You are here: REHACARE Portal. Up-to-date. Specials. Screening.
Seeing without Being Able to See: “All visually impaired people need individually adapted auxiliary means”
Seeing without Being Able to See:
“All visually impaired people need individually adapted auxiliary means”
Those who cannot see well after an accident or due to older age need different auxiliary means to lead a broadly normal life. What exactly is needed depends on the individual vision and must be adapted to the personal needs.
Catrin Hastreiter and Claudia Weigelt; © SFZ Support Centre
REHACARE.de spoke with Catrin Hastreiter, the special service director, and the orthoptist Claudia Weigelt of the SFZ Support Centre in Chemnitz, Germany, where numerous professional trainings and counsultings for the visually impaired are offered.
REHACARE.de: What can patients with individually adapted auxiliary means achieve? Do you know a special example?
Claudia Weigelt: Some day an eighty-one-years-old man came to us who had age-related macular degeneration, AMD, und his physicians saw no chance for him to see anything at all. On the left eye he was blind and on the right he had only ten per cent vision. But the man did not want to lose all his autonomy to be able to read his mails at least.
We examined his vision exactly and identified the retinal areas that can be used for smoother reading. This was followed by a special eccentric vision training in which the reading abilities of the man were trained. After training, we adapted him an ocular with it he was able to read even small texts. He also received a monocular and long-distance glasses with edge filter which reduces the amount of incoming light into the eye. He was very happy about the auxiliary means and for us it was a great success.
REHACARE.de: Which auxiliary means for visually impaired people have to be purpose built or adapted individually?
Catrin Hastreiter: Since there are many different eye diseases many different auxiliary means are needed. There are visual, not visual and electronic aids, like infuse-aids, magnifiers or computer language systems. Through consultations and studies of visual function and workplace, we determine the individual needs of a visually impaired person and adjust them according to their auxiliary mean.
In an eccentric vision training train the visually impaired people their reading ability; © SFZ Support Centre
Weigelt: Individual adaptation is especially important for electronic aids. There are screen readers which are equipped with a camera and which increase content up to 30 times or simplify colours so that people can read with very little vision. Another interesting device is the Braille terminal – a line of tactile alphabet which enables blind people to feel a digital text by the fingers.
REHACARE.de: How is the trend of development in the growing demand?
Weigelt: We can observe that with electronic devices like computers, smart phones and tablets account the needs of people with visual impairments more and more. Even in matters of law they are considered – for example companies have to care for accessible websites. In addition, the quality of electronic magnifiers grows and the means are smaller, handier and partly also mobile.
Hastreiter: Both in professional and private life more and more aids are required. People want to retain their independence and so get the usual quality of life.
REHACARE.de: Who do you advise in the support centre?
Hastreiter: Since we also offer professional trainings for people with visual impairments all our trainees make use of our services. Many people are sent to us by their doctors or eye clinics after a completed treatment. Some of them suffer from AMD. Especially important in the support centre is that profession and rehabilitation are linked better.
In the office often helps the Braille terminal; © SFZ Support Centre
REHACARE.de: Who bears the costs?
Hastreiter: Usually, the auxiliary means are payed by the statutory health insurance. People who are absolving a professional training or are sent by the Federal Employment Agency can make use of our services – advice and comprehensive aids acquisition – for free.
However, there are also people who come to us privately and search for new opportunities for various kinds of auxiliary means. They must bear the costs on their own.
REHACARE.de: In the United States of America laser glasses are being developed currently which could enable blind people to see. What do you think about such research visions?
Weigelt: Research bolsters the people up, so of course it is good that the world is looking for new opportunities. However, I think that many years of research are needed before we can enable blind people to see again, really.
The interview was conducted by Michalina Chrzanowska.
More about the SFZ Förderzentrum:www.sfz-chemnitz.de/en