Low Vision Clinic
What is Low Vision?
Low vision is the condition of having reduced vision that is not correctable
by normal means such as eyeglasses or contact lenses. Common causes of low
vision are macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetes and other eye diseases.
Low vision may happen at any stage of life from newborns to retirees. Low
vision is not total blindness, although the low vision patient may be
labeled as “blind” by people around them.
What is Legal Blindness?
To be legally blind a person must have lost vision to the level of 20/200 or
worse with their best eyeglasses or contact lenses or they must have a
visual field (peripheral vision) loss to 20 degrees or less. Legal blindness
often causes a severe restriction of daily activities such as reading the
newspaper, watching television or preparing a meal.
People with vision impairments who are not legally blind may still suffer
from these same life-altering problems. If your vision is less than 20/40
you cannot legally drive a car in Idaho.
What is Low Vision Rehabilitation?
Many people with low vision complain of loss of independence and self-worth.
There is now hope! Low vision rehabilitation is the process of training the
person with a visual impairment to make use of their remaining vision to perform
those tasks which are often thought to be lost forever.
What are Low Vision Aids?
The use of specialized devices such as magnifiers, telescopes, or stronger
reading glasses allow many patients to return to daily activities like
reading their mail or the newspaper and watching their favorite TV show.
There are even video magnifiers that attach to a TV set to give large
amounts of magnification for tasks like school work or signing checks.
What is the Low Vision Clinic?
The Low Vision Clinic at the Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually
Impaired, 341 West Washington Street, Boise, Idaho, is where you receive low
vision evaluation and rehabilitation.
Dr. Dwight Hansen and his staff are trained in the latest techniques to help you
return to activities of life that you have missed since your vision loss. It
may be as simple as training a person with macular degeneration to look
slightly to the side when talking with someone to see their face or it may
be more complex, such as a bioptic telescope to return to legal driving.
To achieve your vision goals, you will start with a low vision evaluation
with Dr. Hansen.
What is the Low Vision Evaluation?
The low vision evaluation consists of
an examination by Dr. Hansen followed by consultation with one of our
equipment technicians to demonstrate the low vision devices and
techniques. During the low vision examination, Dr. Hansen may administer
a variety of tests. These tests are often more time consuming than a
standard eye exam. The initial evaluation may take
approximately 1 hour with Dr. Hansen and our ICBVI
During your appointment, Dr. Hansen will
work with you identifying treatment options, which may include:
that will help you adapt, such as magnifiers,
telephones or closed-circuit televisions, spectacle microscopes, and
telescopes which will improve your ability to see detail (read or watch
TV) but may require you to hold material close to your eyes or see
through only a small field of view.
that will help you utilize your remaining vision. There are many eye
movements that will help you use your remaining vision more efficiently.
to maximize your remaining vision. These include better lighting for
Adaptive non-optical devices,
such as large-print calendars, address books, check registers, and
How do I prepare for a Low Vision Evaluation?
Prior to your appointment, please
Bring these items with you to
your low vision appointment:
Any eyeglasses, sunglasses or magnifying devices you are using.
Medicare card, if applicable. Please bring this card even if you have a
Medicare Advantage insurance policy.
Medical insurance card(s), if applicable.
Social Security #.
Where is the Low Vision Clinic located?
Low Vision Clinic is located in the basement of the Idaho Commission for
the Blind building in downtown Boise at 341 West Washington Street on
the southeast corner of 4th and Washington. The 4 story red brick
building is one block north of State Street in the vicinity of the State
Capitol building, the VA Hospital, and St. Luke’s Hospital.
From Nampa or Meridian, take I84 toward Boise. As
you come into Boise, stay left on I84 to take the Boise City Center
Connector to the center of downtown Boise. The I84 Connector becomes
Myrtle Street. Stay on Myrtle and continue past Capitol Boulevard. Turn
left onto 5th Street.
eight blocks until you reach Washington Street.
Turn right onto Washington Street. Go one
block to 4th Street. The Commission for the Blind is on the right at the
corner of 4th and Washington.
From Mountain Home, take I84 into Boise. Take the Broadway exit north
toward Boise State University.
Stay on Broadway and continue past BSU.
Turn left onto State Street.
Go four blocks and turn right onto 4th
Street. The Commission for the Blind is on the right at the corner of
4th and Washington.
If you have a handicapped permit, you may park in the handicapped spaces
in the parking lot next to our building. Otherwise, parking is available
only on the street. Street parking is both metered ($1.00 per hour) and
non-metered (free). With a handicapped permit, all street parking is
You may temporarily park in the loading zone directly in front of the
Commission for the Blind building on Washington Street. Adjacent to the
loading zone area is the direct entrance into the basement with a
wheelchair ramp to facilitate easy access into the clinic.
Map to get to
What is the cost of a Low Vision Evaluation?
Please contact our office for specific
fees for the low vision clinic services. If you have insurance, we will
submit an insurance claim on your behalf. However, we cannot guarantee
payment. Note that some insurance policies require a pre-authorization
for low vision clinic services. Please let us know about this
requirement at the time you call our office to make your appointment. We
will make every effort to assist you in the pre-authorization process.
How long does the Low Vision Rehabilitation Process take?
Low vision rehabilitation is a
continuous process. What works for you today may not work for you in six
months. The effectiveness of low vision aid devices and techniques will
depend on the stability of your eye condition. Most importantly,
remember that low vision rehabilitation will not restore your sight but
will help you use your remaining vision to its fullest potential.
initial evaluation appointment, we may need to schedule a follow up
visit to make sure you are reaching your visual goals and the devices
are working effectively. It will require some hard work on you part so
don’t be disappointed if it takes time to become efficient using low
vision aids. We are here to assist you throughout this process.
For more information or to set up an
appointment, contact Lynn Vaughan, Low Vision Clinic Office Manager, at (208)
639-8381 or email at