Vision Rehabilitation

Tools for reaching more patients and expanding your practice

Vision Rehabilitation (VR) care can be an important tool to growing and strengthening your practice, whether you are looking to add value to primary eye care services, starting to incorporate VR care into your practice, or already an expert in the field. On this page, you can find VR resources to help you expand and add value to your practice in the following areas:

  • Primary eye care - The AOA is committed to helping all doctors of optometry identify, educate, and refer VR patients
  • Practice growth management - The AOA is committed to helping more optometry practices incorporate VR care
  • Advancing the field - The AOA is committed to facilitating the advancement of VR coverage, scope, research and technology

Currently, our role as eye care physicians is being threatened by insurance plan discrimination, illegal contact lens retailers and online "refraction tests" that attempt to downplay the value of optometry and in-person comprehensive eye exams. Helping patients with chronic vision impairments regain their independence, health and quality of life adds value that is clearly visible to patients, dispels the notion that eye care be replaced by online tools, and ultimately increases patient loyalty as well as referrals.

For more VR updates and to be listed on AOA's Doctor Locator as a practice with an emphasis in Vision Rehabilitation, please join the Vision Rehabilitation Advocacy Network.

In June 2019, the AOA Board of Trustees approved a new definition of vision rehabilitation. 

The updated AOA policy is included below:

Model of Care: Vision rehabilitation is a process of care for individuals with vision impairment(s) managed by doctors of optometry (or other eye physicians) as part of the eye and vision care continuum. This clinical process begins with an eye examination which includes all areas of a comprehensive adult or pediatric eye and vision examination as the physician deems necessary or appropriate[1, 2], with evaluation to specifically assess the visual impairment which may include visual and non-visual pathways and its impact on function.  It also includes development of an individualized treatment plan; shared clinical decision making; and management of the patient's vision impairment(s).  The model of care for patients with vision impairment parallels the physical medicine and rehabilitation care model for individuals of all ages with visual impairment(s) where the doctor of optometry identifies and leads an appropriate patient-centered care team.[3]  Ongoing re-evaluation of the patient to address changing vision and/or patient needs and priorities leads to subsequent changes in treatment strategies to meet desired health outcomes.[4],[5]

Defined Treatment: Vision rehabilitation care and services managed by doctors of optometry can include, but are not limited to: clinical procedures necessary to assess and document the level of vision impairment, history, evaluation and plan of care; counseling; coordination of care; prescription of optical, non-optical, electronic, and other treatment options, integration of treatment with clinical therapy and use of treatment to optimize visual functioning; and the prescription and/or performance of therapeutic procedures, strategies, and/or techniques that may be administered as appropriate by state-licensed, certified, and/or regulated professionals that reduce, stabilize, or prevent vision disability, improve function and support activities of daily living including, but not limited to, enhancements to reading, learning, ambulating safely, and the pursuit of activities associated with improved and protected individual health. It is important to note that continued optometric care of the eyes and visual system and diseases/conditions related to the visual impairment must continue parallel to the process of vision rehabilitation.

[1] AOA Clinical Practice Guidelines- Adult Eye Exam aoa.uberflip.com/i/578152-aoa-clinical-practice-guidelines-adult-eye-exam
[2] AOA Clinical Practice Guideline:  Comprehensive Pediatric Eye and Vision Examination
[3] Grover LL. Examination of the patient with low vision: entrée into vision rehabilitation. In Albert and Jacobiec's Principles and Practices in Ophthalmology, 3rd Edition, Elsevier, 2008.
[4] American Optometric Association. (2009). Care of the Patient with Visual Impairment: Low Vision Rehabilitation. Retrieved on Sept. 19, 2009 from aoa.org/documents/CPG-14.pdf
[5] "Making Eye Health a Population Health Imperative: Vision for Tomorrow"  National Academy of Sciences. nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2016/making-eye-health-a-population-health-imperative-vision-for-tomorrow.aspx

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Vision Rehab Topics