James J. Peters VA Medical Center
Vision Rehabilitation: Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST)
A. WHAT IS VIST?
James J Peters VA Medical Center Vision Rehabilitation Program (VIST) helps low vision and legally blind Veterans and their families adjust to vision loss. Some veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) may have vision problems that can be helped with vision rehab.
The VIST Coordinator is the Medical Center Subject Matter Expert on living with vision loss. The VIST Program:
- identifies and informs eligible blind/low vision Veterans about vision loss-related resources and benefits;
- helps Veterans re-learn to take care of themselves even when they can't see well;
- works with Veterans and their families who are learning to cope with vision loss; and
- educates hospital staff, veterans and the community about living safely and independently with vision loss.
B. BUT I CAN SEE!
Eyeglasses can't correct all vision problems. A person who can't see well with either eye, even with glasses, may have low vision or be legally blind. Nine of 10 legally blind people have useable eyesight. Veterans who can't read print smaller than the 20/100 line on the eye chart with their better eye and best glasses are not legally blind. They do have low vision compared to the "average person" and can qualify for help from Vision Rehab at JJP to become safer and more independent despite their vision loss.
C. I HAVE AN EYE DISEASE. NOW WHAT?
Diseases that can cause vision loss include diabetes, macular degeneration, glaucoma, serious eye infections or inflammation and cataracts. There are treatments that can slow the progress of some eye diseases. Working closely with your eye doctor, the Vision Rehab Team can help you learn more about your eye disease and prevent it from limiting you.
- All legally blind JJP veterans can have a yearly VIST review to determine their vision-related goals and make a Vision Action Plan to meet those goals.
- The weekly Vision Loss Group meets in the JJP Eye Clinic on Tuesdays from 10 to 11am. No appointment is needed. Vets welcome guest speakers, share tips on living with vision loss and have outings to events like Broadway shows and sporting events.
- Vision rehab therapy to relearn activities of daily living like traveling safely, cooking, using a computer or smart phone, etc, is available in the veteran's community, at JJP VAMC, through other agencies or at VA vision rehab centers.
D. LEGAL BLINDNESS vs LOW VISION?
When eye doctors test your vision they compare what you see from 20 feet away to what the "average person" sees. 20/20 vision means you and the "average person" see the same level of detail when looking at an eye chart from 20 feet away with the best available glasses correcting the vision in your better eye. 20/200 vision means that even with the best eyeglasses you need to be 20 feet away from an object to see it as clearly as an average person sees the same item from 200 feet away with your better eye and the best available lenses. It's impossible to be "legally blind in one eye" or "legally blind without eyeglasses" because the definition of legal blindness is how the better eye sees with glasses.
You can have 20/20 vision and still be legally blind if you have "tunnel vision". Eye diseases like glaucoma attack the side or "peripheral" vision while leaving the central vision sharp for a long time. Most people can see a 160 degree field of view. Legal blindness from field loss means a person sees a visual field of 20 degrees or less. Looking through the cardboard core in the center of a roll of paper towels can give you a sense of what it looks like if you have a reduced visual field.
E. DO I QUALIFY FOR VA VISION REHAB?
Were you deployed on active duty? Do you receive primary care at JJP VAMC? Even with the best glasses can you still not do some activities of daily living because of your vision? When veterans have problems with activities of daily living due to vision loss the Vision Rehab Team can help with training, equipment and services that allow veterans to meet their goals despite vision loss.
F. HOW TO BE ASSESSED FOR VISION REHABILITATION
Contact JJP VIST Coordinator Nicole Feist, LMSW, MPA, COMS, CVRT, at 718-584-9000 x6631.
- VIST Program Office
- 718-584-9000 Ext. 6631
Hours of Operation
- 8:00am - 4:30pm