Low vision is a medical condition for types of visual impairment where conventional corrective measures such as regular glasses, contact lenses, and surgical or medical treatment cannot adequately correct the deficit. It often presents with the following:
loss in visual acuity or "sharpness"
visual field loss
problems with light sensitivity or perception
central vision loss
loss of peripheral vision which creates a "tunnel vision" effect
Low vision is the result of partial but irreversible visual impairment. A diagnosis does not mean that you are blind. It just means that you have problems that cannot be corrected with conventional interventions, and that you may require vision devices and training to enhance your remaining eyesight. In most instances, a person retains some degree of vision that usually responds well to specialty glasses or other vision aid.
We are here to help you!
Many people with this condition are told by eyecare professionals that there is nothing that can be done to help them. As optometrists with years of experience, we know this isn’t so!
We specialize in low vision care and offer an array of specialty devices and aids such as bioptic telescopes, magnifiers, and non-optical devices that can be used to improve your ability to engage in routine and recreational activities. These include such activities as watching television, reading newspapers, and recognizing people’s faces. Some people are even able to drive!
The important thing to know is that with proper and timely intervention most people are able to enjoy a high quality of life, and to continue to participate in their favorite activities.
Looking Through the Eyes of a Low Vision Patient
Although visual impairment and its impact on daily life varies depending on the condition and how it developed, the pictures below provide good examples of how certain deficits often manifest. (pictures here)
What Causes Low Vision?
There are a variety of diseases, disorders, and types of eye injury affecting the optic nerve that may cause impairment and a diagnosis of low vision. These include types of acute and traumatic brain injury. Medical conditions that are known to cause this condition include age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, corneal diseases, optic nerve atrophy, and strokes. Age-related macular degeneration accounts for almost 45 percent of such cases.
Early Detection and Treatment
Most eye conditions and diseases have no early symptoms. And in the case of low vision, standard corrective measures such as contact lenses, specialty glasses, optical and non-optical aids, and surgery don't work. This is why we recommend yearly eye exams with an optometrist, particularly if you have a family history of eye disease. If low vision is detected early enough we can often minimize vision loss.
If you have been told by an optometrist that you have low vision or suspect that you may have this condition, contact us to schedule an eye evaluation, and to discuss the use of different vision aids and devices to improve your quality of life.