Vision Serve Alliance press release from August 7, 2019 included some revealing statistics. It reported that there were 25.5 million Americans with an age-related eye disease such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinal disease, etc. Each one of them capable of creating a significant vision loss over time. Of that number, only 3% is receiving the vision rehabilitation services that will help them maintain their independence and quality of life. Kendra Farrow CVRT, research associate at MS State and vision rehabilitation therapist, spoke about this in a recent interview on Hadley Presents.
The major focus of this coalition will be: 1. Awareness; 2. Funding; and 3. Expanding qualified personel.
Regarding awareness, I wonder how many of these 25.5 million are aware that there may be services provided through state agency, and local agencies, with certified vision rehabilitation therapists, certified orientation and mobility specialist, certified low vision therapists, and certified assistive technology specialists, among other highly trained, masters degree level specialists that are often available at no cost, or a sliding scale? No referral from an eye doctor is needed, although some agencies may require a certain level of vision loss to qualify for services. In many cases, these services may be provided in the home, as well.
Often, these services refer to “blindness” or “visual impairment” in their titles or description of services, and many people with an acquired vision loss do not consider themselves blind or visually impaired. Many people may also resist using a “state agency,” however, this is often where these trained professionals work.
One of the best resources for locating services is the VisionAware Directory of Services where services can be located by state, or the APH Connect Center by telephone at 1-800-232-5463.
If you’ve recently developed a vision loss, there are services available to you–don’t be one of the 97% who risks independence and quality of life because you didn’t hear about vision rehabilitation services. If you are a doctor, or other professional, working with patients and clients with a vision loss, what are you waiting for? Why aren’t you suggesting a certified vision rehabilitation therapist?