VA Palo Alto Health Care System
The Visual Skills department takes a comprehensive approach in addressing the unique needs of individuals with vision impairment. The Low Vision Optometrist and Visual Skills therapist evaluate the visual abilities of a patient, and create a personalized treatment plan designed to meet the specific goals of program participants.
Included in program planning is a thorough assessment of activity areas in which the vision impairment has made it difficult or impossible to perform. These activity areas may include reading, watching television, hobbies, reading signs, viewing objects at a distance, as well as recognizing facial features. The Low Vision Optometrist may prescribe optical or electronic magnification devices that will improve one's ability to access visual information for near, intermediate, or distance viewing tasks.
A majority of legally blind individuals have some useable vision, and the Visual Skills Program is tailored to maximize the remaining vision. In addition to providing treatment with visual adaptive devices, the program provides instruction on compensatory visual skills or utilization of systematic techniques for scanning, tracking fixating and viewing eccentrically. Additionally, the Visual Skills program incorporates the use of lighting, color, contrast and other environmental modifications that make everyday tasks easier. Working one-on-one with the Visual Skills Therapist the patient has the opportunity to apply the prescribed devices and techniques in a variety of settings to ensure skill development and encourage confidence building, which fosters improved self-esteem and greater independence for the patient.