Low vision is a term commonly used among eye care professionals to mean partial sight, or sight that is not fully correctable with surgery, pharmaceuticals, contact lenses, or glasses. Low vision includes moderate vision impairment, such as tunnel vision or blind spots. It also includes legal blindness and almost total blindness.
Low vision has a variety of causes, including eye injury, diseases, and genetics. Sometimes low vision involves a lack of acuity, meaning that objects appear blurred. Other times, it involves a reduced ability to distinguish colors, see contrast, or determine spatial relationships among objects.
The eyesight of a person with low vision may be hazy from cataracts, blurred or partially obscured in the central visual zone because of macular degeneration, or distorted and/or blurred from diabetic retinopathy. Also, people with glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa can lose their peripheral vision and have difficulty seeing at night.
Adults and Employment
Children and adults can be visually impaired, sometimes as a result of a birth defect or an injury, but low vision is mostly a problem that afflicts seniors. Vision loss can be very traumatic, leading to frustration and depression. Many people who develop eye problems that cause low vision lose their jobs. According to Lighthouse International, among visually impaired Americans of ages 21 to 64, only 43.7% are employed. Among normally-sighted people in this age group, 80% are employed.
When a child has severe vision problems, it is very important to visit a low vision doctor who can prescribe the most appropriate vision aids. Ignoring a child's visual needs will result in poor performance in school.
Not being able to drive safely, read quickly, or easily see images on a television or computer screen can cause people with low vision to feel shut off from the world. They may be unable to get around town independently, earn a living, or even shop for food and other necessities. Some visually impaired people become completely dependent on friends and relatives, while others suffer alone. That's a shame, because many ingenious low vision devices and strategies exist to help people overcome vision impairment and live independently.
Knowing the signs and taking action
If you have hazy or blurred vision, light sensitivity, loss of peripheral vision, night blindness, a need for more light than before, color confusion, unusual floaters or spots or difficulty in reading, your first step is to see an eyecare professional such as the optometrists at Visualeyes Optometry for a complete exam.
These could be the first signs of a serious eye disease such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, or retinitis pigmentosa. Or, they could mean you are developing a cataract that needs removal. Whatever the case, it is wise to take action before further vision loss occurs.Our optometrists can evaluate the degree and type of vision loss you have, prescribe appropriate low vision aids such as magnifiers, telescopes and video magnifiers, and help you learn how to use low vision aids. They can also recommend non-optical adaptive devices, such as large-face printed material, audio tapes, special light fixtures and signature guides for signing checks and documents. If appropriate, they can also refer you to a counselor to help you cope with your loss of vision.