To better understand the economic and human consequences of offering low vision rehabilitation compared with more basic low vision services for patients with macular diseases, investigators in a recent study found the costs for both approaches were similar. However, low vision rehabilitation required more time and transportation—and was more effective for some patients—compared with those who only received basic low vision services.

The results of this randomized clinical trial were first reported in JAMA Ophthalmology online.1

The US Department of Veterans Affairs Low Vision Intervention Trial (LOVIT) II was conducted from September 27, 2010, to July 31, 2014, at nine facilities. The study included 323 veterans with macular diseases with best-corrected distance visual acuity of 20/50 to 20/200. Subjects were randomized to receive either basic low vision services that provided visual aid devices without therapy or a course of low vision rehabilitation that included one-on-one time with a therapist. In the latter group, the therapist provided instruction and homework on using low vision devices, eccentric viewing and environmental modification.  

The researchers found that patients who received the rehabilitation effort had greater improvements in overall visual ability, reading ability, visual information processing and visual motor skill scores.

1. Stroupe, K, Stelmack, J, Tang XC, et al. Economic evaluation of low-vision rehabilitation for veterans with macular diseases in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. JAMA OphthalmolApril 12, 2018. [E-pub ahead of print].