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Low Vision Clinic


Low Vision Clinic Banner with listed dates of the event


Low Vision Clinics


      NMSBVI’s Low Vision Clinics offer an opportunity to identify infants, toddlers, and students around New Mexico (birth to 21 years) who may have vision impairment.  The mobile clinic offers a special medical examination to determine whether assistive devices might help visual functioning.  The clinics are provided at no cost to parents and school districts.  Several clinics are offered in different parts of the state each year.

What is “Low Vision”?

     Students who have a reduced level of visual functioning that interferes with their educational and day-to-day activities, but still have some degree of functionally useful vision, are typically referred to as having “low vision”.


Dr. Powell stands and points to lines on a contrast sensitivity chart as Jade Danella leans forward from her chair to read the fading letters



Why be seen at a Low Vision Clinic?

  • to establish a baseline of acuity measurement and general visual functioning level (for very young or nonverbal children, it may be possible to use non-traditional methods to obtain a general indication of visual functioning and a prognosis of expected vision development

  • to help parents and teachers to better understand “how” he/she sees

  • to determine if there is refractive error (and a need for eyeglasses)

  • to provide information and assistance in determining appropriate learning media, literacy media and print size

  • to assess visual skills and determine if they may be a factor in concerns regarding other developmental areas

  • to determine if low vision devices, technology equipment or other adaptations and accommodations will enhance functioning and to assist educational team members with trial and/or acquisition of recommended devices, equipment, or strategies

  • to provide reevaluation to determine if visual function is improving, remaining stable, or otherwise changing (it is important that students return for follow-up visits as growth and maturation affects a student’s need)

  • to assess vision in terms of acquiring a learner’s permit of driver’s license when appropriate

  • to assess whether there is a need for other related services such as Orientation and Mobility (O&M)

  • the Low Vision Clinic Team includes professionals who are available to explore suggestions and possibly demonstrate some learning techniques and equipment



February is low vision awareness month poster



How is the Low Vision Clinic different from a regular eye exam?

  • a doctor of optometry with specialized training in working with students with low vision will measure how well the student sees
  • throughout the evaluation, the student’s family, medical personnel and a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairment (TSVI) will confer
  • the assessment process includes:
    • functional vision
    • the student and family’s goals
    • reading medium and speeds


Dr. Powell holds an eye chart with numbers as Jade Danella reads them from her seat while Instructor Kellie Clark and LVC Coordinator Margaret Hidalgo observe



What should I expect from a Low Vision Clinic?*

  • because the age and individual needs of each student determine the time needed, expect to spend one to three hours at the clinic

  • parents and the students TSVI are encouraged to accompany the student to the clinic and participate throughout the process

  • additional time will be needed depending on the follow-up trial with devices provided

  • a summary report of findings will be sent to the student’s parents and the student’s TVI (these results can be an essential component in the process of identifying the needs and outcomes for students with low vision)

  • follow-up services will be planned as appropriate (the Low Vision Clinic Coordinator and TSVIs provide follow-up training on recommended low vision devices)

  • assistive technology help is available at each clinic

    • if assistive technology is recommended, NMSBVI specialists can meet and provide additional input and recommendations



A close up picture a an eye chart.

Considerations for a Child Who Has Multiple Disabilities

  • students of all ability levels are welcome to the clinic (however, the appropriateness of a Low Vision Clinic evaluation for a child with additional disabilities depends on variables that need to be considered by parents, the TSVI, and perhaps other members of the child’s educational team)
  • children with multiple disabilities often respond best in a familiar environment and so may not always test true to their ability level during a clinical evaluation (consideration should be given to unpredictable physical states or the effects of medications)
  • parents and other team members should carefully consider possible variables and weigh their expectations for the outcome

What is the referral process for a Low Vision Clinic Evaluation?

  • referrals are typically initiated by a Teacher for Students with Visual Impairment (TSVI) or a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS)
  • the TSVI and COMS typically act as the contact person for the educational team throughout the referral process
  • another member of the education team may make the referral if  the student has been identified with visual impairment, but is not receiving services from a TSVI or COMS
  • when completed forms are received by the office, the student will be scheduled for an appointment time at the Low Vision Clinic or put on a waiting list (you will be contacted to confirm appointment time)

How does a child get registered for a Low Vision Clinic?

  • a student must qualify for services as a student with a visual impairment
    • referrals are made by a student’s Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVI), Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist, or another member of the educational team
  • it’s never too early to register a student!  (clinics fill up quickly so as soon as a student’s attendance is verified, call Margaret Hidalgo at 575-415-6044 to sign up)
  • all paperwork is available in English and Spanish and due 4 weeks prior to the clinic date (links to forms are below)
  • scheduling does not occur until paperwork is completed and returned


For additional information about the Low Vision Clinic or Low Vision Services, please contact:



An image of Margaret Hidalgo

Margaret Hidalgo

Low Vision Coordinator