As a practice, your job is to ensure your patients get the care they need, especially when it has to do with their eye health. But what happens when you can no longer help them? What if their vision has gotten so poor that you can no longer provide the care they require?
For the month of October, to celebrate World Sight Day with Optometry Giving Sight, we want to highlight the importance of eye health by partnering up with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) to raise awareness and about the programs available to patients with impaired vision. Here are some ways to help your patients when their vision has become too poor to provide help.
FINDING THE RIGHT ORGANIZATION
David Demers, executive director at the CNIB foundation in Quebec says that it’s very important for optometrists to have the right knowledge on the various organizations out there that have the right tools and knowledge to help people with low vision or vision impairment.
In Canada, the CNIB has chapters throughout the country and is a useful organization that optometrists can recommend to patients whose vision has deteriorated to a point where they can no longer find help with an optometrist or ophthalmologists. According to David, sooner is always better than later when it comes to rehabilitation, especially for patients who are experiencing steady rate of vision loss. David says it’s better to seek out help so that organizations like CNIB, who are set up with the right tools and knowledge, can start offering important information and support so patients can move forward.
In the U.S., there are many organizations across the country that be valuable to people who are experiencing some form of vision loss or deteriorating eye health. David recommends looking for your local Department of Blind Services as well as the National Industry for the Blind. Both services can typically be found in each state so it’s important to find out what’s available in your area and make contact with. Another great source could be the Lighthouse for the Blind, a reputed source for vision loss rehabilitation or the Johns Hopkins Medicine Center.
TYPES OF SERVICES
Organizations like the CNIB, the Lighthouse for the Blind and the National Industry for the Blind offer a variety of services that can help people with vision loss to navigate a new lifestyle that will eventually be altered drastically once their vision gets worse.
In order to know which organization is right for your patient, it can be a good first step to do some research and find out what organizations can be found in your area. Give them a call and find out what specific resources and services they can offer. That way, if a patient ever needs one of these services, you will have the right information on where exactly to refer them.
THE IMPORTANCE OF REHABILITATION
There are many organizations across North America that are dedicated to helping people with low vision or blindness. Some people may be born with low vision but other experience it later in life. For people who experience a sudden loss in their vision, it can be overwhelming and frightening to go through such a life-altering experience. David is one of those people who lost his vision quite literally at the blink of an eye. He knows what it is like to have to relearn basic life skills due to vision loss. That is why now, he strongly advocates for rehabilitation services for people who may experience something similar.
For him, the CNIB got his life back on track and helped realize his full potential, despite the obstacles he faced. As a practice, it is vital to stay informed about what kind of organizations are around you because you may have patients who will benefit from those services. Your clinic will play a key role in the transitional process for your patient.