February is Low Vision Awareness Month. Low vision effects millions of people in the US and throughout the world. The National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute (NEI) defines low vision as a visual impairment that is not correctable by standard glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery, which interferes with a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Low vision may result from a variety of diseases, disorders, and/or injuries affecting the eye including but not limited to macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and retinitis pigmentosa. Low vision may also result from eye cancer, albinism, or brain injury.
Low vision can make activities of daily living (i.e., self-care, shopping, cooking, etc.) and leisure activities (i.e., reading, watching TV, etc.) challenging. However, there are a variety of information and support resources available, such as assistive technology and low vision rehabilitation, which may help people with low vision maximize their remaining vision to maintain their independence and quality of life.
Historically, the National Institute on Independent Living, Disability, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) has funded research related to low vision. There are currently six NIDILRR-funded projects related to low vision including the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment for Individuals with Blindness or Low Vision at the Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC). Under its current iteration, the center conducts research on the efficacy of rehabilitation services and technology used to support improved employment outcomes for individuals who are blind or low vision (B/LV) including three specific subpopulations: youth or are B/LV, people who are Deaf-blind, and people with combined traumatic brain injury and B/LV. Additionally, a search of our REHABDATA database resulted in over 600 documents related to low vision and rehabilitation across a variety of topic areas including employment, job searching and training programs, transportation, activities of daily living, and assistive technology among others.
If you are looking for research in this area, or need to connect to resources in your community, please contact our information specialists!