What is low vision?
Low vision is the term used for a visual impairment. Low vision is a loss of
eyesight that makes everyday tasks difficult. A person with low vision may find
it difficult to accomplish activities such as reading, writing, shopping, watching
television, and driving a car. Regular medical eye exams by an ophthalmologist
(Eye doctor) are important to diagnose visual impairments, treat those conditions
that can be helped, and begin the process of vision rehabilitation for individuals
with low vision. The doctor will complete an eye exam asking questions about
your medical history and any vision problems you might be experiencing. The
exam will also include a number of tests designed to evaluate your vision.
Your doctor may use a variety of instruments.
The most common types of low vision include loss of central vision, loss of
peripheral (side) vision, night blindness, blurred vision and hazy vision.
Common Vision Disorders:
Cataracts: Over 20 million people in the US alone have cataracts according
to Prevent Blindness America. It appears as a clouding of the lens of the eye.
Glaucoma: Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. With glaucoma,
portions of vision are lost over time, usually with no warning signs or symptoms
prior to vision deterioration. For many, a decrease in peripheral vision is the first
sign of glaucoma.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): AMD is a leading cause of vision
loss among Americans over age 60. It accounts for nearly half of all low vision
cases. There are two types of AMD, wet and dry. Wet AMD is known as advanced
AMD and does not have stages like dry AMD. Dry AMD stages are early,
intermediate and advanced.
Diabetic Retinopathy: According to the National Eye Institute, more than
30 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some form of diabetic
retinopathy. It is a major cause of blindness and is caused by damage to blood
vessels in the back of the eye, which is due to high blood sugar.
There are a variety of devices and tips to assist with managing low vision.
Please review below:
Improve lighting: Use a gooseneck lamp directed onto your task.
Carry a penlight.
Reduce glare: Indoors, cover wood tables and shiny counters; wear yellow
clip-on or fit over glasses. Outdoors, try dark yellow or amber glasses. Visors
can be useful indoors or out.
Increase contrast: Use a black ink gel or felt pen, not a ballpoint. Draw a
dark line where you need to sign.
Increase the size:
Move closer: Try to get front row to watch performance and sit closer to
Enlarge: Many products are available with larger buttons, larger fonts and
print-this includes games/puzzles, computer keyboards, calculators, tv remote
controls, phones, books. Use electronic books, e-book readers and audio books.
Talking watches, clocks, calculators, glucometers, and computers are also helpful.
Magnify: Low vision magnifiers come in many powers and types to meet the
need of your visual needs. Hand-held magnifiers can be used to assist with
reading menus, mail, magazines. There are also video magnifiers that are
Label Important Items: Use a high contrast marker, (can be purchased at
a fabric store) and label medications, knobs, dials making easier to read.
Since 1905, Lighthouse International has led the charge in the fight against
vision loss through prevention, treatment and empowerment. Lighthouse
International offers help, hope and resources– providing people across the
spectrum of vision impairment with the skills and strategies they need to
remain safe, independent and active at every stage of life.
Choice Magazine Listening is a nonprofit organization that provides audio
recordings of memorable articles, stories, interviews, essays and poems
from outstanding current magazines, completely free of charge, to blind,
visually impaired, physically disabled or dyslexic adults.
The American Association of the Deaf-Blind (AADB) is a nonprofit national
consumer organization of, by, and for deaf-blind Americans and their
supporters. They provide a database of state and local organizations and
agencies serving that help deaf-blind persons achieve their maximum potential
through increased independence, productivity, and integration into the community.
Resources for E-books and E-book readers:
U.S. National Library Service: Talking Books Service 800-424-8567