Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired Title


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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 to 2 hours with Dr. Hansen and our ICBVI technicians.

During your appointment, Dr. Hansen will work with you identifying treatment options, which may include:
Optical devices 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.

Techniques that will help you utilize your remaining vision. There are many eye movements that will help you use your remaining vision more efficiently.

Environmental modifications to maximize your remaining vision. These include better lighting for high contrast.

Adaptive non-optical devices, such as large-print calendars, address books, check registers, and talking watches.

How do I prepare for a Low Vision Evaluation?
Prior to your appointment, please complete the PATIENT QUESTIONNAIRE.

Bring these items with you to your low vision appointment:
Any eyeglasses, sunglasses or magnifying devices you are using.
Your insurance card(s).


Where is the Low Vision Clinic located?
The ICBVI 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 building is one block north of State Street and five blocks from Saint Luke’s Hospital.

If you’re driving on the freeway from the west (Nampa, Meridian, etc.), take the Boise City Center exit to the center of town, past Capitol Boulevard, and turn left on 5th Street.  Drive eight blocks until you reach Washington Street.  Turn right for one block. 

If you’re driving on the freeway from the southeast (Mountain Home, Twin Falls, etc.), take the Broadway exit to the center of town, past Warm Springs.  Turn left on State Street, and take the right fork to Fort Street.  Drive four blocks to 4th Street.  Turn left for two blocks, until you reach Washington Street.

You may park in the adjacent parking lot if you have a handicapped permit. Otherwise, limited parking is available only on the street.  There is some metered parking available on 4th Street. Metered parking costs $1.00 per hour; however, there is no charge if you have a handicapped permit. There is a loading zone directly in front of the building on Washington Street where you can unload your passengers and get them settled before searching for a parking space.
Map to get to ICBVI

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.

After your 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