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:
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.
Modifications to maximize your remaining vision. These include better lighting for
high contrast and
adaptive non-optical devices
such as large-print calendars, address books, check registers, and
How do I prepare for a Low Vision Evaluation?
PCall the Low Vision Clinic at 208-639-8381 when you are ready to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Hansen. When you call, our clinic staff will conduct a phone in-take survey to gather
information in preparation for the appointment. During the call, you will be advised about insurance billing, driving directions, items to bring to your appointment, and other general clinic
information. We are also available to answer any questions you may have at this time. Once the appointment is scheduled, we will send you a New Patient Packet prior to your appointment.
Where is the Low Vision Clinic located?
The 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. To access the Low Vision Clinic, use the basement
entrance on Washington Street.
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. Drive 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 free.
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.
What is the cost of a Low Vision Evaluation?
Please contact our office for current
clinic fees. If you are covered by Medicare and/or another major medical insurance policy, we will submit an insurance claim on your behalf. However, the clinic cannot
guarantee insurance coverage. Coverage is determined by individual
policy terms.To verify your policy’s coverage, you are advised to contact your insurance provider directly prior to the scheduled appointment. If one or more vision aids are recommended by Dr.
Hansen, these vision aids typically are not covered by Medicare or most
private insurance plans. You should expect to pay out of pocket for
these devices. Payment must be received prior to ordering or purchasing
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 your 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