The UCLA Vision Rehabilitation Center, under the direction of Dr. Melissa W. Chun with Dr. Jennie Kageyama as Associate Director and Dr. Ava K. Bittner as Chief of Optometric Services, was established to provide rehabilitation to maximize visual function and quality of life of patients with low vision. Vision rehabilitation services are indicated for anyone who has difficulty with visual tasks, such as reading or other daily activities. A rehabilitation plan is tailored to each patient’s specific needs and goals.
There are a wide variety of portable digital video magnifiers to enhance contrast and provide magnification for near reading tasks, which are available to evaluate at the Vision Rehabilitation Center, some of which are shown above.
The Center provides assistance in the form of patient consultation and training, including evaluation with the latest visual assistive devices that can help patients improve their visual functioning. The Center utilizes a wide array of technologically advanced devices, such as magnifiers, telescopes, and digital and computer technology. Customized for each patient’s individual needs, services may range from simple solutions to specialized approaches. There are considerations for enhanced illumination through task lighting or filters to help with light sensitivity due to glare. When appropriate, referrals are provided to assist independent living through additional services, such as occupational therapy or orientation and mobility training.
Faculty at the UCLA Vision Rehabilitation Center are also conducting research studies and pioneering novel ways to help people with vision loss. Visual disability is reduced with multiple training sessions to help people improve their use of assistive devices (e.g., magnifiers). Resource efficient and convenient ways are needed to provide this training and reduce barriers in accessing care. We have developed a system using tele-rehabilitation that involves videoconferencing to provide at-home training remotely with your doctor at the Vision Rehabilitation Center.
The Center is conducting an NIH-sponsored multicenter trial to evaluate how this new approach can improve reading ability with their magnifiers. Additionally, we are customizing socially assistive robots for use at home to help motivate and encourage optimal use of new magnification devices for reading. This unique endeavor uses robots to promote acceptance, adherence, and skills reinforcement so that people with vision loss can achieve proficiency in their magnifier use. This exciting, complementary approach seeks to reduce frustration and enhance reading for important daily activities.
The future of visual assistive technology is changing from hand-held devices to electronic head-mounted systems. We are on the forefront of evaluating these new technologies to determine how this equipment may help people with various important visual tasks, such as reading, TV, computer, face recognition, and walking. Drs. Ava Bittner, Melissa Chun & Jennie Kageyama look forward to working with you to help accomplish these important goals.
Dr. Chun, right, demonstrates examples of two of the wearable electronic headset devices that use image enhancement to improve vision while performing tasks at far distances, intermediate and/or near.
Illuminated hand-held magnifiers can be valuable tools to help with spot reading tasks, and are available in portable, lightweight and compact designs to use outside the home for reading restaurant menus or when shopping, such as in the example shown here.