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BSc Optometry / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Low Vision

Unit code OPTO30410
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by Optometry
Available as a free choice unit? No


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Optometric Examination B OPTO20100 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


The unit aims to give the student a level of knowledge and experience which will allow them to carry out the assessment and rehabilitation of a low vision patient.

Learning outcomes

  • To understand the multi-disciplinary nature of low vision rehabilitation.
  • To know the range of available optical and non-optical devices and strategies currently used in the rehabilitation of low vision patients: to understand the theoretical basis for them, their uses and limitations.
  • To be able to describe and distinguish between impairment; activity limitation and participation restriction
  • To know the causes and prevalence of low vision, and its impact on Western and world society and healthcare policy.
  • To appreciate the psychological impact of low vision on the individual, and show empathy with these individuals.
  • To be able to accurately determine and record the visual status of a visually impaired person, and to understand the functional implications of these findings, and how they relate to ocular pathology.
  • To be able to interact with a visually impaired patient and their carers in such a way as to gather the information required to accurately assess their situation, and to describe rehabilitative strategies.
  • To be able to critically evaluate a patient presentation, and select an appropriate management approach
  • To be able to measure and specify telescopic and other optical devices.
  • To be able to achieve the core competencies related to low vision required by the General Optical Council


Lecture/Seminar Content

  • Legal and functional definitions, registration; incidence and prevalence 
  • Magnification methods: real image magnification – electronic systems; telescopic magnification; methods for prescribing distance and near magnification; optics of plus-lens magnifiers 
  • Binocular correction; control of aberrations in plus lens magnifiers, availability in UK; hand-held and stand magnifiers 
  • Telescopes; focal telescopes, contact lens telescopes 
  • Aids to improve peripheral awareness; eccentric viewing, prism relocation; non-optical aids, environmental design, lighting, glare, tints 
  • Success rates with low vision aids and the role of training; outcome measures; sensory substitution; benefit of registration 

Practical Content

Each student sees about 3 patients at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and carries out ‘assignments’ covering the following topics: predicting magnification; problems of using magnifiers; the visual requirements for reading; measuring equivalent power of a plus lens; emergent vergence in fixed focus stands; identifying and measuring telescopes; reverse telescopes, field expanders and Peli prisms; optimising lighting.

Students must have prepared in advance for timetabled assignments.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 20%
Written exam 80%

2 hour written examination (80%) (comprising short answers (60%) and MCQ (40%)); and coursework (20%). The 20% coursework will be 10% end-of-year poster and viva, and 10% (2 x 5%) for other pieces of work during the year (1 individual and 1 group).  

Please note that the practical examinations in Low Vision, and any formal assessment of core competencies, are part of OPTO30200 and not this unit. 

Feedback methods

Optional regular on-line quizzes accompanying lectures. Discussion of questions during tutorials.

Recommended reading

  • Dickinson, C (1998) Low Vision: Principles and Practice. Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd
  • Nowakowski, R (1994) Primary Low Vision Care. Appleton and Lange

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Christine Dickinson Unit coordinator

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