Central Vision Loss

The following article addresses various aspects of central vision loss with an overall look at the causes, signs, effects, and available interventions for people living with reduced central vision.

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How Does Low Vision Affect Central Vision?

One of the more common forms of visual impairment affects central vision, which is responsible for detecting shapes and fine details.A loss or diminishment of central vision creates reliance on one's peripheral vision, which lacks the ability to discern detail, but is essential for mobility. As a result of this visual deficiency, everyday activities and daily living become difficult. 

In the earliest onset of this form of visual impairment, the central part of people’s vision may appear blurry or appear to be missing details. This makes activities such as reading or using a computer or cell phone difficult or impossible without help. As the condition worsens, these deficits will appear as blank or blind spots. For example, this may manifest as an inability to see a friend’s face up close as a result of this impairment, while retaining the ability to see the rest of the person

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Causes of Central Vision Loss

There are various causes of central vision loss involving degenerative eye disorders, however, the primary cause is usually as a result of damage to the macula section of the retina, which is responsible for our ability to discern detail.

  • Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): This is a primary cause of central vision loss that occurs as people age, where macular erosion leads to visual deficits in either one or both eyes. 
  • Inoperable cataracts: Central vision loss from inoperable cataracts require low vision interventions, unlike other types of cataracts that can be corrected surgically.
  • Glaucoma: An ocular condition that can lead to blindness, caused by the pressure of fluid build-up. 
  • Diabetic retinopathy: A degenerative eye disorder caused by diabetes that affects the retina.



Additional factors affecting the macula that can cause central vision loss include the following conditions. A healthy macula is flat so distortions in shape or contour such as wrinkling, erosion, or swelling may cause central vision loss.

  • Macular pucker: A form of wrinkling of the macula.
  • Macular hole: An erosional hole or tear in the macula.
  • Macular edema: In this form of macular degeneration, swelling from leakage of blood vessels causes central vision loss. 

It is important to note that it is equally important to attend to these conditions before they degenerate and affect other aspects of vision and overall health. In the case of diabetic retinopathy and other diabetic conditions, attending to those conditions will benefit overall health.

As with many ocular conditions, the signs are not always apparent. Early detection is critical so that treatments and interventions can slow its progression. Always speak with an optometrist to determine how frequently you should schedule eye exams. Depending on your health and family history, you may require more routine exams. Possible signs of vision loss should be attended to right away. Contact our low vision optometrist if you have reason to believe that you are experiencing central vision loss.
Warning signs include:

  • Difficulty in discerning details or faces
  • Difficulty with shapes
  • Blurred vision
  • A blind spot or blank spots
  • Medical conditions or medications that are know to cause central vision loss
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Testing and Treatment

A low vision optometrist is trained to assess ocular health for signs of central vision loss. A popular test low vision optometrists use to assess for central vision loss is the Amsler Grid exam where straight lines appear wavy to those with central vision loss.

Although low vision is irreversible, vision aids and rehabilitation can help maximize remaining vision and improve the overall quality of life. Central vision loss is often treated with optical and non-optical devices, prisms, medication, assistive technologies, and vision rehabilitation.


Caring for Central Vision Loss

Early detection, diagnosis, and treatment are essential for preventing the condition that causes central vision loss from advancing. Ocular complications are difficult to detect so routine examinations are required to monitor overall eye health. Central vision is responsible for detecting shapes and fine details. As a result of this deficiency, daily living becomes difficult. People with central vision loss will have difficulty reading, using the computer or phone, and discerning faces. If you suspect that you or someone you know has central vision loss, contact our low vision optometrist to schedule an examination.

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Common Questions

Losing central vision means losing the ability to see objects directly in front of you clearly. This part of vision is essential for detailed tasks like reading, recognizing faces, or driving. A loss in central vision can create a blurry or dark spot in the center of one's visual field. Consulting with a low vision optometrist is often crucial, as they can conduct a thorough low vision exam to understand the underlying cause and recommend suitable aids or interventions.
Central vision loss affects the ability to see objects straight ahead and is essential for detailed tasks. Peripheral vision loss, on the other hand, affects the ability to see objects at the side or edge of the visual field, often impacting mobility and spatial awareness. Both types of vision loss can significantly impair daily functioning, but they require different adaptations and treatments, often guided by a low vision eye doctor.
Without central vision, individuals still retain their peripheral vision, which allows them to see objects to the side. However, tasks that require detail, such as reading or recognizing faces, can become extremely challenging. Specialized tools and strategies guided by a low vision optometrist can help in adapting to this significant change in vision.
Driving with central vision loss is often challenging and may not be legal, depending on the jurisdiction and the severity of the impairment. A comprehensive low vision exam with a low vision eye doctor will help determine the extent of vision loss and whether adaptive devices like bioptic telescopes might make driving possible. However, in many cases, alternative transportation methods may be necessary.
The impacts of central vision loss can be profound, affecting daily activities that rely on detailed vision such as reading, writing, cooking, or recognizing faces. Emotional and psychological effects may also occur, as independence and hobbies may be compromised. Working closely with a low vision optometrist can provide tools, strategies, and support to mitigate these impacts, helping individuals adapt to their new visual reality.
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Central Vision Loss

The following article addresses various aspects of central vision loss with an overall look at the causes, signs, effects, and available interventions for people living with reduced central vision.

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