Optical Appliances Competency 4.8

 An understanding of the application of complex low vision aids e.g. spectacle-mounted telescopes, CCTV

Under this section, the group of ‘complex’ low vision aids consist of telescopes and electronic magnification systems, of which CCTV’s are just one type.

As the majority of complex low vision aids are prescribed and dispensed by practitioners based either within the Hospital Eye Service or by practitioners working under contract to the Primary Care trust, it is unlikely that many trainees will have had first hand experience in using or prescribing such devices.  However, you are still advised to have some basic knowledge within this subject area such as:

  • Classification and design – basic optical principals
  • Range of Magnification
  • Use: advantages and disadvantages
  • Patient selection: identification of patients who may benefit
  • Advice and information: suppliers
  • Funding for specialist groups Access to Work (AtW) and Special Educational Needs (SEN)


Telescope design and basic principles is the same for all telescopes, whether spectacle mounted or not.  Although telescopes were covered under Competency 4.3, more detail would be expected under this competency statement, so it is worth brushing up on the theory here.

Patient selection:

  • Astronomical vs. Galilean
  • Distance or near
  • Range of magnification
  • Patient selection and training
  • Spec mounted or hand held
  • Advantages & disadvantages

Basic optical Properties:

  • Afocal vs. Focal
  • Exit pupils, FOV
  • Vergence amplification
  • Effect on magnification with,
    • Patient’s Rx
    • End caps
    • Tube length, variable focus

Electronic Low Vision Systems

Electronic low vision aids encompass CCTVs, video magnifiers and text enlargement software.  It is necessary for you to have a brief knowledge of this type of device as over recent years the huge expansion of this side of the industry means that giving advice and information to patients on this group of aids has become an integral part of all low vision consultations

Within the high street setting, you should be able to give advice and information to anyone considering an electronic system and so be able to point them in the right direction.

Electronic Systems:

  • CCTV’s & video magnifiers
  • Magnification range
  • TV Reader / EEZEE reader
  • Text Enlargement Software
  • Scanners with OCR
  • Speech Synthesis
  • Braille

As electronic low vision systems are often expensive devices, funding may be available for special patient groups such as children in full time education, and employees within the workplace.  You should be able to point patients in the right direction so that they may speak to specialist advisors in either area.

Special Education Needs (SEN)

Access to Work (AtW)

Best Form Evidence

If you have not been involved in prescribing complex low vision aids then it is not expected that you produce any Patient Records for this competency.  However, if you have gained experience in this area, then the Assessor will expect to see some form of evidence to demonstrate this.

Questions, Role Play and Case Scenarios are likely to be the main form of evidence taken.   One tip which would put you in a stronger position is to demonstrate that you have taken the initiative and gone to look at some equipment.  Find out where your local recourse centre is and ask to make a visit.  Alternatively, contact one of the main suppliers (listed in Tiresias home pages) and acquire catalogues.  Most suppliers will be happy to send you information for use in your consulting room.

Useful suppliers:






Unacceptable Evidence

It follows that lack of understanding and knowledge will be the main reasons to fail this competency area.



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