Occupational Therapy Training Helps Low Vision Patients

In an attempt to demonstrate that low vision patients have good potential for overcoming vision loss, researchers undertook a study and presented their findings.

The International Society for Low Vision Research and Rehabilitation (ISLRR) held their International Congress meeting this year in Melbourne Australia.

Many researchers converged on the meeting from all over the world to discuss research relevant to having visual impairments.

In an attempt to demonstrate that low vision patients have good potential for overcoming vision loss we undertook a study and presented our findings in a paper titled:

Performance Measures Pre and Post Occupational Therapy (OT) Training in Low Vision Patients.

Purpose: To assess if low vision patients show an improvement in ADL (Activities of Daily Living) performance measures after occupational therapy (OT) training.

Methods: 26 low vision patients had an evaluation followed by OT training. A battery of performance measures were performed pre and post training. This included “the SK Read test,” bill reading, currency identification, hand writing accuracy, and frustration level estimation.

Results: Patient age range was 70-94 years (median age 83) with 77% female. All patients had AMD or glaucoma. Visual acuity median/range was 20/160 and 20/50 to 20/730. Length of occupational therapy training was median/range 3.5/1 – 6.5 hours. SK Read mean error rate improved from 4.1 to 2.4 errors per block. 31% pre vs 96% post training could read an electric bill date and amount due accurately. All subjects could identify currency pre and post but mean time improved (23 to 16 seconds). Handwriting performance was unchanged and frustration estimates x/10 improved (6.7 to 3.8).

Conclusions: Most of these performance measures showed an improvement as well as a decrease in estimated frustration with occupational therapy training. The value of low vision rehabilitation programs including a training component is clearly supported by this evidence.

Authors: D.C. Fletcher, L. Renninger, K. Downes; (Ophthalmology, Frank Stein and Paul S. May Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation, California Pacific Medical Center, Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, San Francisco, CA)


Article by Donald C. Fletcher, MD.
First published in January 2015; Last reviewed on March 23, 2022.

Donald C. Fletcher, MD

Donald C. Fletcher, MD

Donald C. Fletcher, MD is one of the world’s leading authorities on low vision rehabilitation and is a clinician and researcher in the field of retinal diseases and low vision rehabilitation. He is an Affiliate Scientist with the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco.