Low vision is the loss of sight that impairs everyday functioning that is not correctable with prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery. 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. The American Optometric Association defines low vision as two categories:
• Partially sighted – a person has visual acuity between 20/70 and 20/200 with conventional prescription lenses.
• Legally blind – a person has visual acuity no better than 20/200 with conventional correction and/or restricted field of vision less than 20 degrees wide.
Q. Who can be affected by Low Vision?
A. Although low vision can occur at any stage in life, it primarily affects the elderly. Low vision is more common in adults over age forty-five, and even more common in adults over age seventy-five. However, low vision is not a natural part of aging. Although most people experience some physiological changes with age, these changes usually do not lead to low vision. Most people develop low vision because of eye diseases. Common causes of low vision include: macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and cataracts.
Q. What are some common symptoms of Low Vision?
A. The symptoms described below may not necessarily mean that you have low vision. However, if you experience one of more of these symptoms, contact your eye doctor for a complete exam. Your eye doctor can tell the difference between normal changes which are common with age and changes caused by eye disease.
• Difficulty recognizing objects at a distance (street signs or bus signs)
• Difficulty differentiating color (particularly in the green-blue-violet range)
• Difficulty seeing well up close (reading or cooking)
You may also experience one or more of three types of vision problems:
• Overall blurred vision which can be caused by cataracts, scars on the cornea, or diabetic retinopathy
• Loss of central or center vision, frequently caused by macular degeneration
• Loss of peripheral or side vision, most commonly caused by glaucoma or stroke