February is Low Vision Awareness Month

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 10-Feb-2015

Low Vision Awareness
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.

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