for reading writing, and cooking
    • Training in the of use low vision devices such as magnifiers

    Research has indicated that older adults with low vision are at increased risk for depression, may be more distressed due to feelings of loss of control, have increased fear of dependency upon others, and may also have a perceived loss of their ability to maintain their social roles.  Studies have also indicated that individuals with visual impairments are less mobile, have higher mortality rates, and are more likely to have accidents and falls.

    However, Low vision rehabilitation services can help; they allow people with visual impairments to utilize adaptive devises and techniques to assist them towards independence when performing their daily activities.  Studies have also indicated that patients who have participated in low vision rehabilitation programs have demonstrated an improvement with quality of life; and low vision services help decrease fears about deteriorating vision.  Click here to learn more about how OTs can help individuals with low vision.

    Sources:  Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Psychosocial issues in older adults’ adjustment to vision loss:  Findings from qualitative interviews and focus groups, Quality of life of low-vision patients and outcomes of low-vision rehabilitation

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