Low vision is the term used to describe significant visual impairment that can’t be corrected fully with glasses, contact lenses, medication or eye surgery.
Causes Of Low Vision
Eye diseases are a common cause of low vision.
- Hazy, blurry vision can result from cataracts.
- Blurred or partially obscured central vision is typical of macular degeneration.
- Diabetic retinopathy causes blind spots, blurriness and visual distortions.
- Poor peripheral vision is a hallmark of glaucoma.
- Retinitis pigmentosa reduces peripheral vision and the ability to see in the dark.
- Light sensitivity and loss of contrast are other symptoms of these and other diseases.
- Heredity and eye injuries can result in low vision.
Vision loss in adults and seniors can be particularly traumatic, leading to frustration and depression. Losing the ability to drive safely, read quickly, watch television or view a computer screen can cause people with low vision to feel shut off from the world. They may be unable to get around town independently or shop for food and other necessities.
Many people with low vision also have difficulty making a living. Some visually impaired people become very dependent on friends and relatives, while others suffer alone. That’s a shame, because many ingenious low vision devices are available to help people overcome vision impairment and live independently.
What To Do About Low Vision
If you have a vision impairment that interferes with your ability to perform everyday activities and enjoy life, your first step is to see an eye care professional for a complete eye exam.
Poor vision that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses could be the first sign of a serious eye disease such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa. Or it could mean you are developing a cataract that needs removal. Whatever the case, it’s wise to take action before further vision loss occurs.
If your optician finds that you have vision loss that cannot be corrected adequately with standard eyewear, medical treatment or surgery, he or she will help you take the next steps toward coping with your new situation.
An eye specialist who doesn’t work in the low vision arena would refer you to a low vision specialist. A low vision specialist can evaluate the degree and type of vision loss you have, prescribe appropriate low vision aids such as lighted handheld magnifiers, digital desktop magnifiers and bioptic telescopes, and help you learn how to use them.
Newer options include handheld digital magnifiers for shopping or eating out, as well as software that simplifies computer use with magnification and text-to-speech features.
The low vision specialist also can recommend non-optical adaptive devices, such as large-face printed material, audio recordings, special light fixtures and signature guides for signing checks and documents. Special eyewear with tinted UV filters can help with light sensitivity and heighten contrast.
If necessary, your specialist or eye doctor also can refer you to a mental health professional and/or mobility coach to help you cope with your vision loss.
We’ll continue with this theme, next week so be sure to look out for the next post
Very important: Always make sure you discuss and make decisions about your eye care based upon a formal appointment with your optician.
For more information and to book and eye examination please contact us:
McKenna & Scott Pinelands
Tel: 021 531 1953