An online resource to build knowledge of low vision care, as well as support and services, is now available.
An initiative of Deakin University, the resource has been developed by Dr Khyber Alam, Professor Alex Gentle and Associate Professor Heather Connor from Deakin University, along with Professor Sharon Bentley from Queensland University of Technology.
Dr Alam, who is Course Director for Doctor of Optometry at The University of Western Australia, said low vision is a neglected area in optometry, and one that needs attention as the incidence is on the rise due to an ageing population. Disappointingly, few planned initiatives have been undertaken explicitly to increase uptake of low vision services.
“More than half a million Australians have a permanent vision impairment, but only 31% of these patients are believed to be aware of low vision rehabilitation services, and barely 20% access available services. However, reports suggest more than 90% of these patients could benefit from such services since many visually impaired patients retain some useful sight; low vision rehabilitation services could help maximise their remaining sight and improve their quality of life,” said Dr Alam.
With clinicians being time poor, he hopes the Deakin Low Vision Initiative’s synthesised and relevant information on low vision, will save them time browsing the Internet for information.
“A publicly available website, that’s accessible to all Australian eye care practitioners, is a cost-effective way to spread awareness about low vision services and ensure their continuous professional development in the area of vision impairment. The needs of low vision patients are similar across the world and some of these resources generated can be applied more broadly,” he said.
The Deakin Low Vision Initiative includes information on how to conduct a low vision optometric examination, a clear set of referral criteria for patients requiring comprehensive low vision support and/or services, a referral template, and three patient stories in video format.
Additionally, the initiative offers patient information on low vision organisations, including the type of services they provide, and contact details such as website, email and phone number.