Low Vision

What is meant by low vision?

When someone has low vision, it means that even with corrective lenses and contacts or despite interventions such as medications or surgery, they still experience poor vision.  Everyday tasks such as reading, shopping, watching television or using the computer is challenging. Individuals with low vision may have partial sight, tunnel vision or blind spots. Low vision is a result of diseases of the eye, health conditions or injury. The condition is generally irreversible but it can be managed and often slowed with early diagnosis and management.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can develop low vision, but it is more prevalent in aging populations.  Some of the leading causes of visual impairments are those conditions common to individuals over the age of 50. That includes age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinal damage caused by diabetes or other disease conditions, glaucoma and cataracts.  Strokes can also result in low vision.

The risk of developing low vision is greater when other health conditions are not diagnosed early.  Regular visits with an eyecare professional may to reduce the risk of acquiring low vision as we age.

Symptoms of low vision

These are some of the symptoms of low vision that people may experience despite wearing glasses:

  • Difficulty recognizing faces of familiar people
  • Difficulty reading a book or doing crafts and hobbies
  • Difficulty choosing matching clothes due to changes in colour vision
  • Difficulty reading traffic signs and other outdoor signage
  • Necessity of turning lights on to see more clearly/lights seem dimmer than usual
Diagnosis and treatment

With regular eye checkups, your eyecare professional can establish a baseline so any changes in your vision or eye health can be detected early.  Visual testing and comprehensive eye examinations will discover potential vision problems.  If eye disease is ruled out and low vision is the diagnosis, proper management will ensure you retain a certain quality of life. Because low vision can’t be treated, there are many adaptations, specialized optical systems and magnification techniques that can help individuals manage with low vision.

If you are concerned about your vision and the health of your eyes, make sure to book regular visits with an Optometrist.