About Low Vision and Vision Rehabilitation Services at Aravind

Low vision is the term used to describe significant visual impairment that can’t be corrected fully with glasses, contact lenses, medication or eye surgery. The most common cause of low vision is macular degeneration, an age-related disease that affects the central portion of visual field. Other common causes include Glaucoma, Cataracts and Diabetes.

The Low Vision and Vision Rehabilitation Centre at Aravind Eye Hospital was established in 1999, by the visionary leader Dr P. Namperumalsamy, Chairman-Emeritus, Aravind Eye Care System. The centre has undertaken various initiatives to address the problem of low vision and blindness. Every year, the centre caters to nearly 6000 persons with visual impairment of varying age group. 45% of the patients are in the age group of 0-15 years.

Low Vision service is available at Aravind-Madurai and Tirunelveli.

Low Vision - Diagnostic and Treatment

Low vision affects each individual differently. Intervention requires looking beyond conventional vision-improvement approaches to focus on the patient’s particular problem.

The clinic has all the equipment and diagnostic tools necessary for vision assessment in patients. The department provides a full range of different types of telescopes, optical and electronic magnifiers including the CCTV and non-optical aids to help people with low vision make the best use of their existing vision. A vision stimulation centre is arranged exclusively for children with visual impairment. The department offers training in JAWS, a computer screen reader programme for Microsoft Windows that allows blind and visually impaired users to read the screen.

Paediatric vision Rehabilitation

  • Vision Assessment:

Children with irreversible vision impairment and with associated disabilities like Autism, ADHD, Learning disability etc are referred to Vision Rehabilitation Centre for assessing the child’s cognitive vision abilities in addition to routine ophthalmic evaluation.  After examination, necessary rehabilitation services will be offered.

  • Early Intervention:

Children with profound vision impairment in infancy are provided with a series of activities to improve the residual vision. Activities such as promoting the child to see look at coloured lights and patterns aids in utilizing the residual vision of the child.

Children who have multiple disabilities may have associated cognitive visual dysfunction which might lead to behavioural abnormalities, delayed development and poor academic performance or learning disability. These children are assessed using a specially designed protocol and provided with appropriate strategies or intervention. They are also referred to other professionals for therapy, government or NGO based integrated education, etc. The parents and special-educators are educated on the strategies and interventions for the child.

Once a year special educators and parents of children with special needs are invited for short CME programmes to update them on existing intervention methods and rehabilitation facilities.

  • Low vision Devices:

For children with vision impairment, a complete assessment of vision will be done. patients will be given an opportunity to try the various low vision devices. Based on the need, optical or non-optical low vision devices will be provided to improve the patient’s quality of life.

  • Educational Guidance:

Children who have problem in continuing their education in normal school are guided by referring them to the appropriate mode of education like Inclusive education/ Mainstreaming and special education. The centre has good networking with the schools for children with visual impairment or professionals in the mainstreaming system.

Children who are capable of continuing education in normal school with the help of low vision devices are encouraged to study in the normal education system. A set of instructions will be given to teachers which will make the child comfortable in the school.

Children with profound visual impairment are provided orientation and mobility training using customized height based canes, which eventually help them be independent.

Adult Rehabilitation

  • Vision Assessment:

After a complete vision assessment and based on the need of the patient, optical or non-optical low vision devices will be provided to the patients to improve their quality of life.eg, telescopes to look at name boards, magnifiers for near work, notex to identify currency notes, etc

  • Vocational guidance :

For persons who are in need of employment, guidance on how to seek for job opportunities will be provided. They are referred to appropriate centres or NGOs for such opportunities.

  • Social rehabilitation:

Guidance is provided in accessing privileges given by government or NGOs for persons with disability.

  • Mobility training:

Mobility training with smart canes, standard white cane, and other assistive devices like wand, blind man torch, ausion are also provided.

  • Digital resource services:

Training is provided to use computer and laptops using a special screen reader software. This is a customized training programme, provided by a trainer who is also visually impaired. The training schedule is customized for each patient depending on their need and nature of employment.

The patients are also trained to use smart phone with talk back and magnifier options inbuilt in the android mobiles.

Persons who are not able to avail specific audio files for their educational curricula are provided with audio recordings of their entire syllabus. This is done with the help of volunteers who record the syllabi and reading material.

  • Community based Low Vision service:

Persons with low vision are identified in the community with the help of field workers. These patients are rehabilitated in the community by Low Vision team and if needed they are referred to base hospital for further management.

Children with Autism studying in special schools are attended to by the team for a complete cognitive vision assessment. Parents as well as their teachers are guided on the appropriate vision intervention.

Children with vision impairment who are studying in the inclusive education are examined and rehabilitated by the Low Vision team in their home town with the help of special school teachers working under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) project.

Low Vision - Our Doctors

ARAVIND – MADURAI
Chief
ARAVIND – TIRUNELVELI
Chief

Low Vision - Ongoing Research

  • Hospital anxiety and depression scale assessment of patients with low vision before and after using low vision care: A prospective study in a tertiary eye-care setting