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Acta Ophthalmol. 2010 Mar;88(2):163-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-3768.2009.01670.x. Epub 2009 Dec 17.

Assessment of functional vision and its rehabilitation.

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1
Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, San Francisco, California, USA. gus@ski.org

Abstract

This article, based on a report prepared for the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) and the International Society for Low Vision Research and Rehabilitation (ISLRR), explores the assessment of various aspects of visual functioning as needed to document the outcomes of vision rehabilitation. Documenting patient abilities and functional vision (how the person functions) is distinct from the measurement of visual functions (how the eye functions) and also from the assessment of quality of life. All three areas are important, but their assessment should not be mixed. Observation of task performance offers the most objective measure of functional vision, but it is time-consuming and not feasible for many tasks. Where possible, timing and error rates provide an easy score. Patient response questionnaires provide an alternative. They may save time and can cover a wider area, but the responses are subjective and proper scoring presents problems. Simple Likert scoring still predominates but Rasch analysis, needed to provide better result scales, is gaining ground. Selection of questions is another problem. If the range of difficulties does not match the range of patient abilities, and if the difficulties are not distributed evenly, the results are not optimal. This may be an argument to use different outcome questions for different conditions. Generic questionnaires are appropriate for the assessment of generic quality of life, but not for specific rehabilitation outcomes. Different questionnaires are also needed for screening, intake and outcomes. Intake questions must be relevant to actual needs to allow prioritization of rehabilitation goals; the activity inventory presents a prototype. Outcome questions should be targeted at predefined rehabilitation goals. The Appendix cites some promising examples. The Low Vision Intervention Trial (LOVIT) is an example of a properly designed randomized control study, and has demonstrated the remarkable effectiveness of vision rehabilitation. It is hoped that further similar studies will follow.

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