Low vision refers to significant vision impairment that usually results from serious eye disease or an injury. However, it isn't blindness as limited sight remains. The vision loss can't be fully corrected with glasses, contact lenses, medication or surgery.
Low vision can affect both children and older individuals but is more common in the elderly, who are at greater risk of sight-robbing eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts.
Low vision causes
Leading causes of low vision include genetics, eye injury, brain injury, or eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or retinitis pigmentosa. Depending on the severity and type of vision impairment, the patient may have some remaining vision.
Low vision tends to be common in adults over age 75.
Below are the most common types of low vision:
- Central vision loss: a blind spot in the center of vision.
- Peripheral (side) vision loss: inability to see to the side, above below eye level, but perfect ability to see straight ahead.
- Night blindness: struggling to see in poorly lit or dim environments such as evening or nighttime.
- Blurry vision: when objects appear out of focus.
- Hazy vision: feeling like you're looking at everything through a fog or a haze
How does low vision affect daily life?
For people with significant vision loss, completing daily tasks including reading, writing, cooking, and housework, watching television, driving, or even recognizing people can become a struggle.
Once one is diagnosed with low vision, it can come as a shock. Because low vision often results in one’s inability to work, function independently, drive and resume normal life, many patients feel isolated and depressed. Fortunately, there are numerous resources, aids and devices available to help maximize any remaining vision.
If you or someone you know is struggling with low vision, contact Midwest Eye Associates in St. Charles today. We can help.
Visual rehabilitation and visual aids
Vision loss ranges from mild visual impairment to legal blindness. Certain optometrists can evaluate your condition and offer an individualized rehabilitation plan to help you maximize remaining functional vision and increase independence in daily living.
What are visual aids?
Low-vision aids are designed to improve visual performance in those with low vision thus enriching daily experiences. Low vision aids are typically characterized into three main categories: non-optical, optical, and electronic.
Non-optical aids: are external adaptations that render daily tasks easier to undertake. These include large-print books, glare-proof sunglasses, and tactile dots.
Optical aids: Specialized lenses, such as telescopes and stand magnifiers, can enhance vision.
Electronic aids: this includes a range of technologies, such as closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs), screen readers, and head mounted eyewear displays, and more.
How to make life with low vision easier
- Ensure that you have adequate lighting in your home. This may require some trial and error with different lights to determine what works best for you.
- Use a magnifier. There is a vast selection of magnifiers available, ranging from hand-held to stand magnifiers. Binoculars and spectacle-mounted magnifiers are also an option.
- Your optometrist or low vision specialist can recommend specialized lens tints for certain conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa or cataracts, which enhance vision or reduce light sensitivity.
- Use large print books for reading. Alternatively, try digital recordings or mp3's.
- Make use of high contrast for writing. Try writing in large letters with a broad black pen on a white piece of paper or board.
- Adding a high-contrast stripe on steps (bright color on dark staircase, or black stripe on light stairs) can help prevent falls in people with low vision, and may enable them to remain independent in their home.
- Discover new and innovative technologies that can help you see better.
If you or a loved one has low vision, don’t despair. Consult with our eye doctor in St. Charles regarding the best course of action to take to simplify your life.