For patients with low vision, ordinary prescription glasses are usually not sufficient to help with many distance and near tasks.

Low vision devices can enhance remaining vision or other senses to substitute for lost vision and help patients become more independent. Low vision devices can be non-optical, optical or electronic assistive devices. Typical low vision devices include microscopes, hand-held magnifiers, stand magnifiers, telescopes and telemicroscopes (See P. 22-26 of AOA's Vision Rehabilitation Resource Manual for more detailed descriptions).

Each device has its optical and functional advantages and limitations, which must be matched with the patient's needs. Vision rehabilitation practitioners must evaluate and match patients to the low vision device that best addresses their needs as well as train patients on how to properly use these devices (See P. 7-13 of Vision Rehabilitation Resource Manual).

Primary eye care & low vision devices

As primary eye care physicians, doctors of optometry should be aware of available low vision technology and how it can benefit patients with low vision. When examining patients, doctors of optometry should identify patients that would benefit from low vision devices/services, explain the range of options to those patients and make referrals to vision rehabilitation practitioners.


Many patients do not realize that low vision devices, adaptations and training can help improve their quality of life or that doctors of optometry can help provide such services. Many other patients do not have access to devices due to lack of coverage or vision rehabilitation practitioners in their area. The AOA is committed to helping connect more patients in need of low vision services and devices with doctors of optometry, which includes:

  1. Educating policymakers, patients and other professions about the importance and impact of low vision services and devices provided by doctors of optometry

  2. Providing and guiding members to resources on
    • The newest VR technologies
    • How to identify and educate patients in need of LV devices
    • Refer, educate or provide LV devices

  3. Advocating for increased coverage and access to low vision devices


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