Norris Lam MSc, OD, FAAOSusan J. Leat, PhD, FCOptom, FAAO

Canadian Optometric Low Vision: Predictive Factors and Regional Comparisons

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Purpose: To investigate the regional differences in low vision (LV) provision across Canada and to identify predictive factors for the provision of more extensive low vision services (LVS).

Methods:  Practising  optometrists  across  Canada  were  invited  to  participate  in  a  questionnaire  that  investigated personal and practice demographics, levels of LVS offered, patterns of referrals and barriers to provision of LVS.


Results:  459  optometrists  responded.  Predictive  factors  for  providing  more  extensive  LVS  included:  optometrists  with  >15  years  of  practice,  having  a  local  LV  optometrist/ophthalmologist  within  one  day’s travel, not having a multi-disciplinary LV clinic within one-day’s travel, working in a practice in a population of <50,000, and having 2+ optometrists in the same practice. Regional differences were found in the following variables: the presence of an optometrist offering LVS within the respondent’s primary practice, referral criteria, the type of LV provider receiving the referral, and the perceived quality of LVS.

Conclusions: LVS are provided differently across Canada and the availability of government-funded LVS appeared to enhance optometric referrals to multidisciplinary low vision clinics. Optometrists who were in a group practice setting, who had practiced for >15 years and who worked in a less populated area were more likely to provide more extensive LVS

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