Low vision is a term used to describe any vision loss that cannot be fully
corrected through surgery, prescription glasses or contact lenses. Low
vision makes everyday tasks such as reading, writing, driving, watching
TV and recognizing faces difficult.
Because vision cannot be fully restored in cases of low vision, people
with low vision must learn new ways of functioning with partial sight
in order to maintain their independence. Electronic devices, magnification
devices and computer software are some of the low vision aids used to
maximize whatever vision remains.
Low vision can affect people of any age. The most common causes of low
vision include age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and
diabetic retinopathy. The portion of vision lost depends on the condition
affecting one’s vision.
Age-related macular degeneration is a progressive eye disease affecting the macula, the central part of
the retina responsible for sharp central vision. Macular degeneration
can affect one’s ability to read, drive and see clearly. Although
it is generally a hereditary disease, risk of macular degeneration increases
with smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. Women
are more likely to develop macular degeneration than men, and fair skin
can also be a risk factor for macular degeneration.
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that causes leaking blood vessels in the back of the
eye. It is caused by diabetes and can lead to significant vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults ages
20 to 64, and is one of the most frequent causes of retinal blindness
in the world.
Glaucoma results from a buildup of pressure due to an abnormal flow of fluid in
the eye. When the pressure rises inside the eye, it could result in damage
to optic nerves, and if the pressure is not regulated, loss of vision
or permanent blindness may occur.
Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. It is the most common cause
of vision loss in people over age 40 and a leading cause of blindness
worldwide. Vision lost due to cataracts can be restored if the natural
lens of the eye is removed and replaced with a lens implant.
During Low Vision Awareness Month, take this opportunity to schedule a
comprehensive eye exam. Keeping up with your annual exams increases the
potential for early detection and treatment of an eye condition, and may
prevent or reduce vision loss.
If you have experienced significant vision loss, schedule a low vision
eye exam with your ophthalmologist. During this exam, your eye doctor
will assess your functional needs, capabilities and limitations due to
low vision and may prescribe low vision therapies to help you get the
most out of your remaining vision.
Contact Key-Whitman today to
schedule a comprehensive eye exam.