Deakin Low Vision Initiative

Low Vision Resources for Optometrists

Referral Guidelines

Why You Might Refer

More than half a million Australians are estimated to have some sort of permanent vision impairment, but only 31% of these patients are believed to be aware of low vision rehabilitation services and barely 20% access the available services (1,2,3,4). This is despite reports suggesting that more than 90% could benefit from such services (5) since a significant number of vision impaired patients retain some useful sight and low vision rehabilitation services can help maximise their remaining sight and improve quality of life.

Referral Criteria for Comprehensive

Low Vision Supports and Services


A person should be considered for low vision services if they have uncorrectable vision loss that impacts their ability to perform activities of daily living, or that impacts their safety and / or well-being.


The person should be fully informed at an early stage and involved in decision making about the need for low vision services.

An optometrist might also consider referral once a person begins to fall below the vision standard for a private driver license. Link to driving standards, ‘Assessing Fitness to Drive’, Section 10.3 Medical standards for licensing

More Information

Where to refer: Link to low vision services and support organisations


  1. Foreman J, Xie J, Keel S, van Wijngaarden P, Sandhu SS, Ang GS, et al. The Prevalence and Causes of Vision Loss in Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians: The National Eye Health Survey. Ophthalmology. 2017: 124(12):1743–52.
  2. Muller, A., Vu, H. T., Ferraro, J. G., Keeffe, J. E., & Taylor, H. R. Utilization of eye care services in Victoria. Clin Exp Ophthalmol, 2006: 34(5), 445-448. doi:10.1111/j.1442-9071.2006.01234.x
  3. Taylor, H. R., Keeffe, J. E., Vu, H. T., Wang, J. J., Rochtchina, E., Pezzullo, M. L., & Mitchell, P. Vision loss in Australia. Med J Aust, 2005: 182(11), 565-568.
  4. O’Connor P, Keeffe J, Focus on Low Vision, Centre for Eye Research Australia. March 2007, CERA_FocusLowVision.pdf [Internet]. [cited 2018 Mar 8]. Available from:
  5. Hinds A, Sinclair A, Park J, Suttie A, Paterson H, Macdonald M. Impact of an interdisciplinary low vision service on the quality of life of low vision patients. Br J Ophthalmol. 2003: 87(11):1391–6.
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Patient Stories

Explaining why and when it is important for an optometrist to refer for low vision services.