Common Symptoms of Low Vision

The following article discusses various symptoms of the medical condition known as Low Vision, which refers to irreversible visual deficits which cannot be corrected with standard methods.

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Low Vision

This is a medical term for irreversible eye complications affecting visual acuity and/or visual field. With these deficits, conventional interventions such as prescription glasses, contact lenses, corrective surgery, and medical treatments don't work.  Such types of impairment may be congenital, due to injury to the optic nerves, acquired brain injury, or in the majority of instances, the result of a degenerative eye disease. These include Diabetic Retinopathy, Age-related Macular Degeneration, Cataracts, Retinitis Pigmentosa, and Glaucoma. Learn more about low vision.

"Treatment" isn't treatment in the sense that the deficits will go away. It involves judicious use of visual aids and devices along with rehabilitation therapy to maximize remaining eyesight and enable people to live productive, active, and meaningful lives.

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Common Symptoms

There are many symptoms of this condition. These include the following impairments (in part or in total):

  • Blurriness: This impairment involves the eye's inability to focus causing blurred images. This occurs regardless of the object's distance. In such instances, watching TV would be difficult regardless of how close or far you sat from the screen.
  • Central vision loss: This loss forms a blind spot in your central field forcing reliance on peripheral eyesight. Central vision is responsible for the sharpness and detail of our eyesight and it is critical for seeing colors and detecting shapes. Such a deficit makes it difficult to recognize faces.
  • Contrast difficulty: This is a problem relating to the overall quality of one's eyesight. Images may appear hazy or cloudy.
  • Depth Perception difficulty: These problems involve difficulties in perceiving the relation of space, both of the person himself and with the surrounding area and objects. Climbing a ladder or accepting change from the outstretched hand of a cashier would present difficulties for a person with this deficit. Learn more about depth perception.
  • Light/glare: Many people experience discomfort and even pain when looking at strong lighting, or the glare that is emitted from such lighting. Proper lighting for such people provides good illumination without straining or stressing the eyes.
  • Night blindness: This deficit manifests as difficulty or an inability to see during the night, or in situations of low levels of light such as a darkened theatre, hallway, or low-lit restaurant. Also known as night blindness.
  • Peripheral vision loss: This deficit creates a tunnel effect akin to looking through a narrow tube. Peripheral eyesight is important for mobility and in detecting movement. Loss of this peripheral faculty can affect the ability to play physical sports or to safely drive a motor vehicle.
Interventions for Low Vision

Interventions for Low Vision

Interventions include the use of optical and non-optical devices, such as a wide variety of specialized telescopes, binoculars, prisms, specialty glasses, magnifiers, assistive technologies, and rehabilitation therapy. Rehabilitation therapy is a holistic approach incorporating different methods and procedures to learn new skills and maximize remaining eyesight.

What Interventions Are Available?

What Interventions Are Available?

One misconception is the idea that there is nothing that can be done to help people with these deficits. It's difficult enough for people with these optical deficits to process their diagnosis when they first learn of it. What can be more upsetting than hearing from a professional that there is NO hope?

The good news is that they are wrong. Regardless of the deficit, there are many effective interventions to maximize remaining eyesight and to improve a patient's quality of life. Many patients can attest to this. Thanks to advances in medical technology and research, people lead active, fulfilling lives today, including the resumption of many activities they thought were no longer feasible.

Low vision optometrists specialize in all aspects of evaluating, detecting, and implementing measures for people with this disorder. This includes the challenges of the deficiencies themselves as well as the emotional aspects of living with this condition. With a proper plan, there are a wide variety of devices, technologies, and rehabilitation programs that have given people renewed confidence in their ability to enjoy life and participate in routine activities, as well as many favored recreational activities.

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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 central vision deficiency. Learn more about central vision loss.

Peripheral Vision Loss

The following article addresses general issues of peripheral (side) vision) loss, with a look at the causes, signs, and interventions to maximize remaining vision and improve the quality of life for those living with this impairment. Learn more about peripheral vision loss.

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Common Questions

The three most common causes of low vision are Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), which affects central vision; Glaucoma, which damages the optic nerve leading to peripheral vision loss; and Diabetic Retinopathy, where blood vessels in the retina are affected, leading to varying vision impairments. Early diagnosis and management by a low vision eye doctor through a comprehensive low vision exam can help in minimizing the impact of these conditions on daily life.
Low vision refers to visual impairment that cannot be fully corrected with standard glasses or medical interventions but still allows some usable vision. Blindness, on the other hand, signifies a complete or nearly complete loss of vision. The assistance of a low vision optometrist can provide adaptive strategies and devices for those with low vision to enhance remaining vision.
Depth perception issues often arise from a lack of proper binocular vision, where the eyes don't work together correctly. Glasses can sometimes correct this by aligning the eyes or correcting refractive errors. A thorough examination by a low vision optometrist or eye specialist can determine the underlying cause of depth perception issues and whether glasses or other interventions would be an appropriate solution.
Lack of depth perception can be considered a disability, depending on the severity and impact on daily functioning. It may affect tasks such as driving, sports, or even simple activities like pouring a drink. If depth perception issues are hindering daily life, an eye exam by an experienced optometrist can assess the situation and provide customized solutions, such as special glasses or therapy, to help overcome or mitigate the challenges.
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Common Symptoms of Low Vision

The following article discusses various symptoms of the medical condition known as low vision, which refers to irreversible visual deficits which cannot be corrected with standard methods.

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