Low Vision and Occupational Therapy

What is low vision?

Low vision is a condition caused by eye disease.  It is uncorrectable vision loss that interferes with daily activities.  In other words, low vision prevents people from doing whatever they need/want to do and can vary from person to person.  Most eye care professionals use the term ‘low vision’ to describe permanently reduced vision that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses or surgery.


Common types of low vision: 

  • Cataracts – Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. They are cloudy areas in the eye’s lens and cause blurred or reduced vision.
  • Age-related macular degeneration – This condition damages the eye’s central vision and can affect one’s ability to see objects clearly.
  • Glaucoma – This is a condition where the fluid in the eye increases, leading to nerve damage in the eye.
  • Diabetic retinopathy – This condition is a complication of diabetes that increases the growth of abnormal blood vessels that block blood flow to the retina.


Age-related vision loss can develop gradually, and many older adults are unaware they do not see as well as they used to.  They may notice that colors aren’t as vibrant, reading is a bit more difficult or they have more trouble seeing at night.


Occupational Therapy’s Role in Treating Older Adults with Low Vision

Low vision can significantly decrease a person’s functional ability and independence.  As the number of older adults increases in our population, the number of those suffering from low vision will also increase.  Restoring and maintaining function is the goal of occupational therapy.


Occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants are essential members of the interdisciplinary team providing low-vision rehab.  OTs focus on enhancing performance for activities of daily living by training skills that are dependent on vision, such as reading and writing.   OTs also provide environmental assessments in the home to improve safety and increase independence.


Home Safety Tips for Those With Low vision

  • Remove throw rugs and/or cords on the floor
  • Remove clutter and keep hallways/walkways clear
  • Mark steps with bright colored tape
  • Make sure nightlights are set up and automatic throughout the house
  • Ensure phones and clocks are set with large fonts


Low Vision Aids

Your occupational therapist may suggest low vision aids to help older adults with vision disorders to live as independently as possible.

  • Magnifiers that allow those with low vision to use a computer, sew or read
  • Large print books and or puzzles
  • Clocks, remotes and timers with large, easy-to-read numbers
  • Magnifying screens for TVs, computers, tablets and phones.
  • Set up audible reminders for medications, bills, etc.
  • Large print calendars and/or organizers


To help identify and diagnose eye problems as soon as possible, encourage older adults to have an annual eye exam.  Although cures are not always available for certain eye diseases, occupational therapy can provide support and assistive devices to improve or preserve vision and keep you as independent and safe as possible.



This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Aegis Therapies welcomes all persons in need of its services and does not discriminate on the basis of age, disability, race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or source of payment. Interpreter Services are available at no cost. Please visit your local Aegis Therapies location for assistance. Servicios de interpretación están disponibles sin costo. Visite su sucursal local de Aegis Therapies para recibir asistencia. 我们提供免费传译服务。请探访您的本地Aegis Therapies地点以获得协助

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