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H. Gillespie-Gallery, M. Conway, A. Subramanian; Services for Visually Impaired People in the UK: Is There Room for Improvement?. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(13):3638.
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Low vision rehabilitation is one of the priorities for Vision 2020 and can take several forms, from the provision of low vision aids to counselling. The current study aimed to determine what support mechanisms are in place for patients with low vision and what services eye care professionals felt should be available in the UK.
A previously validated questionnaire investigating the aim of the study was completed online by a sample of clinical staff such as optometrists and ophthalmologists as well as by rehabilitation workers.
1. For most services, responses suggested an under provision; i.e. services were often deemed essential, but were not always provided, particularly family support (essential: 85%; available: 32%) and emotional support (essential: 98%; available: 68%). However, other services deemed essential were widely available such as explanation of the cause of vision loss.2. Rehabilitation workers were more likely to report a lower provision of services when compared to clinical staff [p<0.10 for 6 out of 9 services].3. A disparity was also found between the type of staff that rated certain services as essential [p<0.10]; Rehabilitation workers were more likely to rate emotional support and referral to social services as essential, whereas clinical staff were more likely to rate explanation of non optical aids (such as the use of appropriate lighting) as essential.4. There was also significant overlap in the services provided by clinical staff and rehabilitation workers.
There is a need to increase the provision of certain services such as family and emotional support. There appears to be a lack of communication between clinical and social services and a tendency for eye care professionals to rate the services that they understand and carry out more favourably. Finally, there is overlap in the services provided by clinical and rehabilitation staff suggesting that there is no common treatment pathway. These results suggest there is a need for a low vision co-ordinator to provide a greater range of low vision services, bridge the gap between social and clinical low vision care and organise the provision of other services to prevent overlap.
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