Shifting from compensation to participation: a model for occupational therapy in low vision

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Older adults with low vision present unique challenges to occupational therapists because they are generally independent in self-care but limited in leisure, productivity and instrumental activities of daily living. This paper presents a review of the needs of older adults with low vision and proposes a model for occupational therapists.

A comprehensive MEDLINE search (1990-2009) of the literature on the interaction between low vision and intrinsic and extrinsic factors was performed. Titles and abstracts were reviewed and all relevant full articles were selected. Additionally, manual searches were conducted of related occupational therapy literature.

The literature review found that low vision rehabilitation focuses on technology and modifying the physical environment, but that there is a great impact on older adults with low vision by intrinsic and extrinsic issues such as cognition, psychology, physiology, spirituality and the social environment. The model proposes expanding occupational therapy with low vision clients to focus comprehensively on participation and integration in the home and community. A sample measurement model for occupational therapy evaluation is provided.


Document Type: Review Article


Publication date: April 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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