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Volume 46, 1996, p. 159166

The Role of the Orthoptist in Visual Rehabilitation: An Australian Perspective (Abstract)
Kerry Fitzmaurice, D.O.B.A.


Loss of sight can result in severe disruption to normal daily function resulting in loss of independence and social isolation. Despite the significance of this handicap provision of appropriate rehabilitation has been a relatively new development, with no particular professional group taking full responsibility. Low vision intervention has not been the traditional role of the orthoptist albeit it an area that orthoptists are well trained to service. Australian orthoptists began working in this field some eighteen years ago; today a third of the profession are employed in the low vision industry with agencies for the blind seeking to increase orthoptic services.


Orthoptists provide a range of professional services to the low vision industry. One area of particular significance is the provision of rehabilitation strategies to ameliorate the impact of sight loss on daily life. The Visual Rehabilitation Clinic at La Trobe University provides programs of eccentric viewing which have been particularly successful in ameliorating the effects of sight loss due to macular dysfunction. Data collected from the clinic indicates that effective use of eccentric viewing has enabled clients to read print material, assisted the performance of daily living tasks and facilitated social interactions. The experience of this clinic and others like it in Australia support the value of orthoptists as part of the low vision rehabilitation team.