Vision Rehabilitation Services: Getting the Attention They Deserve

Vision Rehabilitation Services: Getting the Attention They Deserve

February was Low Vision and Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month. Many in the Blind and Vision impaired community used this designation as an opportunity to highlight the experiences that people living with low vision face every day. In recognition of the importance of these topics, Dr. Ann Corn at Vanderbilt University wrote a “call to action” article entitled, Medicare Should Cover Vision Services and Assistive Devices

In this article, Dr. Corn highlights how using low-vision devices and vision rehabilitation services dramatically improves the independence and overall quality of life of a person with vision loss. As a person living with vision loss herself, she reflects on the benefits of the low-vision devices she uses and the vision rehabilitation services she has received. She spotlights how shocking it is that Medicare does not cover these devices and rehabilitation services at the same level as other disability devices and services. Dr. Corn asks all of us to address this inequity, stressing how unfair it is and advocating to have low vision devices and vision rehabilitation services coverage expanded within the Medicare system

VisionServe Alliance has long supported this cause. We know firsthand the value of low-vision devices and rehabilitation services in the lives of people living with vision loss. Last year, VisionServe Alliance initiated something called the Medicare Exploration Project to increase Medicare coverage for professionals who provide vision rehabilitation services. In phase one, we will determine the feasibility of seeking expanded coverage from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) for these services. Our results are almost in, and you will be hearing more regarding this exciting opportunity to improve the vision rehabilitation services delivery system soon.  

VisionServe Alliance continues to be active on many public policy committees within the aging, blindness, and disability communities. We are constantly bringing the needs of those living with vision loss and the agencies that provide services in the BVI community to the forefront. I am proud to say that these issues are getting attention.  

The National Institutes of Health National Eye Institute will promote Healthy Vision Month in May, and we look forward to helping spread the word, along with a broad range of agencies, including VisionServe Alliance members. It so important that the NEI continually highlights vision rehabilitation as a vital part of the “Healthy Eye” discussion.

To keep the momentum going, VisionServe Alliance will launch and host Vision Rehabilitation Week in June. This is an exciting and unique opportunity for us all to join forces to highlight the life-changing work that those who provide vision rehabilitation services engage in every day. We all make a tremendous difference in the lives of people living with vision loss. That is something that we will celebrate together in June.  

Until then, I hope to see many of you at the VisionServe Alliance Focused on the Future Conference next week in Kansas City. I look forward to all the outstanding conversations and networking opportunities that await us.