What is Low Vision?

Reduced vision from genetic, disease or injury causes

It is estimated that there are now over 10 million people in the US who have serious visual impairments but who are not blind.

Reduced vision from stroke, head trauma, or brain tumors

Studies show that as many as 50% of individuals have some vision problem after suffering a stroke, head injury, or brain tumor. Special testing and treatment can help manage these frequently challenging vision problems. Often such care can make a profound improvement in the lives of persons with these difficulties.

Low vision is the term used to refer to reduced vision that is not correctable by surgery, medication, eyeglasses or contact lenses. The term “Low Vision” implies that some level of useful vision remains and that the individual may benefit from the use of low vision aids that can maximize the use of their remaining vision to support schooling, career, social activities, and daily life.

While most individuals with low vision develop their condition in their later years, low vision can impact people of all ages due to both genetic and developmental causes. Individuals can be born with or develop reduced vision due to a genetic cause such as Albinism, Nystagmus, Stargardt’s Disease, or Retinitis Pigmentosa for example. Or it can develop later in life from disorders such as macular degeneration, diabetes, glaucoma, or other conditions. It can also be caused by injury, stroke, or brain tumors.

A visual impairment that causes Low Vision will usually reduce either central vision causing difficulty seeing fine detail such as reading, seeing signs, TV, and recognizing faces, or visual field, which may make walking and seeing in low light difficult.

Not all individuals who have low vision are legally blind. Low vision is described as having vision with glasses or contacts (if used) of 20/70 or less in the better-seeing eye. Legal blindness is defined as having either visual acuity with glasses or contacts (if used) of 20/200 or worse or a visual field of 20 degrees diameter or less in the better-seeing eye.

Individuals that are newly diagnosed with a condition that will reduce their vision are understandably most interested to seek treatments to slow or reverse the decline. They should be aware, however, that low vision care services are available that can help support their visual needs while they seek medical treatment.

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