New Portable Video Magnifier Helps Low-Vision Users to Read on the Go

New Portable Video Magnifier Helps Low-Vision Users to Read on the Go Ai Squared, the worldwide leader in screen magnification software for the visually impaired, has unveiled a new handheld device that helps people in need of visual assistance read, shop and write on the go.

The i-loview portable video magnifier is a sleek, ergonomically designed and lightweight device that enlarges text and objects for reading. Equipped with a powerful camera and 4.3-inch widescreen display, the i-loview allows users to easily zoom in on written material and physical objects as well as to perform daily activities like read a newspaper, check prices at the grocery store or write a check.

Ai Squared partnered with Chris Park Designs to create and exclusively distribute the i-loview, the first in a series of hardware products for the vision impaired community as well as for people with age-related eye conditions. The i-loview handheld video magnifier complements Ai Squared’s suite of best-selling low vision solutions that include ZoomText, the world’s leading screen magnification and reading software, as well as the ZoomReader app for the iPhone.

According to the National Federation of the Blind, approximately 1.3 million people in the U.S. are legally blind, and 75,000 more become blind or develop visual impairments each year. Every year, millions of Americans also incur age-related eye conditions, such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.

As market leaders in the low vision technology space, Ai Squared created the i-loview keeping the needs of these individual users in mind. The eight-ounce device offers unmatched image clarity and stability while scrolling – the text stays readable and won’t blur, even as users move the device around. Other unique features include twelve zoom levels offering up to 17x magnification; four levels of brightness; sixteen contrast levels and five color modes to accommodate individual needs.

The i-loview can be connected to a TV or closed circuit TV (CCTV) for a larger viewing experience. It also comes with an SD card for saving pictures on the device for reference at a later time.

“The i-loview combines superior design, image quality and functionality to make it a best-in-class portable magnifier,” says Doug Hacker, Vice President of Business Development at Ai Squared. “It’s ideal for anyone with low vision or in need of visual assistance who wants a pocket-sized, easy-to-use magnifier that’s as powerful as it is beautiful to look at and hold.”

Learn more about the i-loview device at To purchase the i-loview, call 800-859-0270 or go to The first 200 orders placed will receive $50 off the retail price of $695.

About Ai Squared
Headquartered in Manchester, Vermont, Ai Squared is the worldwide leader in computer access solutions for the vision impaired, and has been for over 20 years. Their products are available in over twenty languages and are sold in 45 countries through a network of over 350 dealers across the globe. Ai Squared has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals with early vision loss, computer vision syndrome, and visual impairments such as macular degeneration and glaucoma. Ai Squared’s screen magnification and screen reading products dramatically improve a computer’s usability and friendliness for the low vision user, raising their level of productivity, satisfaction, and independence. The family of Ai Squared products includes ZoomText Magnifier, ZoomText Magnifier/Reader, ZoomText Large-Print Keyboard, ZoomText Express, the ZoomReader iPhone app, and the ZoomContacts iPad app. For more information, please visit Ai Squared online at

About Chris Park Designs
C&P, also known as Chris Park Designs, develops and manufactures technology-based products for people with vision loss and learning disabilities. Chris Park Designs has built the best team of CCTV and video technology experts including many former Samsung engineers to develop innovative, feature-rich magnification devices. Chris Park Designs engineers have an average of over 25 years’ experience in the Vision System, CCTV, Camera, Camcorder control/solution technologies, with expertise in developing crisp, real-time video imaging. No other company has the design expertise that C& P has leveraged to develop this professional video magnifier product line. For more information please visit

Social Entrepreneur Bringing Quality Vision Care to India’s Poor

Social Entrepreneur Bringing Quality Vision Care to India's PoorDr. R.V. Ramani, founder of the Sankara Eye Care in Coimbatore, India, has created a successful healthcare model to deliver quality vision care to the underprivileged in rural India. Dr. Ramani’s social enterprise model works on a unique 20/80 principle where 20 percent of the patients pay for the free treatment of the remaining 80 percent of the patients who cannot afford to pay.

Dr. Ramani and his dedicated team of eye doctors perform 500 eye surgeries per day free of cost. Nearly 70 percent of these are cataract surgeries. Over the last two decades Sankara Eye Care institutions have performed more than 0.9 million free eye surgeries across India. Dr. Ramani says that even though the achievements of his group are phenomenal, they remain unsung heroes because they work out of a relatively smaller place like Coimbatore, and not a metropolitan city like New Delhi or Chennai.

Dr. Ramani’s social enterprise for vision care has a clear rural focus. He says about their typical mode of working, “We identify a cluster of 10 villages, and partner with some local women and youth, who help with the initial health survey of the villagers.” Out of every 10,000 villagers on average, about 600 to 700 people suffer from some form of visual impairment. Sankara Eye Care provides them “Gift of Vision” cards.

Thereafter, a team of doctors and paramedics from the closest Sankara Center visits those villages, treats the patients, and transports the patients requiring surgery to the main hospital. The quality of care provided to poor patients is at par with that of the paid patients. Dr. Ramani says, “We do state of the art, sutureless phaco surgery with IOL implants. The actual cost of a cataract with IOL is Rs 2,750 ($60) because we do huge volumes. We implant high-quality lenses made in Chennai.”

Dr. Ramani’s social entrepreneurship and social innovation has led him to replicate the Coimbatore model at eight centers across India. The centers not only provide vision care to the needy, but also equip the local youth from the villages with technical skills to assist in the vision care programs. India is home to the largest number of visually impaired people in the world. Social enterprises such as Dr. Ramani’s Sankara Eye Care can manage to create a ripple effect on the socio-economic structure of rural India without any government aid or support.

Photo Credit: barunpatro

Clinic focuses on declining eyesight in Merced County


Margaret Buchmann-Garcia was taken by surprise 12 years ago when she suddenly began to lose vision in her right eye with no explanation.

“I started seeing dots, and I came home and it happened very quickly overnight,” she recalled Thursday morning.

The worst is that three months later, she also began to lose vision in her left eye. She underwent six surgeries in five months, which helped save some vision in her left eye, leaving her with tunnel vision in that eye.

Now, the 57-year-old woman volunteers part of her time to serve as the executive director of the Center of Vision Enhancement in Merced. The center has been around for a little more than three years, and it serves people who are in situations similar to Buchmann-Garcia’s — dealing with low vision or blindness.

The first year the center opened it only served 30 people, she said. It now serves more than 100.

“It’s a growing number of people who are finding out that we are here,” she said.

The center doesn’t offer doctor’s referrals, but rather provides training for people to better cope with their vision problems. The center has various support groups, and it has different vision aides. “We try to help them deal with it,” she said.

For example, they teach them how to get around the transportation system, and how to cook, among other daily living skills. “We are here to (help them) get their independence back,” Buchmann-Garcia said. “When you lose your sight, you feel isolated.”

About 85 percent of the people who reach out to the center, located at 1240 D St., are 55 and older.

The causes of the vision impairment for those people vary, but includes diabetes and birth vision problems, Buchmann-Garcia said. Macular degeneration is the most common one, she said.

The center, a nonprofit, started as a support group that originated about 16 years ago, said Pamela Strange, a vision impairment specialist who has a private business and helped start the center. “All levels of vision impairment are going to impact a person’s life,” she said. “We are trying to reach those people who don’t know how much help there is.”

On Oct. 13, the center will have a Low Vision Awareness Day event from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Merced Senior Community Center.

The event will feature two speakers, Dr. George Chen, a retired ophthalmologist, and Dr. Thomas Weed, a local ophthalmologist.

In addition, the Lions Eyemobile will be at the site to offer free vision screenings, Strange said, who has helped organize the event for the 12 years. “We are also trying to help prevent vision problems,” Strange said.

For those people who can’t make it for the event in the morning, there will be an extension from 3:30 to 6 p.m. at the Center of Vision Enhancement.

However, Strange said there will only be exhibits during those hours, so she strongly recommends people attend the event earlier in the day.

Buchmann-Garcia said since losing her sight, she’s learned how to use her computer again, use the transportation system and use a cane. “I was falling all over the place,” she said. “I needed to get around without falling.”

Buchmann-Garcia hopes that other people in the area with vision impairments will use the resources and services available at the center. “Contact us, and (don’t) just sit at home and get depressed,” she said.

Buchmann-Garcia said the nearest centers that offer services similar to the Center of Vision Enhancement’s are in Modesto and Fresno.


Keep your eyes peeled on myths

* Reading in dim light is bad for you

Although reading in dim light can cause eye fatigue, it doesn’t permanently damage your vision. If you do experience eye fatigue, simply stop doing whatever it was that caused it and it will go away.

* Sitting close to the television can harm your eyes

Unless you own a television from the 60s, your eyes are at no risk from radiation being emitted by a television screen. Children in particular have a shorter focal distance than adults, so they won’t strain their eyes by sitting too close.

* Eat carrots to see better

Although carrots contain Vitamin A, which helps to protect the surface of the eye or cornea, any balanced diet should contain enough of this vitamin to keep your eyes working without you having to eat like a rabbit.

* If you wear glasses, you get dependent on them

Glasses are the solution for blurred vision; they do not cause a deterioration of eyesight. Of course, once you start wearing glasses and get used to seeing clearly, you will find that you want to wear your glasses more often. This isn’t dependency; it is simply enjoying good, clear vision.

* Nothing can be done to prevent vision loss

If you experience any symptoms like blurred vision, eye pain, flashes of light or floating objects in your vision, see a doctor. Many causes of sight loss can be treated if they are detected early enough.

* People with bad eyesight shouldn’t wear out their eyes by doing detailed work

Reading the fine-print or focusing on fine detail doesn’t damage already weak eyes. The eye is not a muscle – it is more like a camera, and will not wear out sooner just because it’s photographing intricate detail.

* Working at a computer damages your eyes

Most of the eye discomfort you feel after working at a computer is as a result of the fact that you blink less and your eyes are dry. If you can’t take a regular break from looking at the screen, use moistening eyedrops – not antihistamine ones. Anti-glare screens for your monitor can also help reduce discomfort, but result in a slightly blurred image, which itself can cause eye strain. Look after your vision

* Wear UV protective sunglasses

Exposure to UV rays can harm your eyes so protecting them from the sun can prevent loss of eyesight. It is important to buy polarised lenses, not simply darker ones. Also, wear wraparound lenses to protect against UV rays from the sides.

* Wear protective eyewear if necessary

If you work with chemicals or airborne particles, wear goggles or other protective eyewear. The worst harm that you can do to your eyes is from external damage – and there’s no way to replace an eye once it’s been harmed.

* Avoid harsh contrasts in light

Try to place your desk so that windows are to the side rather than directly behind or in front of your computer. The light from overhead fluorescent lights is also typically two to five times brighter than it should be, which causes eye fatigue. If at all possible, try to work with natural light or incandescent light bulbs rather than fluorescent lights.

* Visit an optometrist regularly

Even if your vision is fine, it’s a good idea to visit your optometrist regularly. This will help you to prevent any major problems and will track not just your vision but the health of your eyes as well over the years, as some deterioration can be picked up only by tracking the change in the eye function. Remember that problems caught early can often be arrested, so make sure that you budget for eyecare or use the eyecare allocation in your medical aid. – Source: Profmed

Innovative vision care technology allows early detection

New Zealanders fear losing their vision above memory, hair and even the ability to walk, nationwide research conducted on behalf of eye care provider OPSM reveals.

Despite this, 55 per cent of us say we’d get our eyes checked only if eyesight starts deteriorating, rather than every two years as recommended by optometrists.

The independent survey of more than 1,000 New Zealanders coincides with the completion of a national rollout of Digital Retinal Scanners (DRS) to 46 OPSM stores nationwide.

The innovative vision care technology provides a telling picture of the retina, optic nerve and blood vessels, which can be used to help detect potentially serious vision issues and suspected disease.

“The eyes are more than just windows to the soul,” says OPSM National Eyecare Manager Matt Whiting. “They tell health experts a great deal about a person’s overall wellbeing and can lead to early detection of glaucoma, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, age-related macular degeneration as well as some forms of cancer.”

The survey found less than 35 per cent of respondents were aware hypertension, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer could be detected through an eye test and more than a third believe there is nothing that can be done about worsening vision.

“The fact more than a third of New Zealanders believe there is nothing that can be done about deteriorating vision is disheartening,” says Mr Whiting.

“In addition to regular eye checks, a retinal scan allows the optometrist to deliver a more in depth health assessment for the customer and empower them to increase their education and awareness of eye health. The picture can also be retained to help monitor changes over a prolonged period”.

“To be able to see is an absolute human need. But it’s a very emotional subject and one we often put off or avoid altogether. New Zealanders need to lift their knowledge and awareness around the importance of looking after their eyes and understand they are intrinsically linked to overall wellbeing,” says Mr Whiting.

“As fully trained healthcare professionals, it’s our job to look after the complete health of people’s eyes. Most blindness and vision loss is preventable if detected early, so the importance of retinal scanning technology cannot be underestimated”.

A digital retinal scan is entirely safe and requires only a few minutes in addition to a standard eye test at a cost of $40.

Child eyecare ‘down parents’ list’

Children are more likely to be taken to buy new shoes or for a haircut than have their eyes tested at the optician, a survey suggests.

More than nine in 10 parents (91%) said they take their child to have their hair cut at least once a year, with a similar proportion (89%) saying they go shopping for shoes this often.

But less than half of parents (45%) said they take their child for a eye test at least once a year, according to a poll by Vision Express.

The survey questioned more than 1,000 parents of primary age children (five to 11).

It found that three in 10 (30%) parents say they never take their youngster to the optician, compared with 5% who said the same about getting their child’s hair cut, and 6% who said they never go shopping for new children’s shoes, or to get their feet measured.

Parents were also more likely to take their child to the doctor or to have their teeth checked.

About one in four (26%) parents said they are worried about their child’s eye health, with nearly two-thirds (61%) confident that they could spot the warning signs of eye problems.

Some 13% said they would be concerned about their child being teased at school if they had to wear glasses, the poll found.

Many were also unaware of the problems that can be diagnosed during a routine eye test.

Almost one in three (29%) did not know that the symptoms of eye cancer could be detected through a routine eye test while more than half (58%) did not know that the signs of diabetes could be spotted.

Going Blind Movie: Coming Out of the Dark About Vision Loss


Going Blind is a unique documentary film that increases public awareness of sight loss and low vision issues profoundly affecting the lives of more and more people around the world.

Director Joseph Lovett has glaucoma, a disease that robs 4.5 million people worldwide of their vision. After years of slowly losing his sight, Joe decides to take action: to investigate how people all over the country respond to vision-loss. His search begins small, with people Joe meets on the streets of his hometown New York City and gradually leads him to places and people around the country, of all different ages and backgrounds. Each has a fascinating story about dealing with the vision loss caused by sight-robbing diseases, infections and accidents. As a filmmaker, Joe uses the tool he knows best to gather information, to connect with individuals and to find answers to share with the world.


Going Blind interweaves Joe’s story with that of his fellow subjects. Inviting us into the intimate spaces of the visually impaired and blind, Joe takes us into the homes, hospitals and workplaces of these characters. In his own self-portrayal, he bravely shows how glaucoma is threatening a filmmaker’s entire lifestyle. With determination, Joe does everything he can to slow down the course of his disease from medication to surgeries, visual aids and the support of family and friends. From his subjects and fellow members of the visually impaired community, Joe receives a guiding light in a darkening world. An array of intimate anecdotes provide a glimpse into the world of low vision and blindness for sighted and visually impaired viewers. A startling 37 million people worldwide have lost their vision, while in the United States alone, Lighthouse International reports that 10 million people are legally blind or visually impaired. Here are the stories of six of them.

Jessica Jones
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Jessica serendipitously met Joe on the streets of her current home, New York City, while she was training her seeing-eye dog, Chef. Jessica was only 32 and an artist teaching in the New York City public school system when she lost her vision in eight months from diabetic retinopahy. Initially, Jessica faced opposition through her illness with a lack of encouragement and support from family and a dearth of career opportunities. Determined not to succumb to these obstacles, Going Blind traces Jessica’s evolution to empowerment as she finds multiple strategies and technology assistance to cope with her blindness, and finally lands an art teaching position at the Lavelle School for the Blind in the Bronx.

Emmet Teran
Eleven-year old Emmet has low vision due to his albinism, a condition he inherited from his father who also lives with low vision. Emmet needs every detail to be enlarged in order to see, limiting his participation in school, sports, and activities with friends. Recent operations provide hope, yet Emmett takes it upon himself to cope with his illness—participating in an after school comedy troupe, Emmet’s humor is uplifting to himself and his family and friends.



Steve Baskis
Texas native Steve Baskis was 22 and Private First Class in the Army when a roadside bomb north of Baghdad hit his vehicle. In addition to injuries all over his body, shrapnel from the bomb created nerve damage to Steve’s eyes, leaving him blind. Going Blind documents Steve’s transition from recovery at Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center outside of Chicago to his new life at his own apartment, cleverly designed by himself for independent living as a blind person.



Pat Williams
Pat Williams is a legally blind woman, who struggles to bridge her place between the world of the sighted and that of the visually impaired. As a program support assistant at the New York City center for Veterans Affairs, Pat has found ways to adapt her work environment to her own needs. Yet at times it is necessary for her to receive help from family for daily needs. Throughout the film, Pat works to strike a balance between relying on family and remaining a fiercely independent woman who does not let her disability define her.



Peter D’Elia
An 85-year-old architect suffering from macular degeneration, Peter D’Elia has been slowly losing his vision slowly over the past 10 years. His career was in crisis when he noticed that his vision was failing even in his good right eye. Through passion and stamina, Peter finds the drive to continue working, trying new medication for his illness and fighting to restore his sight. Despite vision loss, Peter continues to pursue his love of architecture at his home in New Jersey.



Ray Kornman
At age 29, Ray Kornman discovered he had retinitis pigmentosa, an incurable eye disease that would leave him blind by the age of 40. In Going Blind, Ray discloses his initial feelings of hopelessness and vulnerability before learning of the various services available for the blind. Ray’s life changed when he got his guide dog at the Seeing Eye in Morristown. Now, secure in his condition and content with his life, Ray’s mission is to spread the message about the power of guide dogs.

Specific Assessments for Students with Low Vision

One of the most important prerequisites in planning a student’s educational program is assessing the student’s strengths and weaknesses. Assessment for students with low vision includes comprehensive evaluations by members of the student’s multidisciplinary team. Areas of assessment summarized in the following paragraphs include: functional vision assessment, expanded core curriculum assessments, learning media assessments, clinical low vision evaluations, and ophthalmologic and optometric evaluations. These tests are specific to vision related fields. State tests and standards of learning for students’ with low vision are not addressed in this fact sheet.


The Code of Federal Regulations (34 CFR), sec. 300.532: Assessment/Low Vision Assessment and Evaluation states that state and local educational agencies shall ensure that, at a minimum, tests and other evaluation materials must be validated and tailored to assess specific areas of educational need for individual students with visual impairments. Students must be assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

Children and youth with low vision have unique educational needs. Research documents that these students often require direct instruction by a teacher for students with visual impairments in areas that are not typically addressed for other students. All students who meet the criteria for visual impairment within their state should have a document that addresses their individual needs. This document, called an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), is used to place a child in the most appropriate educational setting. A thorough assessment for students with visual impairments is the key in creating an adequate IEP. And the assessment process is an essential component in developing appropriate goals and objectives for the student. The following are the most common evaluations given to students with visual impairments to guide their program planning.

Expanded Core Curriculum

The core curriculum designates the minimum standards students must meet in order to advance to the next grade level. Examples of core curricular areas are mathematics, reading, and science. Modifications and adaptations are needed to make these curricula accessible to students who are visually impaired. The Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) covers additional areas of learning not addressed in the core curriculum that must be assessed and taught for students who are visually impaired. These areas include concepts and skills that are often learned incidentally by sighted peers. Areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum include: orientation and mobility, social interaction, recreation and leisure, use of assistive technology, independent living skills, career education, visual efficiency, self-determination, and compensatory academic skills, including communication modes. A teacher for students with visual impairments must assess each area before beginning a student’s educational plan. Evaluations in the areas listed above are critical in order to identify and address weaknesses in the student’s repertoire. Students with low vision are often able to pass as being competent in areas of the expanded core because their difficulties are less apparent than those students who are blind and have not received any ECC instruction. Teachers for students with visual impairments must not overlook the needs of these students with low vision when assessing areas of the expanded core curriculum.

These nine areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum can be approached differently for students with low vision and students who are blind. For example, in orientation and mobility instruction, a student who is blind would focus on auditory and tactile cues, while the student with low vision would augment these cues with visual information obtained from the environment. The ECC area of visual efficiency for a student with low vision may mean learning how to use optical devices correctly. However, a student with no vision does not benefit from this training. Although areas of the expanded core curriculum can be very different for students with low vision and for students who are blind, assessment and instruction is equally important for both.

Assistive Technology Assessments

Assistive technology, an area of the expanded core curriculum, refers to any product or service that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional abilities of students with low vision. Technology assessments address a student’s need for such equipment as screen readers, screen magnification, scanners, adaptive keyboards, portable notetakers, closed circuit televisions, augmentative communication devices, braille translation software, braille embossers and braille writing equipment. Assessment in these areas is essential to ensure the appropriate match of technology to student’s needs.

Functional Vision Assessments

The functional vision assessment includes a variety of evaluations that test the child’s use of vision and visual efficiency in daily activities. The assessment, administered over several sessions, determines how the child accesses his/her visual environment, such as how far s/he can sit from the chalkboard or what print size s/he is able to see. A certified teacher of students with visual impairments completes the assessment; contributions from the child’s Orientation and Mobility instructor are helpful as well. Parents, caregivers, and the child’s teacher(s) are asked to give input about how the child performs in the community and the school setting. From this assessment, a report is generated that addresses multiple issues:

  • Near and distance acuity: An acuity measurement is taken at near range (usually at a distance of 16 inches) using a near vision acuity chart. This measurement is often recorded in print size. For example, the teacher may record that the child can read 2M print (large print) at 16 inches. Other functional near tasks might also be used in the evaluation (e.g., how the child accesses information on baseball cards, identification of coins, etc.). Distance visual acuity is typically measured at a distance of 10 or 20 feet. A distance vision chart such as the Feinbloom or Snellen is often used. Other functional distance tasks may include the distance at which the child can see print on the whiteboard or imitate hand movements given by the physical education teacher.
  • Peripheral visual field: Peripheral vision is the ability to see movement or objects outside of the immediate line of vision. Field loss is measured in degrees. For example, if a child has a 20 degree field loss, his/her visual field does not extend through a complete 180 degrees left to right.
  • Reading level and speeds: An informal reading inventory indicates the grade level at which a child is reading as well as how fast s/he is reading in comparison to her/his peers.
  • Current print functioning: The functional vision assessment should state the child’s primary mode of reading, whether it is regular print, large print, optical devices, or braille.
  • Examples of both near and distance information: The assessment report should include examples of environmental features such as faces, signs, and travel cues the child can see and at what distance the child can see each feature.
  • Light sensitivity: Light sensitivity has implications for how the student performs in a variety of illuminated settings. Children with diagnoses such as albinism or achromatopsia are significantly affected by higher levels of illumination and often perform tasks better under less illumination. There are also visual conditions for which additional lighting is necessary. For a majority of visual conditions, glare will adversely affect visual functioning.
  • Color perception: Color perception is the ability to perceive differences in color. Because many facets of daily life are influenced by color (e.g., traffic lights, crayons, clothing), a child’s ability to differentiate colors needs to be known.
  • Convergence: Convergence is the necessary inward movement of the eyes in order to focus on a near object.
  • Eye movements: Eye movements of children and youth refer to the ability to track a moving object in vertical, horizontal, oblique, and circular directions. Such eye movements are used when reading, copying work from the whiteboard, playing sports, and driving.
  • Eye preference: Eye preference is a term used to describe the eye a person prefers to use for accessing his/her visual environment. Although not always, the preferred eye is often the eye with the better acuity.
  • Muscle balance: Muscle balance is a term used to describe the alignment of the eyes and how they move together. Proper alignment is needed for the eyes to work together. In addition, proper muscle balance is essential for the ability to converge.
  • Binocular vision: Binocular vision is a person’s ability to perceive three-dimensional depth by fusing the images of each eye.
  • Depth perception: Depth perception is the ability to distinguish an object’s solidity and its position in space relative to other objects not in the same plane.
  • Visual efficiency: Visual efficiency refers to how well a child completes tasks that require a visual skill.
  • Educational implications: Educational implications are generally statements that address how a child’s visual impairment will affect the child’s functioning in a school setting.
  • Recommendations: Recommendations are typically statements that reflect suggestions from the teacher for students with visual impairments about programming and how to make successful adaptations and accommodations.

Learning Media Assessments

One of the first questions asked about a child’s learning is what his/her primary reading medium will be. Teachers and parents may be uncertain as to whether a child should learn braille, rely on large print or use regular print for accessing reading material. The purpose of the learning media assessment is to determine the most effective medium for accessing instruction and teaching methods. A certified teacher of students with visual impairments completes this assessment. The learning media assessment covers both general learning media and literacy media. General learning media are instructional materials and instructional methods. Literacy media refers to reading and writing in print and braille.

Clinical Low Vision Evaluations

A clinical low vision evaluation assesses whether or not a child will benefit from optical devices such as monocular telescopes and/or magnifiers. An optometrist or ophthalmologist who specializes in low vision and the prescription of optical devices performs the clinical low vision evaluation. The evaluation centers on how the child uses his/her vision on a daily basis in both the school setting and at home. Measures for visual acuity, visual fields, and color vision are taken. In addition, the clinical low vision specialist will check for refractive errors and the potential for the student to benefit from optical devices. Often devices are prescribed to meet a specific request of the patient. For example, a patient may want to access prices on items in the grocery store; the doctor may then prescribe a pocket magnifier that can be conveniently placed in a purse or pocket. One of the most beneficial results of the low vision evaluation is the link made between medical and functional aspects of vision loss.

Ophthalmologic and Optometric Evaluations

Only doctors can perform ophthalmologic and optometric evaluations. A medical doctor (ophthalmologist) completes the ophthalmologic evaluation and a doctor of optometry (optometrist) completes the optometric evaluation. The main purposes of the ophthalmology exam are to diagnose eye conditions and examine the health of the eye, as well as to give a prognosis of the visual impairment. A typical ophthalmologic exam involves dilating the patient’s eyes in order to view the interior of the eye. Acuity and visual field measurements are taken as well as a check for glaucoma. Use of functional vision is not emphasized. The majority of special education programs across the United States require an eye report from an ophthalmologist in order to initiate special education services for a child with a visual impairment. During optometric evaluations, the doctor verifies the need for refractive lenses and prescribes glasses to improve acuity loss to the greatest extent possible. An optometrist is unable to medically diagnose a visual impairment.

Academic (Standard) Testing

Academic testing is primarily the responsibility of the child’s classroom teacher. Children with low vision, however, often require modifications or adaptations in order to complete standard testing in their schools. A teacher for students with visual impairments and a general education teacher should collaborate before administering any tests. Needed modifications may include extended time, enlarged copies, and use of manipulatives.


Related Publications from AFB Press

Corn, A. L. & Koenig, A. J. (1996). Foundations of Low Vision: Clinical and Functional Perspectives. New York: AFB Press.

Hazecamp, J. & Huebner, M. (1989). Program Planning and Evaluation for Blind and Visually Impaired Students: National Guidelines for Educational Excellence. New York: AFB Press.

Other Resources

Brown, D., Simmons, V., & Methvin, J. (1991). The Oregon Project for Visually Impaired and Blind Preschool Children. Medford, Oregon: Jackson Education Service District.

Hatlen, P. (1996). The core curriculum for blind and visually impaired students, including those with additional disabilities. Review, 28(1), 25-32.

Johns, J. L. (1997). Basic Reading Inventory: Pre-Primer through grade Twelve & Early Literacy Assessments. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

Koenig, A. J. & Holbrook, M. C. (1995). Learning Media Assessment of Students with Visual Impairments: A Resource Guide for Teachers 2nd Edition. Austin, Texas: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Levack, N. ( Annotated Bibliography of Curricular Materials Related to the Core Curriculum for Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities. Austin, Texas: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Levack, N. (1994). Low Vision: A Resource Guide with Adaptations for Students with Visual Impairments. Austin, Texas: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Pogrund, R., Healy, G., Kelley, J., Levack, N., Martin-Curry, S., Martinez, C., Marz, J., Roberson-Smith, B., & Vrba, A. (1995). TAPS: Teaching Age Appropriate Purposeful Skills. An Orientation and Mobility Curriculum for Students with Visual Impairments. Austin, Texas: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Pugh, G. S., & Erin, J. (Eds.). (1999). Blind and Visually Impaired Students: Educational Service Guidelines. Watertown, MA: Perkins School for the Blind.

Sanford, L. & Burnett, R. (1993). Functional Vision and Media Assessment Report for Students who are Pre-Academic or Academic and Visually Impaired in Grades K-12. Hermitage, TN: Consultants for the Visually Impaired.

Sewell, D. (1997). Assessment Kit: Kit of Informal Tools for Academic Students with Visual Impairments. Austin,Texas: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Smith, A. & O’Donnell, M. (1992). Beyond Arms Reach. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania College of Optometry Press.

Web Sites

American Foundation for the Blind:

American Printing House for the Blind:

Assessment Tools Related to the Expanded Core Curriculum:

Clinical Measurement of Low Vision in Children:

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Curriculum and Assessments:

Contributors: Jennifer Bell, Project PAVE, George Peabody College, Vanderbilt University and Mary Ann Siller, AFB

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Eye Disease Can Indicate Increased Risk for Heart Attack or Stroke

The eyes, they say, are the windows to the soul. But did you know that the eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can also indicate increased risk of heart attack or stroke? During September’s Save Your Sight Month, Eye Care America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is raising awareness about AMD and its potential “window to health” through your eyes.

The AMD-Health Connection
Imagine seeing black holes in your field of vision, instead of the scene before you—your family, your garden, your favorite book. For the more than 10 million Americans who suffer from AMD, this is what life is like. The leading cause of vision loss for those 65 and older, AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the eye’s macula, where the sharpest, central vision occurs. This causes vision to break down from the center outward. While not curable, AMD’s advancement can be delayed and treated, leading to many more years of healthy vision for those who detect it early through an eye exam.

This same blood vessel damage can also indicate risk for heart attack or stroke—as much as 8 to 10 times greater than for someone without this damage. An Australian study noted that among those whose health was followed for a number of years, subjects with AMD had more than double the incidence of heart attack or stroke. So an eye exam eye could help save not only your sight, but also your life, by letting you know of increased risk for other serious health problems.

EyeCare America provides eye exams at no out-of-pocket cost to people age 65 and older and offers online medication assistance information. The eye exams are provided by a corps of nearly 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Those interested in the program can visit to see if they are eligible. The organization’s online referral center also enables friends and family members to find out instantly if their loved ones are eligible to be matched with an EyeCare America volunteer ophthalmologist.

EyeCare America is designed for people who:

  •         Are U.S. citizens or legal residents
  •         Are age 65 and older
  •         Have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years
  •         Do not belong to an HMO or receive eye care benefits through the VA.

To see immediately if you, a loved one or a friend, 65 or older, is eligible to receive a referral for an eye exam and care, visit

EyeCare America is co-sponsored by the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc., with additional support provided by Alcon. The program is endorsed by state and subspecialty ophthalmological societies.

About EyeCare America
Established in 1985, EyeCare America, the public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is committed to the preservation of sight, accomplishing its mission through public service and education. EyeCare America provides eye care services to medically underserved seniors and those at increased risk for eye disease through its corps of nearly 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists dedicated to serving their communities. More than 90 percent of the care made available is provided at no out-of-pocket cost to the patients. Since its inception, EyeCare America has helped more than 1.5 million people. EyeCare America is a non-profit program whose success is made possible through charitable contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. More information can be found at:


Over-the-counter reading glasses, helpful or harmful?

Over-the-counter reading glasses, also known as readers, magnifiers or half-eyes are frequently used by people who need help magnifying the print they are reading. The magnification provided by these “readers” clears vision and/or reduces eyestrain. How do these readers differ from prescription eyewear? Prescription eyewear is customized for your vision by providing a lens that matches the power in each eye.

It is more often than not that the prescription between each eye is different, necessitating prescription eyewear that is different in one lens than the other. Over-the-counter readers cannot precisely meet the vision needs for most people for this reason. While they might make the print larger and easier to see, a prescription is likely to do an even better job. Another factor is “astigmatism”.  Astigmatism describes the way light is bent when it travels through parts of the eye that are not spherical. Most people have some small amounts of astigmatism, and no over the counter readers correct for it, so, once again, the readers might help but not as much as a full corrective prescription written by an eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist).

Another factor that reduces the effectiveness of over-the-counter readers is based on the optical center of each lens. In a prescription pair of glasses, the optician is careful to measure the distance between the center of the pupil of each of your eyes, and make the lenses so that the center of the lens lies directly over the center of the pupil. Generic over-the-counter readers can’t do this.

If the prescription of the over-the-counter reader is high enough and the lenses are off center significantly wearing them can lead to eyestrain. In a worst case scenario, let’s assume many people have

  1.   Unequal prescriptions,
  2.  Slight astigmatism and
  3. Readers that don’t line up exactly over their pupillary line of sight in each eye. In this case, while they may report seeing better with over-the-counter readers than wearing nothing at all, a prescription pair of reading glasses would serve them much better.

There is nothing wrong with wearing the over-the-counter readers in most cases, but be sure to ask your eye doctor.