by: Megan Brooks
Many baby boomers who could benefit from low vision therapy aren’t getting it for a variety reasons, including a lack of a standard definition of low vision and lack of referral to low vision specialists, a new survey shows.
“Despite the clear advantages, there remains a discrepancy between the number of patients who would benefit from low vision services and utilization of these services,” report investigators from the New England College of Optometry, Boston, Massachusetts.
“While there have been studies geared towards patient barriers (economic status, physical distance from an office, etc), there wasn’t really any research focusing on what we as optometrists could do to improve the efficacy of referrals to low vision specialists,” Anne Bertolet, who worked on the survey, told Medscape Medical News.
The investigators surveyed 19 primary care optometrists who were members of the Massachusetts Society of Optometrists and eight low vision specialists at optometry schools across the country. They asked about low vision definitions, available resources, and referral practices.
Bertolet reported the survey results at the American Academy of Optometry 2014 Annual Meeting in Denver.
Fourteen of the 19 primary care optometrists said they refer patients to low vision specialists. But a major finding, Bertolet said, was the discrepancy between how low vision specialists and primary care optometrists define low vision.
“The majority of low vision optometrists use a functional definition of low vision: any visual impairment that can hinder quality of life or daily functioning,” she explained. “On the other hand, primary care optometrists were a lot more varied in their definition, with less than half choosing a functional definition and the rest opting for various best-corrected visual acuity-based definitions.”
With differing opinions, there are likely some patients who could benefit from low vision services, but are missing out because of low referral rates, Bertolet said.
Not Getting Needed Help
Currently, there is no single definition of low vision. “Our research suggests that developing a standardized definition of low vision would be advantageous to help standardize the referral and treatment processes,” Bertolet said……….
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Source: Medscape