Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired

Low Vision Services

Overview of Services

Low Vision Services provides an opportunity for visually impaired Virginians to maximize their visual abilities through a community based full service vision rehabilitation process. This unique process is managed by a group of professionals with varied and specialized skills who coordinate the delivery of the services that include counseling for the customer and family, a functional vision assessment, a clinical assessment, training in the use of optical and non-optical aids, suggesting environmental modifications if necessary and providing on-site school, home and job consultations to assist the customer to use his/her remaining vision. The interdisciplinary team considers all phases of the customer’s life with the ultimate goal of making life better and more efficient in spite of the severity of the visual problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a low vision exam and what my doctor has provided?

What your doctor provided was an exam to check the health of your eye. A Low Vision exam is concerned with finding you ways to remain independent with your remaining vision.

What is the cost of a low vision exam provided through the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired?

We pay our examiners $200 for a low vision exam. Once you become a patient of ours we will pay for the exam but you may have to pay for the prescribed aids.

Why didn’t my doctor tell me about this service?

Your doctor probably did not know about the service. They are busy trying to keep you healthy and haven’t had any experience with rehabilitation.

What does low vision mean?

Low Vision means your vision has been reduced to the point that conventional aids and glasses prescribed in a doctor’s office will not work. It is time to move on to more specialty aids that you don’t find in a regular office.

Why can’t my doctor provide this service?

Your doctor is there to provide medical care for your eye condition. Providing rehabilitation would not be practical in that setting.

Will insurance pay for low vision aids?

So far we have found no insurance that will pay for optical aids.

Can’t I just purchase some magnifiers from a catalog?

You could purchase optical aids from a catalog but how would you know what to purchase? What magnifying power is best for you? Do you want an illuminated or non-illuminated aid? Does a hand held magnifier or stand magnifier work best for you? Ordering from a catalog sometimes sets people up for failure as they order an aid that does not work and then they think that magnifiers won’t work for them. We can help you choose the right one for the task.

Does the state give us the optical aids?

We are not a social service agency so we don’t give aids to our customers unless they fall in a certain income level. Most people pay for the prescribed aids.

I read in a magazine that this machine that costs $2000 will give me my vision back.

These machines are closed circuit televisions that magnify an image on a TV screen. They can enlarge letters up to 30 times but they won’t give you your vision back. There are many types of aids out there designed to help you see better. However, you should consult with someone who is familiar with optical aids to help you choose the right aid for your particular situation. There is not one aid that fits all.

How can I receive a low vision exam?

To receive a low vision exam you must be referred to us for services. You can refer yourself or have your doctor refer you. Someone from the agency will call you and ask questions about your needs and expectations.

Is the staff at VDBVI trained to do low vision exams?

Staff members do not do the exams but they do functional assessments, which means collecting important information about how you use your vision. They take the information they have collected to the low vision examiner who will do the clinical exam. The functional information gives the examiner an idea of what you need and how to meet your goals. Our staff will also provide training to you with any prescribed low vision aids.

What are low vision aids?

Low Vision aids are special optical aids that are not available in a regular office setting. They can be hand held, illuminated or non-illuminated, worn as glasses, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and powers. They are prescriptive items and are not available without an exam. If you went into an optical shop and asked for a pair of glasses they would ask you for the prescription. Low vision aids are no different, you must know what you need before trying to perform a task.

Program Director Information

For further information, please contact Marge Owens, Director of Low Vision Services.
Telephone: (804) 371-3344
Toll Free: (800) 622-2155
Email: Marge Owens

This File Was Last Modified: Wednesday January 06 2016