Low Vision Research Program

The Low Vision Research Program within the Department of Ophthalmology-Research is committed to improving the quality of life for patients who are visually impaired. The program uses a variety of techniques and technologies to allow patients with vision loss to use their remaining vision to lead independent, productive lives.

The program is studying the effects of vision rehabilitation services on the quality of life of patients. Researchers are studying ways to more accurately assess the measured gains in visual function. Other research is determining the types of vision loss and the level of visual functioning of patients in low vision rehabilitation settings.

Results of this work help determine which treatment strategies work the best and which structured rehabilitation programs are most effective for individual patients.

Posterior cortical atrophy

The Low Vision Research Program is also working to determine the origins of visual perception problems caused by posterior cortical atrophy.

Patients with this condition — which is sometimes referred to as the "visual variant of Alzheimer's disease" — have a wide range of difficulty with even simple tasks such as reading, writing, pouring liquids and identifying familiar objects. There is no known cure for this condition, but the program is working on ways to minimize the effects on visual perception, and designing rehabilitation techniques to cope with these vision changes. The unique aspects of this process may also help in rehabilitating other patients with neurological vision loss.

Vision impairment in children

Children with visual impairment have unique needs and challenges. They also have impaired vision arising from structural and disease processes that are different from adults.

Much of the research on vision rehabilitation is focused on adults. The Low Vision Research Program is studying the validity of using testing and treatment techniques established for adults when used in a pediatric population.