The rising number of older patients means that visual rehabilitation will continue to increase in importance in the near future.
Susanne Trauzettel-Klosinski summarizes the present state of knowledge in the current issue of the Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2011; 108[51/52]: 871-8).
Diseases of the eyes and visual pathways can lead to various impairments in everyday living and require specific rehabilitation. For example, central deficits in the visual field disturb the ability to read, while peripheral deficits make it difficult to orientate oneself. Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe visual impairment in the industrialized nations. The numbers of patients suffering stroke and consequent visual impairment is also set to rise. For most patients, careful diagnosis of the visual impairment and analysis of its effects allow reading ability to be restored and self-orientation improved through appropriate rehabilitation techniques, thus increasing independence and quality of life. Visual rehabilitation goes well beyond the purely optical. Spontaneous adaptation strategies are supported and training given in compensatory behaviors. A variety of visual aids are available for this. In addition, reading speed can be improved by specific reading training, and impaired orientation improved by tactile aids such as the long cane and progressive training.