Duke Eye Center has had a longstanding partnership with LC Industries (LCI), a manufacturing, distribution and retail company that is one of the largest employers of blind and visually impaired people in the U.S. Diane B. Whitaker, OD, division chief, vision rehabilitation & performance at Duke and the occupational therapists in her clinic have provided care for LCI employees at the Research Triangle Park site for many years. Whitaker initiated the proposal for LCI and William Hudson, former CEO and President of LCI who retired in 2019, to be primary benefactor of a state-of-the-art clinical pavilion that opened in 2015.
The relationship continues today with Jeffrey Hawting, at the helm. Earlier this year, LCI donated eSight devices - a head mounted electronic video magnifier, designed to offer the best visual acuity for those with visual impairment, making every day activities possible - to Whitaker’s low vision patients.
These devices were given to two Duke low vision patients, who before struggled to complete everyday tasks. Several factors go into selecting the proper candidate for eSight. “We look for clients who are going to benefit from using the device to improve participation in daily activities.” said Omar Mohiuddin, MPH, MS, OTR/L, occupational therapist at Duke Eye Center. Pairing these devices with clients who are already familiar with technology allows for a smooth transition when adopting assistive technology.
Unfortunately, the abandonment rate for assistive technology is over 70% so it is ideal to match the device with someone who will take advantage of its benefits on a regular basis. As with many new technologies, training is essential to ensure the device is used properly and at full potential to support the needs of the patient. Once the proper candidate is selected, Duke low vision occupational therapists demonstrate how to use the eSight device and offer practice with the technology by sitting down with the client to go over controls, how to properly store and clean the unit, and if they have any physical motor limitations, modify how they would use the device. Selected candidates are also asked to participate in daily activities using the device, including signing and reading documents, finding and reading signs, seeing and recognizing people and faces before using it on their own. eSight recipients have expressed gratitude for the devices and the impact they have made on their daily activities.
Duke Eye Center has worked with LCI for over a decade and will continue to partner with LCI in other ways to serve the Blind and Visually Impaired (BVI) community. One of the ways Whitaker and her staff contribute is by offering on-site vision screenings to LCI employees. The screenings often uncover conditions that are in need of treatment and are scheduled for follow-up care. One of the employees that participated in the screening is even driving again.
“We would like to thank LCI for their continued generous support of Duke Eye Center and our clinic. We are grateful for the ongoing collaboration to serve the blind and visually impaired community” said Whitaker.
“LCI is proud to support Duke Eye Center patients and the community and we look forward to future collaborations to serve the visually impaired”
Jeffrey Hawting, president, LC Industries