Referral to low vision services by ophthalmologists

Keeffe, Jill E., Lovie-Kitchin, Jan E., & Taylor, Hugh R. (1996) Referral to low vision services by ophthalmologists. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Ophthalmology, 24(3), pp. 207-214.


Purpose: People in need of low vision rehabilitation services often experience delays in referral to services. This study investigated referral criteria of Australian ophthalmologists, the frequency of referral of their patients with low vision and their perceptions of low vision services.
Methods: A survey was sent to a representative, random sample of 200 ophthalmologists. They were asked about criteria used for the referral of their patients with low vision. The survey included questions on the frequency with which they prescribed low vision devices (LVD) and referral of their patients to low vision and rehabilitation services and peer support groups. Perceptions of the quality and availability of low vision services were also investigated.
Results: The response rate was 82%. Approximately 11% of ophthalmologists’ patients have low vision. It is uncommon for ophthalmologists to prescribe LVD but 67% refer most of their patients with low vision. It is less common for them to refer to rehabilitation services (29%) or peer support services (18%). The perceived local availability of services influenced the rate of referral. Ophthalmologists who used the criteria of moderate low vision (<6/21 to <6/60) are more likely to refer more of their patients than those who use the criteria of severe low vision.
Conclusion: Australian ophthalmologists refer most of their visually impaired patients to low vision services, but infrequently to rehabilitation services of peer support groups. Differences in perceived need for low vision services indicated by the criteria used for referral, and the perceived availability, influence the rate at which ophthalmologists refer their patients for services. Ophthalmologists are encouraged to refer patients with permanent visual loss to low vision services earlier.

Impact and interest:

30 citations in Scopus
20 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 5645
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: For more information, please refer to the journal’s website (see link) or contact the author. Author contact details:
Additional URLs:
Keywords: low vision, referral, rehabilitation
ISSN: 1440-1606
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > OPTOMETRY AND OPHTHALMOLOGY (111300)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1996 Blackwell Publishing
Deposited On: 01 Dec 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2011 17:47

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