Individuals with vision loss can lead full, productive lives. However, when first faced with the reality of vision loss, life can seem overwhelming. Patients may often react with denial, anger, fear, grief, hurt, rejection, abandonment, and/or the fear of these things. Without guidance, in many cases, the potential for isolation, depression, and dependence is great. This can also be a trying time for the family as well as the patient, so early interventions can be critical. In an effort to support patients and their families through this process, the Moran Eye Center provides integrated services to patients with vision loss called the Patient Support Program—which is now modeled world-wide!
“The human being is born with an incurable capacity for making the best of things.” Helen Keller
The Patient Support Program at Moran includes the following Services: Orientation to Vision Loss Seminar, Counseling, Health and Behavior Assessment and Intervention, Support Groups, and Referrals.
– Orientation to Vision Loss Seminar. One Saturday each month, 10:00 AM-noon, we host a free two-hour seminar, “Orientation to Vision Loss,” at the Moran Eye Center for visually impaired individuals and their families. There is no cost for the Orientation to Vision Loss, but you must be registered. Please call 801-585-2213. Please note: There are no seminars held in July and December.
Topics include hints and tips about how to make the most of your remaining vision (such as adding contrast or better lighting to your home), adjustment strategies, and how to access resources available to help. Patients can try out low-vision aids and assistive devices, and they meet other people with similar experiences to share tips, ideas, and encouragement. Family members can use simulation goggles as a great way to visually experience what it may be like to have an eye conditions such as glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, and others.
– Counseling (Individual and family) Patients are provided with individual or family counseling by appointment. Counseling gives our patients with new or ongoing vision loss an opportunity to better understand and deal with the emotional response to vision loss, to address psychological issues, and to be encouraged and supported through the adjustment process.
– Health and Behavior Assessment and Intervention Patients are given a health-focused clinical assessment to evaluate health, behavioral, and social factors affecting health and well-being. Intervention strategies are used to develop a treatment plan to work towards how to better understand and manage the disease processes.
– Support Groups The groups give our patients opportunities to share experiences with others in the same situation and to receive information and encouragement. New support groups are now being developed for specific blinding eye diseases.
– Referrals Patients are provided with referrals to the excellent services offered by many agencies that provide assistance to the blind.
Dr. Ord is Director of the ophthalmology-based Patient Support Program and assistant clinical professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. She provides counseling, support groups, and the Orientation to Vision Loss Program at the John A. Moran Eye Center. Dr. Ord comes to Moran with rich experience in a private counseling practice; with extensive schizophrenia research in the native population in Palau, Micronesia and at the University of Utah Hospital’s Psychiatry Department; and with teens in the Teen Mother Program, also at the University of Utah’s Hospital. In addition, Dr. Ord has taught research at the University of Utah and stress management workshops for nurses at Belau National Hospital.
Corinna is a registered nurse and sensory impairment specialist, and has enjoyed working with patients at the Moran Eye center for more than three years. She teaches the "Maintaining Independence "course and co-facilitates the Orientation to Vision Loss class. Corinna is currently pursuing her PhD in Nursing/Gerontology and her research interests include Post Traumatic Growth, and maintaining quality of life in spite of blindness. Corinna's expertise is enhanced by her own visual impairment.
Amy Henderson is a certified social worker who offers emotional support; individual, family and group counseling; and linkage to community resources for individuals with low vision/blindness for the Patient Support Program. Amy has more than 10 years of experience in the mental health field. In addition, she has worked with hospice, home health, and veterans in the criminal justice system. She brings to our program a passion for empowering others to cope with adjustment, grief and loss issues, especially marginalized types of grief and loss, such as vision loss and blindness.
Cinnamon Laing Nash, MSW, CSW, facilitates the Orientation to Vision Loss Seminar for the Patient Support Program. Cinnamon earned a Master’s of Social Work degree from the University of Utah and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Utah State University. In addition to working in the Patient Support Program for three years, her background includes working in the Emergency Department, Center for Safe and Healthy Families, and Behavioral Health Inpatient Unit at Primary Children’s Hospital. Her interests include group dynamics, teambuilding, crisis intervention, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, parent-child interaction therapy, divorce education and support for children, and employee assistance. Cinnamon enjoys working with the Patient Support Program’s visually impaired patients and feels inspired by them as she travels with them along their journey of adjustment and accomplishment.
The Patient Support Program was pioneered more than two decades ago by Dr. Julia Klienschmidt, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., former director of the Moran Eye Center Patient Support Services Program. Her research in how people responded to a visual disability helped her establish a reputation as one of the world’s experts on the psychosocial impacts of vision loss.
Does my vision loss qualify me for Social Security Disability?
You can get disability benefits if you are “legally blind” or if your vision problems prevent you from working. Legal blindness is when your vision cannot be corrected better than 20/200 or if your visual field is 20 degrees or less in your better eye.
Can I still drive?
Each state has its own rules on driving. In Utah, you must have visual acuity of 20/40 for an unrestricted driver’s license; a restricted driver’s license can be obtained if you have visual acuity of 20/100 and if you have a vision statement form signed by your ophthalmologist or optometrist.
What is available to help me to see better?
There are many assistive devices available. Which device is helpful really depends on the cause of your visual impairment. Assistive devices range from magnifiers of varying strength and type, lights, CCTVs (closed circuit television—electronic desktop magnifiers), glasses—magnifying reading, bioptic telescope, and prism among others. There are also simple changes you can make around your home to improve contrast.
Where can I purchase assistive devices?
There are several places that you can purchase assistive devices. Some require a doctor’s referral to view and purchase special devices. Contact us for a referral! 801-585-2213
How do I get a guide dog?
There are several guide-dog training schools in the United States; however, there are none in Utah. The first step is to be certified in cane travel. Virtually all guide-dog schools require this as a prerequisite. Schools require that the blind person must travel to the school where they will be matched with a dog and trained to handle their dog. Please contact us for more information.
1. Magnification: Low vision devices: magnifiers, CCTV’s (handheld and full-size), phone, remote, recreation items, glucose meter, lamps, watches, stationary, etc.
2. Enlarged-print material and devices
3. Talking devices
4. Reading aids
• Amigo – desktop
• Nemo – hand held [large CCTV]
• Magnifiers of all sizes and strengths, with and without built-in lights
• Syringe magnifier
• Oversize universal remote
• Oversize thermostat
• Oversize clocks
2. Enlarged-print material and devices:
• Large-button phones, calculator
• Large-print books, checkbooks, address books,
• Large-print playing cards, bingo games
• Binocular glasses
3. Talking Devices:
• Sara Reader
• Talking watches
• Talking glucose meters
• Talking Books players and tapes
4. Reading Aids:
• UV Shield glasses
• High contrast household items
• Large print high-contrast computer keyboard
• Lamps with various bulbs for comparison
• Bump dots
• Puff paint
• Braille books, rulers, etc.
• White canes: folding and sweep
• Money reading
• Barcode scanning
All clinical services and programs are part of University of Utah Hospitals & Clinics