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The Low Vision Handbook
The Basic Bookshelf for Eyecare Professionals
By Barbara Brown

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The Low Vision Handbook

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The Low Vision Handbook
The Basic Bookshelf for Eyecare Professionals
By Barbara Brown
Slack Incorporated, (1997)
Standard Print -- ISBN: 1-55642-329-2
Genre: Low Vision

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - January 13, 2002

The Low Vision Handbook by Barbara Brown is part of The Basic Bookshelf for Eyecare Professionals series. As such, it serves many purposes. Not only does the The Low Vision Handbook provide an overview of what is required to set up a low vision practice, but it also serves as a study guide for individuals studying for their low vision sub specialty certification exam. It also provides a comprehensive overview of the low vision field, and an explanation of what, exactly, low vision is. It will also be of use to professionals, para professionals, as well as for individuals with low vision.

This book is divided into ten, thematic chapters covering:

Introduction to Low Vision

This chapter defines the term low vision and offers an overview of the services offered in a low vision practice.

Optical Low Vision Aids

Offering a detailed survey of available optical low vision aids, including a variety of magnifiers, telescopes, and low vision spectacles. This topic includes information about what various aids are used for, how they should be prescribed, and how they should be used by the patient.

Nonoptical and Electronic Low Vision Aids

This section covers nonopitcal aids such as lighting, sunglasses, and writing and reading aids, including braille. It also covers electronic aids such as software programs such as screen reading programs, closed circuit televisions (CCTV's). This section also offers advice on how to determine which aids a patient might need, and the training involved in using the various aids.

History Taking

How and when to take a low vision history.

Assessment of Visual Function

This chapter explains how to assess a patient's visual function. It also explains, in detail, the various test used in testing low vision, and how they differ from traditional testing methods.

For those with low vision, this chapter will be especially relevant. It clearly delineates what everyone with low vision knows, just because a traditional eye exam says that you can see XYZ, it does not mean that you can see that well, functionally. For example, in regard to near vision testing, the book states:
Traditionally, ophthalmic and optometric assistants are taught to encourage patients to guess and struggle when testing acuity. Acuity is recorded as the absolute maximum numbers of letters that are guessed correctly. Because low vision is concerned with functional visual ability, the technique is different...In low vision, we record near acuity as the smallest size of print that can be read fluently and easily. When a patient begins to struggle with print, it is too small." (Pg. 62)
Selecting Aids for Individuals

Help in selecting the right vision aids to meet the patient's needs and goals, and the tremendous importance of taking into account the cost of various items, especially when they are not covered by insurance.

Rehabilitation and Referrals

A general list describing the various agencies to which you can refer you patients, as well as an explanation of what various rehabilitation personnel do.

Setting Up a Low Vision Service

General overview of what you need to know in order to set up a low vision practice, includes a list of equipment needed.

The Psychology of Visual Loss

A brief primer on the psychological effects of vision loss, it also offers advice on how you can help your patients deal with their vision loss.

Case Histories

Traditional case histories that present an overview of the patient's complaint, their history, the results of their vision tests, and treatment recommendations.

This book also includes two very useful appendices. One is a basic glossary, and the other, a short list of low vision resources on the Internet. As well, The Low Vision Handbook is well illustrated with illustrations that highlight the various aids being described. A handy tool for those using this book to study for exams are the "key points." These "key points" are found at the beginning of each chapter, and they highlight the most important elements covered in each section. In addition, throughout the book, are sections entitled "What the patient Needs to Know" that offers advice on how to talk with patients, and emphasis the information that your patients should know before leaving your office. Overall, this is a well organized and handy book, which covers the basics of low vision and setting up a low vision practice.

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