A child with pediatric low vision has decreased vision (20/70 or less) that cannot be corrected, a decreased field of vision (such as impaired peripheral vision) or both. Children with low vision aren’t blind, but their vision is impaired enough that it can challenge how they perform daily tasks.
For instance, a child with low vision may have difficulty recognizing a familiar face, reading or even seeing steps, curbs or walls. Low vision can be the result of other childhood vision conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma, retinal and optic nerve abnormalities and others.
A pediatric low vision-trained doctor should perform a low vision exam to fully assess a child’s visual function. This exam will include tests on visual acuity, refractive error, visual field, eye muscle function and color vision, among others.
Treatment for low vision may include glasses or contact lenses, as well as magnifiers, binoculars, telescopes and tinted lenses. Adaptive technology, such as closed circuit TV’s and large print books, may be recommended to help the child adapt to his or her special need.
RESOURCES FOR THE CHILD WITH A VISUAL IMPAIRMENT (AKA “LOW-VISION”)
Physicians, parents and educators continually report that they are not well-informed about appropriate services for infants, children and youth with visual impairments. The special services that are needed are handled differently by the county-level of the local and county school districts (ISDs and RESAs).
What can I do? As a parent, you MUST contact your local school district’s special education dept. and ask for a vision assessment. EVEN if your child is an infant and not currently going to school, the ISD provides the assessment and services.
This assessment, along with your ophthalmologists report, will verify your child’s eligibility and get them set up in the ISD. From there, you will be placed with a visually impaired (VI) specialist.
What can my doctor do? Once you have contacted the ISD, your ophthalmologist will communicate to the Intermediate School District or RESA (these districts oversee all the special services in the county).
Birth to Three Years of Age – “EARLY ON MICHIGAN”
Early On Michigan offers early intervention services for infants and toddlers (birth to three years of age) with developmental delay(s) and/or disabilities, and their families. Research has shown that by addressing delays early on – especially between birth and age 3 – we can more effectively impact a child’s development, even into adulthood.
What can I do? The family can call them at 1-800-earlyon (1-800-327-5966), or they can complete the “Referral Form” found on their website at www.1800earlyon.org.
Early On will forward the completed referral form to the family’s local school district for a referral to the correct agency. A confirmation of the referral will be sent to the family. The local school district office will contact the family to set up an evaluation.
Metro Detroit Schools’ Professionals for the Visually Impaired
Each school district has professionals for the visually impaired (VI) to assist with children with visual impairment. Teacher Consultants of students with visual impairments (TCVI) and Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS) have specialized training, certification and experience that allows them to provide direct instruction, accommodations and modifications for the unique learning needs created by a visual impairment.
Families should coordinate an assessment with Visually Impaired Support Staff in their localschool districts’ ‘Special Education Services.’Otherwise, they can also contact their local school districts’ Board of Education’s office to find out how that specific school district handles special assistance for the visual impaired.
If you are have questions about initiating services, are not receiving the care your child needs, or are having any problems with your VI services that your local school district is not addressing, contact your county’s ISD below:
Wayne County: Detroit Public Schools
(includes Detroit, Highland Park, Harper Woods, Grosse Pointes, Hamtramck):
RICHARD GREGORY: New Student Intake & Youth Low Vision Supervisor
Office: (313) 263-2897
Fax: (313) 263-2910
Western Wayne County School District
(all districts west of/including Romulus, and Inkster, Livonia)
Office: (734) 367-3856
Fax: (734) 744-2748
Website: Livonia Public Schools Program for the Visually Impaired
Wayne County: Lincoln Park Public Schools
Office: (313) 389-0210
3301 Electric, Lincoln Park, MI 48146
Macomb County: Macomb Intermediate School Districts (MISD)
Office: (586) 412-2601
Phone: (248) 209-2116
DOCTORS & ORGANIZATIONS THAT CAN ASSIST
OUTSIDE OF THE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT
Children’s Low Vision Resource Center
ROPARDS’s ‘Children’s Low Vision Resource Center’ can provide resources to low-vision patients and families.
Vision Research ROPARD Foundation
3412 West Thirteen Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48073
Office: (800) 788-2020
Youth Low Vision Program
School age children with low vision are eligible, even if they are on Medicaid. This program teams the patient, visually impaired specialist from the school district, and a low vision specialist together to help the child with functional vision. The program also helps the parent with the cost of low vision glasses, magnifiers, and other assistive devices recommended by the low vision specialist.
If your child participates in this program, we stress the importance of seeing both your pediatric ophthalmologist along with your low vision specialist (optometrist). This will ensure that your child has the best care possible.
Why are both necessary? Your Pediatric Ophthalmologist follows your child’s eye health, progression of any disease and any treatments or medications available. They are the medical doctor (MD) responsible for your child’s health. Your Low Vision Specialist (Optometrist) will help your child make the most of the vision that they have, allowing them to perform the best they can in school and other activities.
Metro Detroit’s Doctors for the Pediatric Visual Impaired
Low vision specialists provide comprehensive eye evaluations, assessment for and provision of low vision devices, assistive technology evaluation, orientation and mobility screening and recommendations for classroom adaptations. Children with vision impairment usually require a referral from educators or health care providers in order to be accepted for evaluation.
Elizabeth M. Becker, OD
Walton and Becker Eyecare
837 S. Lapeer Road, Oxford, MI 48371-5084
Office: (248) 628-3441
Web: Walton and Becker Eyecare
Note: Per their office, they will see all ages of low-vision patients.
Susan R. Gormezano, OD, FAAO
Low Vision Associates
26771 W. Twelve Mile Road, Ste 102, Southfield, MI 48034
Office: (248) 827-3670
Fax: (248) 827-3675
Web: Low Vision Associates, PC
Note: Per their office, they will see all ages of low-vision patients.
Susan Hahn, OD
Beaumont Eye Institute
3535 W. 13 Mile Rd., Suite 555, Royal Oak, MI 48073-6704
Office: (248) 551-2020
Web: Beaumont Eye Institute
Note: Per their office they will see low-vision patients ages 4 and up
Carol Marston-Foucher, OD, FAAO
32037 Plymouth Road, Livonia, MI 48150-1908
Office: (734) 421-5454
Web: Marton Optometry
Note: Per their office they will see school age children and older unless a “Visually Impaired Teacher” from the pre-school requests sooner.
Lylas G. Mogk, MD and Ramanpal Deol, OD, FAAO
Henry Ford Health Systems
15401 E. Jefferson, Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230
Office: (313) 824-2401
Web: Henry Ford Health System Low Vision
Note: Per their office they require children to be able to verbally communicate.
VARIOUS TYPES OF LOW VISION RESOURCES
Parents of Visually Impaired Children
Office: (313) 272-3900
On Family Connect you’ll find videos, personal stories, events, news and an online community that can offer tips and support from other parents of children who are blind or visually impaired.