What is Low Vision? – Freedom Scientific
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What is Low Vision?

What is Low Vision? Low vision is vision loss that cannot be corrected with glasses, contacts, surgery, or medication. The National Eye Institute (NEI) describes low vision as “the best-corrected visual acuity less than 20/40 in the better-seeing eye.” That means that the vision in the better-seeing eye with the strongest correction possible is worse than 20/40.

What causes Low Vision?

Vision loss is normal to some degree, especially as people age. The NEI estimates that more than 3 million American adults over the age of 40 have some sort of vision loss. This can be caused by medical conditions such as Cataracts, Glaucoma, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Diabetic Retinopathy, or Macular Degeneration.

What are the symptoms of Low Vision?

Low Vision symptoms can vary depending on the eye condition. Some people may have blurriness in their central vision or in their peripheral vision and others have difficulty seeing shapes at a close distance or recognizing faces.

While wearing corrective lenses, do you have difficulty:

  • Doing tasks that require you to see things up close such as reading, sewing, cooking?
  • Doing things around the house or office because the lighting seems dimmer than before?
  • Recognizing the faces of people you know?
  • Reading street signs or directions?

If any of these apply to you, you should consult an eye care professional such as an ophthalmologist (MD/OD) or an optometrist (OD) who can diagnose and treat vision issues. Many eye conditions, if caught early enough, can be controlled and damage limited, which is why annual eye exams are essential.

Living Independently with Low Vision

Millions of Americans experience low vision and there are many organizations, professionals, and resources available to you. There are also tools available such as task lighting, large print telephones, optical magnifiers, and magnifying mirrors. Computer screen magnification software, like ZoomText, enlarges everything on a computer screen, making it easier to navigate documents, web pages, and email. There is also a large selection of electronic devices that can help you maintain your independence. Video magnifiers provide electronic magnification, color contrast, and lighting to help with reading books, mail, writing checks, and more. They are available in small portable models like the Ruby handheld magnifiers that you can take to restaurants, the store, or for reading smaller items like medicine labels. Larger magnifiers like the Topaz desktop series sit on a desk or table and provide a wide field of view for tasks such as reading a book, newspaper, or magazine. The key is to find the right device to fit your needs and eye condition.