What is Low Vision?

Low vision is a visual impairment severe enough to limit ability to complete many necessary daily living activities but which allows some usable vision.

  • It is a chronic medical condition affecting 1 in 6 adults over 45 years of age.
  • It is the third leading cause of disability in the elderly, preceded only by cardiac disease and arthritis.
  • It is a condition which primarily affects older adults: 2/3 of persons with low vision are over 65 years of age.

In older adults, it is caused primarily by three diseases:

  • Macular degeneration
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • There is no cure and in most cases vision loss is permanent.

Why is rehabilitation needed?

Persons with low vision often have difficulty using their remaining vision efficiently and effectively to complete needed daily activities.

They experience difficulty performing many basic activities including grooming cooking, paying bills and shopping.

Their safety often is at risk and they report difficulty:

  • Using knives to chop and slice foods
  • Judging depth on stairs and curbs
  • Monitoring glucose levels and identifying medications
  • Accurately dialing emergency telephone numbers such as 911
  • Identifying spoiled foods, dials on stoves, and water spilled on floors

Visual impairment has been identified as one of the primary contributors to falls in the elderly. Despite these many difficulties, most older adults with low vision remain in their own homes and most live alone with only minimal outside assistance.

How occupational therapy can help

Occupational therapy focuses on enabling the person with visual impairment to safely and independently complete the daily living tasks compromised by vision loss.


  • Teaching the person to use remaining vision as efficiently as possible to complete activities
  • Modifying activities so they can be completed with less vision
  • Training the person to use adaptive equipment to compensate for vision loss
  • Training is completed in the person’s home and community environment to ensure carryover into the person’s daily activities.

Other Conditions Treated

Other conditions affecting vision addressed by occupational therapy include:

  • Stroke
  • Brain Injury
  • Concussion


  • Blurry and double vision
  • Loss of central field, visual neglect, and difficulty navigating environment safely
  • Dizziness and headache
  • Inability to read and tunnel vision
Please contact Amanda Lundy, OTR, Outpatient Rehab Supervisor, CHRISTUS St. Michael Rehabilitation Hospital at 903.614.4416 with any questions or concerns.