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GDB Partnership Feature: UCSF Ophthalmology

Thursday September 30, 2021

Five Ophthalmology residents kneel together on the GDB campus with a yellow Lab guide dog in harness.

At Guide Dogs for the Blind, we strive to serve as a leader and partner for enhancing services for individuals with visual impairments, and we advocate for the policy reforms that change how the world views blindness and disability. Because when everyone is empowered to participate, our communities are stronger. Recently, we had the opportunity to host a group of ophthalmology residents from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) on our California campus as part of ongoing partnerships with a number of ophthalmology schools. Our hope is to provide the doctors with a better understanding of both the guide dog lifestyle and the range of rehabilitation opportunities available to patients beyond the diagnosis of blindness.

A diagnosis of legal blindness (which is defined as having vision that is 20/200 or less in your better-seeing eye or less than 20% field of vision) can only come from a licensed ophthalmologist. The way a diagnosis of blindness or visual impairment is given to a patient can have an enormous impact on their outlook on their future; a doctor who does so with empathy, compassion, and understanding of the full and complete lives that a person can live with a diagnosis of blindness or visual impairment is essential.

“We, at Guide Dogs for the Blind, share our invaluable resources with doctors so that they can provide their patients with precious hope when it’s most needed,” says, Rabih Dow, Director of Outreach and Advocacy at GDB. “Hope for a trusted, well-trained, and loyal mobility guide after significant vision loss is a gift of joy and of a joyous celebration of life.”

During their recent visit, the residents learned about the networks of rehabilitation services and resources available to GDB clients, from orientation and mobility training to assistive technology training, and, of course, guide dog mobility. GDB staff provided demonstrations and presentations on the specific training that guide dogs receive and the unique skills that people must have to successfully work with a guide dog.

We are proud to work with community partners like UCSF’s School of Ophthalmology and others to provide hands-on and virtual learning opportunities for their residents, and thank them for sharing our vision for a world with greater inclusion, opportunity, and independence for people who are blind or visually impaired.