Low-vision rehabilitation needs of visually impaired people

All eye care practitioners should have the knowledge to be able to signpost and refer patients to relevant rehabilitation services in their area that may benefit them.

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It is difficult for visually impaired people (VIPs) to know what rehabilitation services are available that may be of benefit to them. Appropriate services are covered by health, social care and voluntary sectors, with significant differences in the services available in different areas of the UK. The eye care practitioner has an important role, not only in providing optical advice and low-vision aids, but also in signposting patients to those services that go beyond the practitioner’s own remit. At a minimum, practitioners should know how to refer their patients to hospital eye service low-vision services, to local-authority sensory service teams, and to local voluntary societies for the visually impaired. Additional providers of relevant services for practitioners to be aware of are discussed, and links to further resources provided. There is a lack of good-quality evidence of the need for low-vision services and of service effectiveness. Such evidence is needed for guiding commissioning decisions regarding provision of future low-vision services.

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