Purpose: Low vision rehabilitation research is a quickly growing area, due in part to the increase in the demand for services geared at older adults with age-related vision loss. Various professions collaborate to provide such rehabilitation services; however, it is currently unclear which profession takes the leading role in advancing the frontiers of low vision rehabilitation research. A recent review article proposed that in Canada, this role is held by physicians. The present study was conducted to replicate these findings under conditions of a systematic review.
Method: A search of seven databases and a hand-search of four vision rehabilitation journals identified articles on low vision rehabilitation whose first author had an affiliation at a Canadian institution. Data on professional credentials, funding source, and study content was tabulated.
Results: Of the 1,870 references, data from 215 eligible articles were extracted. The top four author credentials were optometrists (with or without PhD; 56 papers, 26.0%), followed by researchers with PhDs only (48 papers, 22.3%), researchers with master’s degrees (43 papers, 20.0%), and medical doctors (with or without PhD; 39 papers, 18.1%). Vision rehabilitation journals published 38 per cent of all papers, followed by ophthalmology (27%) and optometry journals (22%). Publications in the past 11 years amounted to over 50 per cent of the output over the 64-year publication history in this field in Canada, 70 percent of which were based in universities.
Conclusion: The results reflect the mosaic structure of low vision rehabilitation research in Canada, highlighting collaborations among researchers, clinicians, funding sources and rehabilitation agencies. Given its multidisciplinary nature, low vision rehabilitation research seems to be driven by collaboration among the professions.