Eye diseases are a common cause of low vision and many eye
diseases have no early symptoms. Regular eye exams are important to check for
early warning signs of serious eye and other health concerns. Between exams, it
is important to let your eye care professional know if you notice any changes
in your vision or if your eye is injured in any way.
There are a wide variety of causes of low vision, including:
Anyone can be affected by low vision because it results from a variety of conditions and injuries. Because of age-related disorders like macular degeneration and glaucoma, low vision is more common in adults over age 45 and even more common in adults over age 75. For example, one in six adults over age 45 has low vision; one in four adults over age 75 has low vision.
The most common types of low vision include:
A thorough eye examination is needed to diagnose causes of low vision. People with low vision may experience the following symptoms:
An eye exam by your eye care specialist can diagnose low vision. You should make an appointment with your eye doctor if your vision difficulties are preventing you from daily activities like travel, cooking, work, and school. The tests the eye doctor will perform include the use of lighting, magnifiers, and special charts to help test visual acuity, depth perception, and visual field.
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:
Some patients with retinitis pigmentosa who have no useful vision may be eligible for the Argus® II retinal prosthesis. This device partially restores vision to patients who have lost their sight. In some patients the restored vision allows for them to independently navigate through doorways, sidewalks, sort light and dark colored laundry, or even read large letters.
Non-optical aids designed for people with low vision are also very helpful. Some popular non-optical devices include:
Visual aids improve both sight and the quality of life for
many people. Talk to your doctor about where to purchase visual aids.
Low vision may be preventable for patients with diabetes, and some patients with macular degeneration and glaucoma may be treated to prevent the further vision loss.