Interpreting the Eye Report
By: Carmen Willings
Upon receiving the eye report, the Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) will need to interpret all the information contained within it. Eye reports, and the information they contain will typically vary greatly between doctors. Some ophthalmologists will write very detailed reports that will be typed while others will scribble a simple note. Although the reports can vary greatly, there are some things that must be included in the report in order to determine eligibility for school based vision services.
Basic items needed in an eye report include:
The TVI will define each diagnosis to help the team gain a better understanding of what part of the eye is affected, which will help team members understand what characteristics or difficulties the student may have. Keep in mind that two people with the same diagnosis will not necessarily have the same difficulties as the use of vision can also be related to cognitive abilities and previous experiences. It is also important to identify if the condition is stable or progressive or temporary and expected to improve. This will have a huge impact on the need for instruction and in what areas.
Don't assume that an ophthalmologist's report reflects the student's maximum vision or will provide you with all the information you need. You may even find that diagnosis changes or is left off from reports from year to year. Some eye reports will be thorough and provide much insight to the student's vision. Unfortunately, this is not the norm and many reports, particularly those performed on students with multiple disabilities will provide very little information and may not state a visual acuity, but a comment that the student was able to fix and follow or may indicate that there was no visual response.
It is helpful to obtain any other medical reports that the student may have. It is also important to talk with the caregiver, about the student's birth history and complications. Any reports or test performed on the brain may be very important including any seizure history or trauma. Review other medical records particularly any test results or reports that indicate there is any damage to the optic nerve. Results may lead to a suspicion that difficulties performing visual tasks are related to damage to the occipital nerve or other area of the brain related to vision. Certain medications can also affect visual functioning so it is important to identify current medications and any possible side effects.
The Dictionary of Eye Terminology is an essential resource for the TVI in interpreting visual diagnosis.
This Pediatric Visual Diagnosis Fact Sheet packet, available through the Blind Children's Center, is another wonderful resource to use when interpreting eye reports and implications on the student and possible classroom considerations.
Virginia Bishop put together this handbook on Selected Anomalies and Diseases of the Eye in 1986. I continue to use this resource as it has great information about a wide range of visual impairments including possible classroom implications and recommendations.
This presentation provides a walk-through of the process and steps of conducting a Functional Vision Evaluation and Learning/Reading Media Assessment. Key points include interpreting the eye report, materials to use in the assessment, conducting interviews and observations as well as strategies for direct assessment and writing a professional and thorough report that is informative to all audiences. Next steps are also covered including the importance of a low vision assessment, determining the need for additional assistive technology and implications for service.
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