Low Vision Outcomes Study

Dates:2009 - Ongoing
Principal Investigator: Dr. William Hodge, Ivey Eye Institute, University of Western Ontario
Co-investigators: Dr. Susan Leat, School of Optometry, University of Waterloo, Dr. Deborah Gold, CNIB, Dawn Pickering, CNIB, and Dr. Keith Gordon, CNIB.
Funder: Physicians Services Foundation Inc.
Contact: Research Administration Coordinator, CNIB Research, Tel: 416-486-2500 x7622 research@cnib.ca

The most important culprit leading to visual impairment and blindness amongst older people in Canada is age related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a progressive condition involving the deterioration of the highly sensitive central area of the retina, known as the macula. The macula is responsible for providing high-acuity, detailed vision. People who have AMD may no longer be able to read, drive, or see the faces of their family members.

For those with visual disabilities and legal blindness from AMD, several low vision rehabilitation options exist. Many are early low-cost, low-burden interventions, such as simple magnifiers and improved lighting. However, later in the visual rehabilitation spectrum, more complex and more expensive technologies can be used. Two of these technologies are eccentric viewing (EV) training and closed circuit television (CCTV) provision. EV training is intense, as it requires a significant amount of hours of training and practice. CCTV is very expensive. Each unit costs about $3000-5000 which is a heavy burden for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and for the patient (around $600 out of patient’s pocket). In addition, the devices are designed to be used in patient’s homes, and thus they are not practical once outside of the home environment. Hence, the results of an EV training vs. CCTV randomized trial will be very important for individual patients and for visual rehabilitation providers.