National Centre, collaboration with the WHO renewed


The agreement is valid until May 2020: from visual rehabilitation to prevention, to psychological assistance to the visually impaired

polo-riabilitazione-visiva-touch-lg.jpgIt is a one of a kind World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre in the field of blindness prevention and visual rehabilitation. We’re talking about the National Centre, which has just renewed an agreement with the WHO for a further three years (until May 1, 2020).

What is our National Centre

The National Centre of Services and Research for the Prevention of Blindness and Vision Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired – which is based at the A. Gemelli Polyclinic Hospital in Rome – works with people who are affected by a significant reduction in vision: thanks to vision rehabilitation, they can improve their quality of life. The National Centre can count on a multidisciplinary team, consisting of various professionals, such as ophthalmologists, orthoptists, psychologists, orientation and mobility instructors, etc. (Read more) ipovedente-riabilitazione-visiva-web-okimg_1550-photospip9a090323c29d669c2795c716f0e8f973.jpg

More psychology and rehabilitation for the visually impaired

The visually impaired are generally trained to make the most of their residual vision and receive psychological support too. [[thanks to a holistic approach that considers the person as a whole, following scientifically validated procedures]]. Once rehabilitation has started [[reading exercises, use of paracentral vision in case of maculopathy, etc.]], in some cases patients can continue their training at home on their computer. This is known as home telerehabilitation, which the National Centre has developed thanks to the dedicated work of several specialists.

The new objectives of the WHO Collaborating Centre also include a new version of an international psychological questionnaire. In essence, those who go to an accredited centre for visual impairment and rehabilitation can receive, in the future, a possible diagnosis of depression/anxiety related to a significant reduction in vision. In this case rehabilitative therapies can be “modeled” on the psychological state of the patient.

The National Centre is a state-of-the-art hypovision centre founded and managed by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness-IAPB Italy. Opened at the end of 2007, it has been operating since 2008. It became a WHO Collaborating Centre in 2013.

Sources: WHO, IAPB

Vision rehabilitation, a worldwide overview



consensus_conference-esperti-foto-gruppo-web-ok2.jpgMore ophthalmological data, more collaboration between professionals, integrated rehabilitative paths to teach visually impaired people to see better. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness-IAPB Italy and WHO have joined together to identify common standards for vision rehabilitation worldwide.

Even though today there are no internationally shared standards, specific steps are being taken towards this aim.

These issues were addressed in Rome – from 12th to 15th December 2015 – thanks to an International Conference promoted by the WHO and coordinated by the National Centre of Services and Research for the Prevention of Blindness and Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired [[founded by IAPB Italy at the A. Gemelli Hospital in Rome, a WHO Collaborating Centre]], which saw experts from around the world participate in a four-day meeting, including ophthalmologists, epidemiologists, WHO regional managers, etc.

A Report was finally published that details the contents of this Consensus Conference in 2017. The Report reads:

This document is the outcome of a consultative process to elaborate international standards on vision rehabilitation. The process, which began in 2014, culminated in the International Consensus Conference on Vision rehabilitation […].

Among other things it reminds us that:

● a visually impaired person should follow a multidisciplinary rehabilitative path that is focused on the person, not merely on clinical aspects;
● vision rehabilitation should be commensurate to individual objectives and any risks that are to be assumed;
● it is necessary to have better collaboration and cooperation, as well as good communication, among all the professionals involved in the rehabilitative path;
● the lack of data at national level on the requirements related to vision rehabilitation demands the collection of new data to identify the needs of the population and ascertain whether these needs are being satisfied.

Report of Consensus Conference 2015

Main sources: WHO, IAPB

Visual rehabilitation of patients with Stargardt’s disease


The National Centre and the Ophthalmology Clinic of A. Gemelli polyclinic have completed an in-depth analysis of the retina of visually impaired patients, also studying their reading abilities

foto_fondo_sovrapposizione_esami-web.jpgConsider a disease such as Stargardt’s maculopathy. People who suffer from it have great difficulties in reading, are dazzled by sunlight and their visual abilities progressively weaken in their youth and over their working life, in particular, at the centre of the visual field.

What can be done? Today, there is no known cure, as Stargardt’s maculopathy is a genetically transmitted retinal dystrophy, but patients can learn to make the most of their residual visual skills, regain self confidence and improve their quality of life. All this thanks to visual rehabilitation.

(Read all…)

Conference on low vision in The Netherlands



aia-edificio.jpgVision rehabilitation of the visually impaired is a global human right. This was the central theme of the 12th International Conference on low vision research and rehabilitation, which was inaugurated on the 25th June 2017, and continued until the 29th June, in The Hague.


A significant reduction of visual abilities has a dramatic impact on lives and the visually impaired risk encountering difficulties in all aspects of their daily routines, including serious limitations in their social life participation and interaction with others.

Low vision is often associated with depression, emotional stress and a reduced quality of life. Many visually impaired people are elderly and are generally affected by at least one illness (often chronic). “The goal of low vision rehabilitation – the organizers write – is to enhance the ability of the patient’s remaining vision”.

Among the participants at the Dutch event were the Department of Ophthalmology and low vision research of the VU University Medical Center of Amsterdam and a large part of the scientific academic community that operates in this field. The European Society for low vision research and rehabilitation and its Dutch branch also attended the event.


“OMS standards for visual rehabilitation: a new perspective”: this is the title of the report presented by Filippo Amore, director of The National Centre of Services and Research for the Prevention of Blindness and Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired, on 29th June, 2017. Such standards must not be considered suitable for everybody, but proportionally, for instance, according to the level of socio-economic development of a country or specific area.

riabilitazione-visiva-polo_nazionale-oculista_e_ortottista-web-ok-photospip4542676d9f63ad3018df77e2de2a8bc4.jpgAmong the numerous initiatives, we recall those of June 28th, relating to the posters dedicated to “Automation, information technology and e-health.” Among these, we’d like to mention the poster designed by the National Centre team, dedicated to the data collected during rehabilitation activities (over 900 patients between January 2013 and December 2016) and analyzed in an electronic format.

Valeria Silvestri (orthoptist of the National Centre) focused her attention on evaluation methods within the telerehabilitation program for the visually impaired. The National Centre has in fact started a hi-tech remote rehabilitative path thanks to which, after the start of the rehabilitative program at the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome, patients can continue by themselves from home, by doing specific exercises on the computer. Their results are then evaluated remotely by a professional of the National Centre.

Main source: Vision2017

The problem of teenage smoking and overweight in Italy


WHO Europe presented a new report: Italy has the second highest life expectancy. Experts and politicians met up in Rome from 17th to 20th September

pacchetto_sigarette-web-elaborazione_graf.jpgStop smoking, it could “cloud” your health. Despite the written warning on cigarette packets in Italy that “smoking increases the risk of blindness”, Italian teenagers seem to turn a blind eye, so to speak, to this kind of cautionary advice. In a meeting held in Rome from 17th to 20th September 2018, which was opened by the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, WHO Europe presented an alarming Report Italian teenagers are the ones who smoke the most in Europe.

(Read more…)

World Sight Day: Eye Care Everywhere

It was celebrated on 11th October, 2018 with initiatives promoted by IAPB Italy. Together with the Italian Society of Ophthalmology, IAPB Italy invited many ophthalmologists to take action for prevention

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness-IAPB Italy promoted a number of events, such as free eye examinations, on World Sight Day, which was celebrated on 11th October 2018 together with the World Health Organization (WHO).

More than half a million informative leaflets on prevention were distributed inside 7,000 ophthalmologist’s offices and 11,000 opticians…

(Read more…)

White Paper on Vision Rehabilitation in Italy

The status and trend of chronic eye diseases, causing severe visual impairment with serious repercussions on individuals’ perceived quality of life, are currently increasing. A rise can also be observed in the number of subjects with low vision requiring personalized vision rehabilitation pathways, structured on the basis of the bio-psycho-social model, which considers the human being as a mind-body ‘unicum’, not yet available country-wide as a standard of care… Read it all…