A recent report by Prevent Blindness America puts the annual cost of “Vision Problems” in the US at $139 billion as of 2013. According to their report, “The Cost of Vision Problems,” this includes social and medical costs, and losses in productivity due to vision loss from eye diseases such as: cataracts; age-related macular degeneration (ARMD); glaucoma; and diabetic retinopathy. These costs have risen sharply, in recent years, due to an aging population, and the increased medical costs of new procedures for eye conditions like cataracts and ARMD.
During the week of June 22-28, 2014, we recognize Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Awareness week, for the professionals who work with individuals with vision impairments. Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (VRTs) provide primary rehabilitation for vision loss, whether it is total blindness, or an acquired vision loss due to macular degeneration or some other progressive disease.
Most of us are familiar with Anne Sullivan, the teacher who worked closely with Helen Keller, a nationally renowned advocate for consumers who are deaf-blind. Anne Sullivan was trained as a “Home Teacher,” the predecessor of the Vision Rehabilitation Therapist. It is fitting that VRT Awareness Week falls the week of June 27th, Helen Keller’s birthday.
Today, VRTs commonly hold a Master’s Degree in Vision Rehabilitation and a national certification. They work with their clients on a wide range of adaptive daily living skills that include personal and home management, employment, communications, safety, recreation and leisure, indoor mobility, and access technology. These skills enable individuals with a vision loss to maintain a high level of independence and work productivity, to help reduce the high cost of vision loss.
VRT services are available from your state’s rehabilitation department, or local non-profit agency, often at no out-of-pocket cost! To locate a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist near you, use the directory on the ACVREP website.
To download as a large print, Word document: Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Awareness Week.