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Low Vision Clinic Day at WesternU

by Rodney Tanaka

February 15, 2013

Read 3 mins

Western University of Health Sciences and the California School for the Blind (CSB) are bringing Low Vision Clinic Days to Southern California.

Any child with a visual impairment who is being served by a teacher of the visually impaired or an orientation and mobility specialist is eligible for a free low vision rehabilitation exam every two years at the Eye Care Center at Western University of Health Sciences.

The next Clinic Day at WesternU is Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. Media is invited to attend. Please call 909-469-5402 to arrange coverage of this event.

“We provide a primary care exam and an assessment of the needs of visually impaired children in order to provide them with assistive devices to help them become successful in a classroom situation,” said Robert Gordon, OD, FAAO, DPNAP, WesternU College of Optometry Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs. “We evaluate them to see which assistive devices would allow them to function at their highest level. We make recommendations to the California School for the Blind, and CSB will provide the student with the necessary visual aids.”

The first low vision clinic at WesternU took place Oct. 1, 2012. The clinics are held every two months and provide care to five to seven students. WesternU provides all the doctors and evaluations, and the California School for the Blind provides magnifiers, monoculars and sunglasses.

WesternU also received funding from the Allergan Foundation to provide prescriptive devices to needy children who are visually impaired. Sightsavers International will provide sophisticated electronic low vision devices to needy school children who otherwise would not have the opportunity to utilize this technology, Gordon said.

The thorough low vision evaluation that students receive at WesternU is a tremendous complement to the functional vision assessments conducted in school and community settings by teachers for the visually impaired, said Nikki Blackburn, Teacher for the Visually Impaired for San Bernardino City Unified School District and Coordinator for CSB Low Vision Clinics at WesternU.

“Not all students have access to health care,” she said. “To have an update on the health of the eyes is really beneficial.”

The Fremont-based California School for the Blind and UC Berkeley have provided free low vision clinics in Northern California for several years, under the leadership of CSB Superintendent Stuart Wittenstein, EdD.

The clinic is open to all eligible students throughout California, but due to its location mainly serves students in Northern California. CSB also organizes traveling clinics to other parts of the state, such as San Diego, Redding and Bakersfield. The partnership between CSB and WesternU is the first time another established institution is conducting ongoing clinics.

“It’s fantastic, because we are reaching more students with free exams and providing free devices,” said Stephanie Herlich, coordinator of Low Vision Services for California School for the Blind, Teacher for the Visually Impaired and Orientation and Mobility Specialist. “We’re very pleased and excited about this new partnership.”

One requirement is for the student to bring a family member and his or her teacher for the visually impaired or mobility specialist to the appointment.

“The reason that we request that the parents and teachers come is to provide us with insight into the unique needs visually impaired students have in their home environment, which might be totally different than their school or work environment,” Gordon said. “It’s very important that we try to address as many of those needs as possible. The challenge we have is to make the visually impaired person as independent as possible, while encumbering them with as few low vision assistive devices as possible.”


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