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CSE Low Vision Therapist

Department: Centre for Sight Enhancement Effective Date: January, 2008

USG 5/6

35 hours per week
Reports to: Administrator, CSE

General Accountability

The Low Vision Therapist (LVT) reports to the Administrator, Centre for Sight Enhancement.  The incumbent will be responsible for providing training to clinic patients in the safe and appropriate use of both optical and non-optical low vision devices including component skills required for their use. The LVT will provide training in the use of environmental modifications such as development of organizational skills, use of lighting and contrast etc. under the direction of the supervising clinician. The LVT will operate as an active member of the Low Vision Clinic multidisciplinary team.

Nature and Scope

The School of Optometry Clinic provides a clinical facility for the education of Optometry undergraduates, graduate students and residents at the University of Waterloo. It also provides a comprehensive Optometric service to the general public through a University-based clinic. Approximately 30,000 patients are seen annually. Special populations are served through outreach projects around the region, across the country and throughout the world.


The Centre for Sight Enhancement (CSE) is a semi-autonomous clinical research and teaching facility within the School of Optometry. It is involved exclusively with activities related to the assessment and rehabilitation of visual disorders, visual impairments, visual disabilities and visual handicaps. The CSE has been designated by the Ontario Ministry of Health for the assessment and provision of high technology sight enhancement and sight substitution systems to visually impaired Ontario residents under the Assistive Devices Program (ADP). This Ministry program provides partial funding for these and other prescribed low vision aids (devices).


The Centre for Sight Enhancement is an integral part of the overall teaching, research and clinical activities of the School of Optometry. Clinical low vision services within the CSE are provided by faculty optometrists with specialty training and experience in the low vision field. These "low vision clinicians" are assigned to the CSE low vision service by the School of Optometry Clinic Director who appoints a Head - Low Vision Services" co-ordinate the clinical activities within the area. CSE support staff are available to assist with reception, intake, assessment, counselling, training, clerical support and follow-up activities in the area. These support services are funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Health.


The provision of clinical low vision services at the Centre for Sight Enhancement has evolved into a highly sophisticated and complex process. Since its creation in 1984, the Centre has experienced a tremendous change in the profile of patients being seen and in the services that they require. A greater number of young and profoundly impaired individuals are now being seen with more complicated educational and vocational requirements. In response to these changing service demands, the CSE low vision service has adopted an effective multidisciplinary team approach for low vision rehabilitation. Optometric low vision services are supported internally by a counsellor, low vision therapist, high technology assessment specialists as well as clerical support and externally by a large assortment of community services. The CSE also interacts regularly with many advocacy and consumer support groups attempting to assist blind and visually impaired individuals.  


Following the clinical Low Vision assessment, patients require familiarization, training and direct supervision to learn to use their low vision devices effectively and efficiently.  The LVT will co-ordinate these various activities under the direction of the low vision clinician responsible for the case.  Particular attention will be paid to developing appropriate visual motor skills, visual perceptual skills and manipulative skills. The LVT will evaluate each individual's performance using various devices and will report these findings to the low vision clinician. 


The LVT will work with the patient in the use of environmental modifications such as development of organizational skills, lighting and contrast as well as basic daily living skills, demonstrating techniques and teaching concepts that will assist the patient in their educational, occupational, recreational, daily living, social and leisure activities.


The CSE maintains an extensive inventory of low vision devices that are available for loan to patients to assist with training and adaptation to the use of these devices.  The management of the Loan Program and its associated database is the responsibility of the LVT.  These duties include the follow up of patients currently using loan items, the systematic cleaning of all returned loaner devices and the monitoring of replacement or servicing requirements for the loan program.


The LVC maintains statistics on client contacts as required by the CSE Administrator for Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and Ministry of Health reporting requirements.

Statistical Data

The Low Vision Clinic sees approximately 650 – 700 patients during the year and the LVT would work with many of these patients during their appointments and via telephone follow-up.  The Low Vision Loan Program houses an inventory of an estimated 350 stock low vision devices which are used in about 400 separate loans throughout the year.

Specific Accountabilities

Working Conditions