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Low Vision


Low vision is a condition involving reduced or partial sight and cannot usually be corrected with conventional remedies like glasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery. Effects like tunnel vision, blind spots, and even legal blindness can be minimized, however, with a variety of low vision aids, devices, and products.

Low Vision Causes

Low vision can result from eye injuries, eye diseases, and hereditary conditions. Cataracts, for instance, often result in hazy or blurred sight, while macular degeneration can produce a blurry or obscured view in the center of the field of vision. Macular degeneration involves a gradual erosion of the retina’s ability to produce the crisp, clear straight-ahead view required for driving or reading. In addition, peripheral and night vision may be affected by glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited condition that gradually narrows the field of sight, producing tunnel vision.

Low Vision Symptoms

Typical symptoms of low vision include hazy or blurry sight, blind spots, difficulty focusing, reduced peripheral or night vision, and a shrinking of the field of vision from the edges toward the center (i.e., tunnel vision). Patients suffering from this condition may also experience noticeable difficulty reading, driving, watching television, or working on a computer screen.

Low Vision Diagnosis

Low vision can affect a person’s ability to function in the world and in some cases may degenerate into legal or total blindness. Anyone suffering from symptoms associated with this condition should therefore arrange a meeting with a qualified ophthalmologist as soon as possible. After conducting a thorough eye examination to determine the type and degree of low vision involved, the ophthalmologist will be able to recommend an appropriate course of treatment, including a variety of effective low vision aids. Fortunately, many low vision products and devices are available to help.

Low Vision Treatment

Occasionally, surgery may improve low vision – for example, if cataracts turn out to be the cause. Most commonly, however, the condition cannot be resolved with common remedies like glasses, contact lenses, medication, or optical surgery. In the majority of cases where sight is unnaturally low, vision aids including products and devices such as magnifiers, telescopes, large-print reading materials, audio books, and specially designed lights provide the only viable solution. Fortunately, such aids can make coping with this condition dramatically easier and less frustrating.

Low Vision Reading Devices

Although generally not as convenient as conventional reading glasses, a variety of low vision magnifying devices exist that can make reading at home or at work much easier. For less severe low vision, high-power reading glasses are available. In more serious cases, small telescopes that can be held or mounted on glasses may prove helpful. Truly substantial magnification can also be achieved with video magnifiers, which project reading material onto a television or computer screen or even directly onto specially designed glasses.

In addition to these low vision magnifying products, many non-optical vision aids allow patients to avoid common reading difficulties. These include large-print books and playing cards; clocks, telephones, and watches with enlarged numbers; and speaking clocks, timers, and thermometers that are heard rather than read. Often less expensive than optical magnifying devices, these and other products can make a dramatic difference in patients’ daily lives.

Low Vision Computer Aids

In addition to the low vision magnifying devices that facilitate general reading, special software can make using computers much easier. According to individuals’ preferences, all text appearing on the screen can be enlarged or the computer can read the text aloud. Conveniently, navigation items (e.g., the buttons you click to navigate the internet or a website) and the location of the computer mouse are also described by these “speaking” computers.

Low Vision Products for Outdoor Use

Outside, glare produced by lights can interfere with how well partially sighted people are able to get around. To control its effects, doctors may recommend or prescribe special lenses designed to reduce glare and block certain kinds of light that are problematic. These may be worn as prescription sunglasses or as nonprescription clip-on lenses. To increase distance vision outside, low vision aids like small portable telescopes, magnifying glasses, and binoculars can help in certain situations. Depending on the conditions involved, these low vision aids can be handheld or mounted on conventional glasses.

Talk to an Eye Doctor in Your Area about Low Vision Treatment

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with low vision, it is important to have a thorough eye examination as soon as possible. Since the condition may be degenerative, determining the best way to control its effects is the key to managing future vision loss. Fortunately, a variety of helpful low vision aids, devices, and products are available. Use DocShop to find an ophthalmologist specializing in low vision today.

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