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Low Vision Information

Low vision is vision loss that can't be corrected with glasses, contacts or surgery. It isn't blindness as limited sight remains. Low vision can include blind spots, poor night vision and blurry sight. The most common causes are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetes. Visual aids can help people with low vision.


What is the definition of low vision?

Low vision is the loss of sight that is not correctible with prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery. This type of vision loss does not include complete blindness, because there is still some sight and it can sometimes be improved with the use of visual aids.

Low vision includes different degrees of sight loss, from blind spots, poor night vision and problems with glare to an almost complete loss of sight.It can be defined with two categories:

  • "Partially sighted": the person has visual acuity between 20/70 and 20/200 with conventional prescription lenses.

  • "Legally blind": the person has visual acuity no better than 20/200 with conventional correction and/or a restricted field of vision less than 20 degrees wide.

The ratio measurement of vision describes visual acuity, or the sharpness of vision, at 20 feet from an object. For example, having 20/70 vision means that you must be at 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 70 feet.

Can low vision be treated?

Some sight disorders, like diabetic retinopathy, can be treated to restore or maintain vision. When this is not possible, low vision is permanent. However, many people with low vision find visual aids helpful. Popular low vision aids include:

  • Telescopic glasses.

  • Lenses that filter light.

  • Magnifying glasses.

  • Hand magnifiers.

  • Closed-circuit television.

  • Reading prisms.

Some popular non-optical devices include:

  • Text reading software.

  • Check guides.

  • High contrast clocks and watches.

  • Talking watches and clocks.

  • Large print publications.

  • Clocks, phones and watches with enlarged numbers.

Visual aids improve both sight and the quality of life for many people so speak to your doctor about the possibilities of visual aids.

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