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Low Vision includes different degrees of sight loss which are most commonly caused or often the result of age-related macular degeneration, diabetes, and glaucoma. Being referred to a low vision specialist may be an indication that your vision cannot be improved with glasses, contact lenses, or other standard treatments like medicine or surgery.

There is hope. If you have untreatable vision loss and find it difficult to do everyday activities, our low vision services team can help you maximize your functional vision and maintain your independence.

Our program is a national model for comprehensive vision rehabilitation care and includes:

  • Comprehensive low vision evaluation by a residency trained low vision optometrist and a specialty certified occupational therapist.
  • Individualized rehabilitation with an occupational therapist who addresses the patient’s particular functional vision and their needs and interests including reading, writing, and activities of daily living at home and in the community

Watch our latest content on Low Vision

Screenshots of 2023 Community Lecture on Low Vision featuring Karen Lin, OD and Nilima Tanna, OT

At your low vision exam, our low vision specialist will provide the following services:

  • A review of your vision history and your vision goals
  • Perform specialized visual acuity testing and trial frame refraction
  • Perform central visual field testing to map blind spots or areas of distortion that can affect near tasks
  • Assess ocular functions such as contrast sensitivity
  • Determine whether low vision optical devices, better lighting, large print reading materials, or other aids can help you use your functional vision more effectively
  • Provide you with strategies to maximize the use of residual vision and inform you of our specialized low vision occupational therapist services, and other resources
"Recently, a caregiver brought in a patient who was so uncommunicative they weren’t sure if he could read English. When we put a pair of high-power reading glasses on the man, he perked up, began talking and reading aloud. Another patient cried tears of joy when she looked at a photo of her grandchild through a magnifying device." -Karen Lin - Low Vision Specialist at the UCI Gavin Herbert Eye Institute

Follow up sessions by the occupational therapist are usually provided in your setting for optimal results. In a typical 75-minute session, the occupational therapist observes how the patient functions in their home and assesses what they want and need to accomplish. Other parts of the visit include:

  • Collaboration with low vision optometrist in identifying appropriate devices for reading
  • Training in using magnifiers and technology to help you read and write
  • Strategies and training to increase efficiency and ability to use the vision you have for your daily tasks
  • Training to gain independence in your meaningful activities such as eating, cooking, watching TV, managing medications, leisure etc.
  • Environmental adaptations and advice on lighting, glare control, contrast enhancement and home safety measures.
  • Introduction to community and national resources.
“It’s about getting to know each person, their social support network and how they’re coping with their impairment psychologically. If they also have cognitive issues, how do we adjust to make things simple enough for them to participate in a rehabilitation process? I really want to know what their day-to-day life is like so that I can understand who they are and what their goals are." -Nilima Tanna - Occupational Therapist at the UCI Gavin Herbert Eye Institute
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Braille Institute

Braille Institute is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to positively transform the lives of those with vision loss. Braille Institute serves more than 37,000 people through a variety of free programs, classes and services at centers and community outreach locations throughout Southern California – from Santa Barbara to San Diego counties!

Braille Institute
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Beyond Blindness

Beyond Blindness, formerly Blind Children’s Learning Center, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the mission of empowering children with visual impairments and other disabilities to achieve their fullest potential. Areas of service include Early Intervention, Education + Enrichment, and Family Support, which all aim to help children, no matter their abilities, live full and rewarding lives.

Beyond Blindness
California Department of Social Services

Under the Office of Special Services, the Office of Services to the Blind (OSB) provides information and referral on services, programs, entitlements, and products of benefit to individuals who are blind or low vision and their families or service providers. OSB staff assists such individuals in understanding the availability of services, their eligibility for services, and the purpose and scope of the various service programs.

CA Department of Social Services
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Find a Provider

Whether you need a routine eye exam or care for complex vision problems, the internationally respected ophthalmologists at the UCI Health Gavin Herbert Eye Institute will provide you with the highest quality of care to treat your vision problems. 

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Find a Location

The UCI Health Gavin Herbert Eye Institute has locations in Orange at the UCI Medical Center, and also in Irvine on the UCI Campus.