The Vision for Independence Center (VIC) in Yakima serves people whose vision remains impaired even with prescription glasses and medical treatment. People of all ages, children through seniors, are welcome at VIC. We have volunteer staff who are available to translate for patients who only speak Spanish.
Low Vision Clinic
VIC offers a low vision clinic, which helps people make optimum use of their remaining sight. This is achieved by identifying the best adaptive devices for a patient’s visual needs. Each staff member is committed to providing all services with the highest degree of professionalism and care. The low vision evaluation at the clinic can be billed to Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance or can be paid by the patient. Patients without health insurance who have low income may qualify for financial assistance to pay for VIC services and assistive devices.
Anybody can refer a person who would benefit from a low vision evaluation, to VIC’s Low Vision Clinic. The person can self-refer or a family member, friend, physician, caregiver or therapist can refer someone to the clinic. Referrals can be made by calling the VIC message line at (509) 452-8301, by mailing a letter to: VIC, P.O. Box 2833, Yakima, WA 98907 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or faxing (509) 469-3970. Patients seen at the VIC Low Vision Clinic need to have had an eye health examination and refraction within the past two years. This is required to insure that treatment such as medication, surgery and prescription glasses, which could improve the patient’s vision, have been explored before coming to the low vision clinic.
After receiving the referral, the patient will be contacted and a phone intake interview performed. This takes about 20 minutes. The information gathered during this phone interview is important to the clinic’s staff as it helps them prepare themselves for the low vision evaluation with the patient. During the intake interview information about the patient’s date of birth, address and phone number, medical insurance, current living situation, eye and overall health, the patient’s eye physician, prescription glasses and magnification currently used, current visual abilities and challenges will be gathered. We will also ask what the patient hopes to be able to do or see again with devices and/or training recommended after the low vision evaluation. At the end of the phone interview, an appointment will be scheduled. Prior to the appointment, VIC will request documentation of the patient’s eye health, refraction, and past medical treatments of the eye from the patient’s eye physician.
The Low Vision Evaluation
The low vision evaluation is very different from a regular eye examination. The purpose of a regular eye examination is to prevent and treat illnesses of the eye, as well as find and correct refractive errors. If even after treatment and correction of the refractive error the patient’s vision stays impaired, a low vision evaluation can assist the patient with finding devices and visual skills training that will maximize the use of the remaining vision.
The evaluation will take one to one and half hours. An optometrist trained in low vision will evaluate the patient’s current visual functioning including his or her near and distance vision acuity, visual fields, need for increased contrast and task lighting, as well as sensitivity to bright light and glare. Once he has gathered all of this information, he will help the patient determine what type of near or distance magnifier, lamp, glare shield and/or sunglasses will work best for tasks that the patient currently struggles with due to reduced vision.
At the end of the evaluation, the optometrist will prescribe training and/or devices that will be helpful for the patient for certain visual tasks. Such tasks could include, but are not limited to, reading prescription bottle labels, tying a fly, watching TV, doing crossword puzzles, sewing, reading mail or the newspaper, seeing a computer screen, or writing checks and letters.
The Low Vision Clinic Store
The store is open during clinic hours. Devices recommended by the optometrist can be purchased in the low vision clinic store. A variety of devices especially designed for people with vision loss are available:
- Magnifiers and telescopes
- Task lamps
- Sunshades and glare shields
- Talking and large print devices
- Devices with extra large buttons and displays
- Adaptive devices for cooking, sewing, and medication management
- Large print and brailled games, including Bingo and playing cards
Talking devices and large print devices include alarm clocks, attractive watches for men and women, thermometers (cooking, indoor and outdoor), timers, caller IDs and glucometers. Examples of devices with large buttons and displays are telephones, caller IDs, calculators and remote controls. Adaptive cooking, sewing and medication management devices include protective cooking gloves to prevent burns and cuts, needle threaders or self-threading needles, and large print pill containers. Any items not in stock can be ordered and are often received in as little as one week.
Generally, medical insurance only covers the fee for the low vision evaluation; the purchase of any low vision devices is the patient’s responsibility. If a patient is in urgent need of a magnifier or other low vision device and has no resources to pay for it due to low income, VIC will try to assist with finding a sponsor to help purchase the device.
Cash, checks and credit and debit cards are the methods of payment accepted at the store. Items can be returned to the store for a full refund within 30 days of the receipt of the item, if they are undamaged, clean and still stored in the original packaging or if they show a material defect caused in manufacturing.
Referral to Other Resources
VIC is committed to connect patients and callers with other community, state and nationwide resources for residents with vision loss. Please learn more about these resources by visiting our Resources page.
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