Who Needs Low Vision Care?

This article describes the type of person who may benefit from low vision care, with a look at the causes of the condition, different ways that it presents, and types of interventions and vision care to improve daily life and enable the person to engage in different activities. We are committed to helping low vision patients regain visual activity and independence.

What Is Low Vision?

Low vision is a problem that can significantly affect the daily activities of adults and children; it can make it difficult to read newspapers, watch television, drive a car, use a cell phone, and enjoy many other activities. In some cases, low vision can be a sign of a serious medical condition and lead to blindness. 

If you experience sudden vision loss or decreased visual acuity that interferes with your daily activities, a visit to our low vision optometrist is strongly recommended for an assessment of your low vision glasses, and how additional visual aid devices may be utilized to enable you to perform tasks that have become difficult.

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What Conditions Can be Low Vision?

There are a variety of conditions that can cause low vision. It is usually the result of damage to one or more of the structures in the eye that is caused by an injury or medical condition. It can also result from neurological conditions, such as strokes and Parkinson's disease. People with the following conditions are at higher risk for developing low vision. 

  • Retinal damage from Hypertension
  • Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Eye tumors
  • Brain tumors
  • Brain or eye injuries
  • Retinitis pigmentosa
  • juvenile retinoschisis
  • ocular albinism
  • Charles Bonnet syndrome
  • History of stroke

Types of Low Vision

There are three types of low vision:

  • Low Central Vision (difficulty seeing objects within the central field of vision)
  • Low Peripheral Vision (difficulty seeing objects from the sides of the eyes)
  • Night Blindness (difficulty seeing objects only at night or in low light situations)

Symptoms of low vision

Low vision can affect both adults and children.  It is most commonly associated with age. For example 40% or more of low vision is from Age Related macular degeneration (key part is the age related as it impacts elderly).

People with visual impairments usually report one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty seeing details
  • Blurred or hazy vision
  • Tunnel vision
  • Poor depth perception 
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Body posture problems
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue when reading
  • Change to decreased ability to read, use a computer etc. 
  • Double vision
Types of Low Vision
Treating Low Vision

Treating Low Vision

Differential Diagnoses

Two doctors are needed to accurately treat patients with low vision.  The first physician to whom patients with low vision are sent is an ophthalmologist. This doctor treats underlying conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma, and administers shots or drops as necessary. Thereafter, patients are seen by a low vision optometrist for follow up. This ophthalmologist and low vision optometrist’s care is needed in order to monitor the conditions for which the patient is being seen, maximize remaining vision for functional purposes, and help them retain and maintain their vision. 

Before treatment begins, several factors must be considered when low vision is observed. For example, problems with visual function that make it difficult to perform daily activities or interfere with your work, education, or independent living (driving, shopping, walking, shoppin) should be assessed by our low vision optometrist as soon as possible.  Additionally, if your low vision cannot be corrected with conventional corrective devices, such as eyeglasses or contact lenses, you may be dealing with a more severe eye problem. 

In the elderly, low vision may indicate the presence of a cataract that needs to be surgically removed. Other conditions that may be present include diabetes, hypertension, or age-related macular degeneration. In children however, low vision may indicate a congenital malformation, glaucoma, or eye and brain tumor.


Treating Low Vision


If a patient’s low vision cannot be corrected medically or surgically, your doctor can refer you to our low vision optometrist for further treatment. It is important to keep in mind that there are multiple vision aids that can be prescribed that are known to enhance visual rehabilitation. These products can help you perform your daily activities as well as improve your overall quality of life.

Visual devices such as lighted handheld magnifiers, digital desktop magnifiers, and bioptic telescopes, custom magnifying glasses, and prisms, have proven helpful as a reading aid. Other non-optical products, such as audio recordings and speech command software, can also enhance one’s visual experience by greatly decreasing dependence on vision.  Other chronic symptoms of low vision, such as light sensitivity and color contrast difficulties, can be further treated through the use of eyewear with a UV filter and special tints.

Who is at Greatest Risk for Low Vision?

Low vision can affect virtually anyone at any age, though it is most common in the elderly. This is due to the fact that eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration typically occur within this demographic and can lead to a variety of visual impairment.

How is Low Vision Diagnosed?

An eye examination by a low vision optometrist includes distance testing with a vision chart and other visual acuity measurement devices that can diagnose low vision. Other tests that are used to measure low vision include lighting techniques, magnifiers, and special charts that test visual acuity, depth perception, and visual field.

Types of Low Vision
Dr. McBryar cartoon

Low Vision Care

Interventions for low vision depend mainly on the conditions that cause it. Low vision optometrists can prescribe custom eyeglasses or low vision devices to help you achieve the best visual acuity possible. If additional support is needed, a low vision optometrist can also provide you with appropriate low vision aids and devices. If other medical conditions affect your vision, an ophthalmologist can prescribe the appropriate medical intervention so that you can see now and hopefully, for many years ahead. 

Related Articles


Vision therapy is well worth the response, time and effort. Our Son had a hard time focusing and writing neatly. After vision therapy Seth could complete a task in half the time if previously took. His abilities to focus improved greatly and so did his handwriting.

Also, he was better at listening. As a parent, we wanted learning to be fun for our Son, and vision therapy made this possible.

Amanda T.

Vision Therapy is well worth the expense, time and effort. Our son had a hard time focusing handwriting neatly. After vision therapy Seth could complete a task in half the time it previously took his abilities to focus and improved greatly and so did his handwriting.

Also, he was better at listening. As a parent you wanted learning to be fun for our son and vision therapy made this possible.

Alexa H.

Vision Therapy has given or son the tools he needs to be able to scan and read the written word more effectively and efficiently.

He love working with John and these working sessions give him the motivation to gladly work on his homework assignments.

It amazed us to see the difference in the tracking of his eyes and along a line of it's from the beginning to the end of the treatment.

Dr. McBryar , Kristen and John  are all marvelous and we would recommend them to anyone I only wish that we would have found them sooner!

Charlotte M.

Prior to coming to the institute for vision development my son complained of daily headaches. Therapy has eliminated his headaches completely. I love knowing my son is able to learn pain-free for the rest of his life because of the work that has been done over just a few weeks in this office. He he absolutely loved coming that didn't even feel like going to a doctor or therapy. We are grateful for the relief he was able to find by coming here.

Thank you!

Olivia C.

Seems much less frustrated with life

Reads non-stop and fast

Spelling abilities have been hugely improved

Seems much more confident

Thank You!!!

Kelly O.

When we first came to the practice, my son did not have huge issues, but lots of small ones- trouble with reading, sports (hitting the baseball consistently), coordination, etc- that were not easily detectable,but when put together presented issues. The staff here were all very professional and loving towards him. While I was concerned in the reading, my son was concerned with the athletic side. Seeing improvement night off the bat gave him confidence that i have nor seen in him and made him want to not only Come to therapy, but also made him want to work hard. He has surpassed his grade level and above in reading and hit his first home run this year! Thank you!!!

Alice M.
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