Vision Rehabilitation Services

three yellow dots

Learning to live with diminished vision is probably something you’ve never thought about, until you’ve had to. You’re feeling so many different emotions and worried about how this will impact your life.

VIA is here to provide the hope, confidence and empowerment you need to accomplish whatever is ahead for you. Whatever your path, you can accomplish nearly anything you did before vision loss; you’re just going to do it a little differently.

Do you or someone you care about have difficulty with any of the following due to vision loss?

  • Reading small or standard print
  • Identifying medications / dosage instructions
  • Keyboarding / Computer use
  • Watching television
  • Recognizing faces
  • Seeing price-tags or reading menus
  • Identifying and organizing household items
  • Telling time
  • Planning / preparing meals
  • Accessing information / resources
  • Adjusting and/or coping with vision loss
  • Training for and/or obtaining employment
  • Preforming specific job tasks
  • Job retention due to vision loss
  • Safe indoor and outdoor travel

What is vision rehabilitation?

The term “vision rehabilitation” includes a wide range of professional services that help restore function after vision loss, just as physical therapy restores function after a stroke or other injury. 

Although your eye doctor is the professional you’ll likely turn to first when you notice any changes in your vision, it’s important to know that many different kinds of vision rehabilitation services are available in addition to the eye care provided by your family doctor, ophthalmologist or optometrist. In fact, your own doctor may not be aware of, or refer you to, these comprehensive vision rehabilitation services.

Here at VIA, we offer comprehensive vision services to individuals of all ages to help maximize functional vision, safety, independence and quality of life.

LOW VISION CLINIC

  • What is Low Vision?

A visual impairment that cannot be improved with standard glasses or contact lenses, medicine or surgery, that interferes with a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.

  • What is Vision Rehabilitation?

Vision Rehabilitation includes an array of professional services that help to maximize safety, independence and quality of life following vision loss.   Services may be provided in the home, school or workplace.

  • How is a Low Vision Exam different from what my eye doctor does?

Your ophthalmologist will continue to monitor and treat the health of your eyes. Our Doctor of Optometry, a Certified Low Vision Therapist (CLVT), will perform a thorough evaluation of your vision, talk with you about your goals and determine what additional services will help you achieve those goals.

about our provider dr. james simmons

Dr Simmons smiling at the camera wearing a VIA gray sweatshirt

James Allan Simmons, a native to WNY, graduated from Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Philadelphia, PA in 1993.  There he earned his Doctorate of Optometry and Master of Science in Vision Rehabilitation.  Prior to that he attended LeMoyne College in Syracuse, NY where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology

His externships included training at William Feinbloom Vision Rehabilitation Center, VA Medical Center in Manchester, NH, Low Vision Associates in Southfield, MI and the NYS Commission for the Blind.

Dr. Simmons has been employed within VIA’s Vision Rehabilitation Department as our Certified Low Vision Therapist for over 20 years.  He demonstrates compassion for each individual that sits in his exam chair.

He currently resides in the Town of Tonawanda with his wife Kate and one of their three daughters.  The family shares a passion for hockey, all three daughters play and Dr. Simmons has coached various youth hockey programs for years.  He was also very active with the Kenmore-Town of Tonawnada School District both on the Literacy Committee and as a Board of Education Trustee.

What can I expect during the low vision exam?

The Low Vision exam is quite different from a routine eye exam. You can expect to be with us for a minimum of 45 minutes, maybe longer for new patients. We will begin by gathering an extensive health history and getting information about you and how vision loss is affecting you, your family and your life. We’ll ask that you bring any items that you’re currently utilizing including any eyeglasses or magnifiers.

We’ll talk with you about you eye condition and answer your questions on what you might experience moving forward. We suggest having a friend/family member with you in the exam room since there is a lot of information.

Dr. Simmons will be trying a variety of lenses to assist you in seeing at a distance and reading print. We’ll talk about lighting and how it affects your ability to perform activities of daily living. If applicable, we’ll make recommendations for additional vision rehabilitation services that might be beneficial in maximizing your independence. We hear so often from our patients that they wish they would’ve known about us or come to see us sooner.

clinic hours

Monday – Thursday

8:00 AM – 4:30 PM

To make an appointment at on of our locations please call us at

(716) 888-4556

VIA eye clinic waiting room. Bright orange chairs up against a wall.

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clinic locations

MAIN CAMPUS

1170 Main Street,

Buffalo, NY 14209

Sheridan Drive Office Entrance

NORTHTOWNS

1491 Sheridan Drive,

Suite 600

Tonawanda, NY 14217

Lockport Office front desk

NIAGARA COUNTY

20 Lock Street,

Lockport, NY 14094

rehabilitation services

If you’re experiencing vision loss you’re probably wondering “how am I going to get through each day?” How am I going to take care of myself and my family, how will I plan and prepare meals, how am I going to pay the bills.

Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (VRTs) are specially trained professionals that will work with you in becoming independent in doing all of these things. With the use of adaptive tools and techniques you can do almost everything you did before vision loss, you’re just going to do it a little differently.

Some of the core areas addressed by a VRT include:

Communications Training
  • Handwriting guides for making lists
  • Using the phone or mobile device
  • Keyboarding
  • Telling time
  • Braille instruction
Meal Management
  • Stove and oven safety
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Labeling and organization
Financial Management
  • Check writing and record keeping
  • Money identification
  • Online banking and auto-pay

home management

  • General housekeeping/cleaning
  •  Laundry, clothing care and identification
  • Small home repairs
  • Outlet use, replacing batteries

Personal & Family Care

  • Medication identification
  • Make-up application and grooming
  • Childcare

Managing the workplace

  • Organizational skills for the workplace
  • Labeling
  • Adaptive techniques

The ability to get around, and to do so safely, whether indoors or out, is a key element of independence.
VIA employs a team of professional orientation and mobility (O&M) instructors who work one-on-one with you to set and meet your mobility goals. Whether it’s getting around your own home, neighborhood or workplaces; you may need or desire to travel outdoors in business or urban settings. Through a variety of methods including use of residual vision, a sighted guide, long cane, guide dog or current technology, you can learn to travel with confidence.

With the right techniques, you can safely navigate indoor areas such as stairs, elevators, halls and restrooms; and outdoor environments like shopping plazas, parking lots, sidewalks and intersections. Our instructors work with you in the very places you travel each day: homes, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods. For those who choose to learn the use of public transportation, the options are endless.

At VIA, independence is just a few steps away.

Experiencing vision loss can be a life changing event for you and your family. Whether you have recently been diagnosed or have been living with vision loss for a long time, it is normal to go through a grieving process as you adjust to vision loss. Family members may also go through a process of grieving and adjustment. You may experience a range of emotional reactions, including: shock, panic, denial of vision loss, isolation, guilt, shame, regret, mourning, sadness or depression, and anger, but also hope, confidence, and a desire to help others with vision loss. It is normal for you and/or your family members to worry that you may not be able to continue working, living independently, or safely participating in favorite activities or hobbies. 

Fortunately, most people find that vision rehabilitation training allows individuals to continue working, living independently, and enjoying a productive and meaningful life. It is healthy to acknowledge your feelings about vision loss, remember past challenges you have successfully overcome during your life, and educate your family, friends, and others about vision loss. It may also be helpful to learn about resources and services in your community, and meet others who are also adjusting to vision loss. 

Social Casework Services focus on meeting physical, emotional, and social needs throughout the adjustment to vision loss process. Licensed social workers can assist with learning how to access community resources, services, and benefits, provide opportunities to meet others with vision loss, self-advocating, and educating others about vision loss. Social Casework Services can also include individual and group adjustment counseling. 

VIA offers a short-term men and women’s support group facilitated by licensed social workers, as well as an ongoing peer support group led by volunteers who have successfully adjusted to vision loss.

Are you or someone you know having difficulty reading print, seeing the television, setting the thermostat, using the phone, identifying medications or any other activity due to vision loss?
VIA has been providing its Senior Vision Services (SVS) Program to Erie County residents, age 55 years and older since 1986.

The program provides vision rehabilitation services designed to maximize the safety, independence and quality of life of seniors experiencing vision loss.

QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE PROGRAM
• Erie County Resident
• 55 years of age or older
• Visually Impaired

Our FREE home-based assessment, in conjunction with our low vision services provided by our clinical staff, may significantly improve the quality of life as well as increase and/or maintains the independence of seniors.

By simply placing a tactile marking on your appliances, you now feel more confident knowing your settings are accurate.

Many of our clients have benefited from utilizing other available resources including:
• Talking Books
• Tactile marking on appliances
• Radio Reading Service
• Free Directory Assistance and Dial Operator Privileges
• Handicapped Parking Permits
• Large Print utility bills

For more information on these and other services, please call 716-882-1025

Senior Vision Services receives funding from the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.

MEN’S & WOMEN’S SUPPORT GROUPS

The men’s and women’s support groups are designed for adults experiencing vision loss, and focuses on building coping skills and gaining support for adjusting to vision loss. The groups are facilitated by licensed social workers, and meet for one hour per week for twelve weeks once or twice per year depending on interest and referrals. There are options to participate in person or remotely by phone.

  • Groups typically run in spring and fall
  • 12 weekly sessions
  • Time: 2 pm to 3:30 pm
  • VIA Main Campus 1170 Main Street Buffalo, NY 14209
  • For more information call 716-882-1025

PEER SUPPORT GROUP
Peer-lead, social support group for individuals with visual impairments. Provides peer support, networking, guest speakers, resources and awareness.
Attendees must provide own transportation.

  • Monthly Meetings
  • Second Thursday of every month
  • Time: 2 pm to 3:30 pm.
  • Independent Living Center  3108 Main Street Buffalo NY 14214

For more information on Peer Group please contact:
Linda Kaminski 716-856-2821
Christopher Hock 716-381-3751