The Centre for Sight Enhancement (CSE) exists as an identifiable "research group" within the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry. It carries out the following activities in the area of vision rehabilitation:
- Clinical low vision teaching,
- Clinical low vision rehabilitation services, and
- Low vision research
The CSE is managed by an Executive Committee that is composed of the CSE Director (Plotkin), the CSE Associate Director (Labreche), and the CSE Administrator (Snell). This Executive Committee is a semi-autonomous body that is responsible to the School of Optometry administration through the CSE Director. This reporting structure is consistent with that of all other Centres within the School. “Low Vision Services” is the term used to identify all service components included in the provision of clinical low vision rehabilitation.
Ongoing CSE low vision rehabilitation activities include the following component services:
- Clinical low vision assessment services (this is the pivotal service that is provided at the CSE);
- Prescriptive services (assessment leading to the prescription of assistive devices and related services for people with low vision);
- Referral services (assessment leading to referrals for specialized optometric and non-optometric services as required --- including diagnostic, treatment, and other intervention services that are not available within the CSE);
- Counselling services (including adjustment to low vision and other psychosocial adjustments, family issues, educational and vocational issues);
- Advocacy service (related to legal, social, educational, vocational, and funding issues that may be identified in the course of our patient interactions);
- Dispensing services (including specifying, ordering, receiving, and delivering assistive devices to CSE clients);
- High technology services (assessment, prescribing, and implementation of high technology device solutions that are fully integrated with other low vision services being provided);
- Itinerant low vision services (The CSE provides some services to people with unmet low vision needs. These include outreach to those living in retirement communities and itinerant high-technology services to Windsor, Ontario in partnership with CNIB.)
All low vision clinicians are ultimately accountable to the Associate Director of Clinical Programs.
CSE services are carried out by personnel in each of the following position categories:
- Low vision clinicians - optometrists who are primarily involved in the provision of clinical low vision services and supervision of optometry interns and residents.
- Low vision residents – Post-degree optometrists who provide clinical low vision and geriatric services under the supervision of clinicians.
- Optometry student interns – Senior (Yr IV) Optometry undergraduate students assigned to low vision clinic rotations under the direct supervision of CSE clinicians (or residents as necessary).
- High technology assessment specialists – Staff with specialized training and experience in the assessment and authorization of high technology low vision devices and services.
- CSE administrator – Staff member responsible for managing administrative activities and staff.
- Low vision rehabilitation counsellor – Staff member primarily responsible for counselling services and connecting patients to community resources.
- Low vision therapist – Staff member with specialized training and experience in vision rehabilitation who assists with assessment and training.
- Administrative staff – Staff members responsible for reception, appointment scheduling, billing, accounting, filing, and patient information services.
- SEEPAC personnel – Sight Enhancement Equipment Pool and Assessment Centre (SEEPAC) is a contract held by CSE with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. SEEPAC personnel are responsible for all related technical services (service and repair), shipping and receiving, inventory management, and inventory database management.
Established in 1984, the CSE is Canada's first and only vision rehabilitation service to be accredited by the National Accreditation Council for Blind and Low Vision Services (NAC). It was first accredited in 1989, and subsequently re-accredited every five years thereafter. The Centre's mission is to promote Canadian excellence in all facets of blindness and low vision rehabilitation (with particular emphasis in the areas of clinical services and device technology).
The Centre for Sight Enhancement conducts systematic file reviews, or individualized service audits to review the quality and consistency of its low vision services. These may include informal evaluations (conducted using correspondence provided by patients, verbal communication from patients or family members, or feedback from collateral agencies, vision resource personnel, or other support service providers), or more formal evaluations (such as independent on-site reviews by the NAC).
The CSE also uses a Customer Satisfaction Survey and a separate survey for users of our counselling service to solicit opinions of clients who have visited our clinic.
Specific initiatives within the Centre include the Low Vision Clinic and the Sight Enhancement Equipment Pool and Assessment Centre (SEEPAC). These activities are supported by the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN) and the Assistive Devices Program, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.