How to Assist Visually Impaired Patients as a Medical Assistant

As a medical assistant you may be asked to help care for patients with visual impairments. Here are some tips on how you can provide the best possible care.

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As a medical assistant you may be called upon to assist visually impaired patients from time to time. There are a few things you can do to make their experience more enjoyable and comfortable.

First, when you greet the patient, let them know who you are and why you are there. Speak in a clear, calm voice and be patient as they may need a little extra time to orient themselves.

If they are able to see partially, offer to help them read any materials they may need assistance with. If they are completely blind, offer to describe any visuals that may be important for them to know about, such as diagrams or pictures in a medical chart.

During the examination, let the patient know what you are doing each step of the way. For example, “I am now going to take your blood pressure.” Also, be sure to provide verbal cues if you need to move them into a different position, such as “Please scoot down a bit so I can get a better view.”

At the end of the visit, review what was discussed and ask if they have any questions or concerns. Thank them for their time and let them know that you enjoyed meeting them.

The prevalence of visual impairment

Visual impairment is a common disability worldwide, with an estimated 1.3 billion people affected1. Of these, about 36 million are blind and 217 million have low vision2. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in industrialised countries, and cataract is the main cause of curable blindness globally3. Other common causes of visual impairment include glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and trachoma.

In 2010, it was estimated that about 90% of the world’s visually impaired population lived in low-income settings4. The vast majority live in rural areas and most are women5.

1 World Health Organization. 2013. Visual Impairment and Blindness. Fact sheet n°282. (accessed July 2015).
2 Pascolini D, Mariotti SP, West S, Reynolds JFJAGIV Study Group Global estimates of visual impairment: 2010 (accessed July 2015). et al. Lancet Glob Health 2012; doi:10.1016/ S2214-109X(12)70113-X
3 World Health Organization.. 2013.. Visual Impairment and Blindness.. Fact sheet n°282.. http://www .who .int /mediacentre /factsheets /fs282 /en / (accessed July 2015)..
4 Bourne RRPA, Flaxman SRDIABETIC Retinopathy: A Systematic Review and Meta‐analysis2010 https://www .ncbi .nlm .nih .gov /pmc /articles /PMC2828775 / pdf /nihms -165649 .pdf (accessed July 2015).. et al.; The Annual Global burden of Disease Study 2010; London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; London; 2012.. Available at: http://www .thelancet .com /journals /lancet /article /PIIS0140673612614183/abstract ..
5 World Health Organization.. 2009.. Low Vision and Blindness due to Uncorrected Refractive Error among Adults in Developing Countries: Causes and Consequenceshttps://www .ncbi .nlm .nih .gov /pmc /articles /PMC2750640 (accessed July 2015). Available at: http://www .whoa”

The types of visual impairments

There are different types of visual impairments, each with its own set of symptoms and treatment options. The most common type of visual impairment is low vision, which is defined as a vision loss that can’t be corrected by standard glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. People with low vision may have trouble reading or seeing Fine details. They may also have difficulty with glare and contrast sensitivity.

The impact of visual impairment on patients

The loss of vision can have a profound impact on patients, both physically and emotionally. As a medical assistant you may be called upon to provide support to patients who are struggling to adjust to their new reality. There are a few things you can do to help make the transition easier for them.

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that every patient is different and will cope in his or her own way. Some patients may be angry or depressed, while others may take the news in stride. It’s important to be patient and understanding, no matter what the reaction is.

Second, you can help by providing practical assistance. This may include helping the patient fill out paperwork or insurance forms, getting groceries or other necessities, or providing transportation to doctor’s appointments. any little bit helps and shows that you care.

Finally, you can provide emotional support. This may involve simply listening to the patient talk about his or her experiences and feelings, or providing encouragement and words of hope when needed. Sometimes just knowing that someone cares can make all the difference in the world.

The challenges faced by Medical assistants in assisting visually impaired patients

As a medical assistant you may at some point in your career encounter patients who have visual impairments. Whether the patient is blind, has low vision, or is colorblind, there are certain challenges you may face when assisting them.

One of the most important things you can do when working with visually impaired patients is to take the time to orient them to their surroundings. This means introducing them to the staff, telling them where they are going to be sitting, and describing any waiting areas or exam rooms they will be spending time in. It is also important to speak clearly and slowly, using short sentences.

When taking a patient’s medical history, it is important to be as specific as possible about their symptoms and health concerns. Ask open-ended questions that allows the patient to give as much detail as possible. If the patient is blind, it may be helpful to have someone else write down their answers for them.

When performing a physical examination on a visually impaired patient, be sure to describe each step of the process as you go along. This includes everything from washing your hands to using a stethoscope. Let the patient know if anything feels abnormal or out of the ordinary so they can alert their doctor.

There are many adaptive devices and technologies available that can help visually impaired patients live relatively normal lives. As a medical assistant, it is important to be familiar with these so you can make appropriate recommendations to your patients. For example, large print books and Braille writing tools can help those who are blind or have low vision with reading and writing tasks. Low vision eyeglasses and magnifiers can also be helpful in maximizing what little sight a patient has left. There are also talking watches and GPS devices that can help orientation and mobility for those who are blind or visually impaired.

Strategies for assisting visually impaired patients

There are a number of strategies that Medical Assistants can use to assist visually impaired patients. First, it is important to clearly and slowly articulate all instructions. Second, provide step-by-step verbal instructions when escorting a visually impaired patient to another location within the medical facility. Third, use descriptive terms when describing changes in the patient’s physical appearance or symptoms. Finally, be patient and understanding when communicating with visually impaired patients.

The role of technology in assisting visually impaired patients

While some visually impaired patients may not require much assistance, others may need help with many aspects of their care. As a medical assistant, you can use a variety of technology to help visually impaired patients with their care.

For example, you can use text-to-speech software to read aloud patient information, instructions, and educational materials. You can also use screen-reading software to help patients fill out forms and navigate websites. In addition, there are a variety of devices that can help visually impaired patients with daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, and grooming.

If you are working with a visually impaired patient, it is important to be patient and take the time to explain things in detail. You should also be aware of the resources available to both you and the patient and know how to access them if needed. With the right supports in place, you can help visually impaired patients receive the quality care they deserve.

The importance of training for medical assistants in assisting visually impaired patients

As a medical assistant, you may be called upon to assist visually impaired patients from time to time. It is important to be properly trained in how to do this so that you can provide the best possible care for your patients.

There are a few things that you should keep in mind when assisting visually impaired patients:

– Make sure that you identify yourself and let the patient know who you are.
– Speak slowly and clearly, and be patient.
– Ask the patient if they need help before providing it.
– Be aware of your body language and make sure that you are not looming over the patient.
– When escorting a visually impaired patient, always offer your arm and let them take hold of it. Walk slowly and give them plenty of time to process information about their surroundings.
– Avoid sudden movements or loud noises that could startle the patient.

If you take the time to learn how to properly assist visually impaired patients, you will be able to provide them with the care and compassion that they deserve.


Even though you may feel like you do not know where to start when it comes to helping a visually impaired patient, there are some easy ways to make a difference. By using your verbal skills, paying attention to detail, and advocating for your patients, you can help them receive the best possible care.


There are a few ways in which you can provide support to visually impaired patients as a medical assistant. Below are some ideas to get you started.

-Learn about common eye conditions that cause vision loss. This will help you better understand the needs of your patients.
-Be patient and take your time when communicating with visually impaired patients. Speak clearly and slowly, and be sure to let them know if you need to leave the room for any reason.
-If possible, offer to guide visually impaired patients around the office or hospital. Let them know if there are steps or obstacles in their path.
-When taking vital signs, be sure to explain what you’re doing and why. For example, “I’m going to place this blood pressure cuff on your arm. This will help us check your blood pressure.”
-Make use of large print materials and Braille when possible. This will help ensure that visually impaired patients have access to important information.

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