JUN 10, 2010
This editorial urges ophthalmologists to educate blind and visually-impaired patients about the possibility of obtaining nonvisual skills instead of telling such patients there is nothing more they can do for them. The ability of ophthalmologists to provide information regarding the availability of vision rehabilitation services, specifically nonvisual skills, as well as the encouragement to make use of them can make a profound impact on the independence and productivity of these individuals, the authors say.
Although cataract surgeons are used to winning and 20/20 outcomes, we must be attuned to helping all patients achieve maximum potential. However, blind and visually-impaired individuals of all ages frequently are advised to utilize their remaining vision, predominantly by means of low-vision aids, the authors say. For blind individuals especially, putting emphasis on unreliable vision can foster an attitude of dependence rather than independence.
The authors explain that nonvisual skills are available to blind and visually-impaired people of all ages seeking higher education or attaining or maintaining competitive careers. Such skills can include improving orientation and mobility, learning braille and attaining competency in technologies that improve communication and broaden access to information. The authors say that their years of experience have shown them that many motivated blind and visually-impaired individuals who are given access to these skills can achieve or maintain integration within their communities and be competitive at obtaining higher education and employment.