Vision Rehabilitation

An essential component of optometry and healthcare

Eye doctors are a crucial part of the care team for patients suffering from low vision, brain injuries and vision impairments that cannot be corrected by refractive, medical or surgical treatments.

"For individuals with vision impairment that cannot be corrected by available refractive, medical, or surgical treatments, vision rehabilitation has the potential to prevent depression and emotional distress and to improve or maintain [Quality of Life], the ability to perform daily activities, and overall visual ability."
-National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), P. 382

As physicians, doctors of optometry are uniquely situated to manage these patients' ocular health and visual function, which are essential components to their overall health, quality of life and independence.

Unfortunately, many patients who need vision rehabilitation are never referred to an eye doctor and told that nothing more can be done to help improve their visual function.

These patients are not only missing critical eye health management, but are also missing out on services that can truly improve their quality of life: neuro optometric and low vision devices, resources and training. 

Barriers to care

Our role as eye care physicians is threatened by insurance plan discrimination, lack of coverage for services provided by doctors of optometry as well as unscrupulous contact lens retailers and online "refraction tests."

At the heart of these threats is an attempt to limit our role in patients' health and separate our profession from the rest of health care. These threats make it harder to connect patients to doctors of optometry, address their vision rehabilitation needs and manage the vision rehabilitation team. The AOA is committed to helping patients, policymakers and other professions understand that routine visits to a doctor of optometry is essential for eye, vision and overall health of patients.

Strengthening our role as eye care physicians through Vision Rehabilitation

  1. Provide doctors of optometry with resources that help manage and address their patients vision rehabilitation needs.
  2. Ensure that all doctors of optometry can practice vision rehabilitation to the fullest extent of their education, training and skills.
  3. Help policymakers, other providers and the public understand that doctors of optometry are experts in managing the care and/or needs of patients with vision impairments.
  4. Advocate for increased coverage and access to vision rehabilitation services and devices.