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The term "low vision" is used to describe visual impairment that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, medications, or surgery. Low vision describes loss of best-corrected visual acuity to a level worse than 20/60 in the better eye, visual field loss and blindness.
Low vision can be caused by a variety of conditions, including eye injury, diseases and family history. There are many forms of low vision depending on the cause as well. For example, those with glaucoma can lose peripheral vision or have trouble seeing at night while people with diabetic retinopathy may experience distorted and/or blurred vision in their central field.
Adults and seniors are most commonly affected by low vision. However, children can be afflicted as well, usually as a result of a birth defect or an injury. Vision loss can be a traumatic change and lead to frustration or depression. Many who are living with low vision feel shut out from the world as they may no longer be able to drive safely, read quickly, or even view television and computer screens properly as they once did.
It is important to have an eye exam regularly. If you are experiencing vision impairment that has made it difficult to perform everyday activities, it is important that you make an appointment with your eye doctor immediately.
If you eye doctor determines that your vision loss cannot be correct by eyewear, medication or surgery, then you may be referred to a low vision specialist. The specialist can evaluate the type of vision loss you have and prescribe special low vision products to help you with certain tasks such as reading and other everyday tasks.
The specialist may prescribe what are called low vision aids. These aids can help with a variety of activities including reading and watching videos. Strong glasses and reading telescopes can be used to magnify print to make it easier to read.
Low vision magnifiers can help computer users who have experienced vision loss. These enhancements can include similar devices used for reading, but there are also special software designed to display larger print or read text aloud for those with vision impairment.
For more information on low vision, visit AllAboutVision.com's Consumer Guide to Low Vision.