What is Low Vision?

Low vision is different from presbyopia, or near-sightedness, which is the decreased ability to focus on near objects as you age.
Diseases that Cause Low Vision:

  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa
  • Macular Degeneration

Low vision is a term given to a patient whose vision is impaired to the point where traditional glasses, contact lenses, surgical and medical treatment cannot adequately correct the vision. Low vision is often when there is a loss in the sharpness or acuity of vision but may also include visual field loss, light sensitivity or distorted vision. Low vision is the result of partial but irreversible vision loss.

Low vision does not mean you are blind, it just means that your vision does not function normally and special devices and training may be needed to improve your ability to use the vision you do have. Usually a person is left with some vision that responds to special low vision glasses and/or devices.

Helping people with low vision is a specialty service we provide. We have special low vision glasses and devices that can be used to help watch television, read a newspaper, see faces, read a book and for some it is even possible to drive.

How Low Vision Looks

Your vision will vary depending on the illness and the specifics of how it develops, but the pictures below give a few simulations of what can occur.

Shadowed or darkened field of view or loss of peripheral vision.
Commonly caused by Glaucoma

A gradual loss of central vision.
Commonly caused by:
Age Related Macular Degeneration

Areas of blurred or distorted vision.
Commonly caused by:
Age Related Macular Degeneration

Areas of spots and blotches in your vision.
Commonly caused by:
Diabetic Retinopathy

What causes low vision?

Signs of Low Vision Include:

  • Areas of blurred or distorted vision or spots and blotches in your vision.
  • Shadowed or darkened field of view or noticeable loss of peripheral vision.
  • A gradual loss of central vision.
  • Cloudy and blurred vision or exaggerated “halos” around bright lights.
  • Blind spots in your field of view.

Low vision can result from a variety of diseases, disorders, and injuries that affect the eye. Many people with low vision have 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 all cases of low vision.

This is why it is so important to have your yearly eye exams. Most eye diseases have no early symptoms. If the disease is caught early enough we can often minimize the amount of damage to your vision. If you have a family history of eye disease, it is vital you see your eye doctor every year.

If you have been told you have low vision and would like to see the options available to help you, schedule a low vision evaluation