Low vision – what exactly is it? Essentially, “low vision” describes a visual impairment that is not correctable through surgery, pharmaceuticals, glasses or contact lenses. It is often characterized by partial sight, such as blurred vision, blind spots or tunnel vision, but also includes legal blindness.
Low vision is a loss of eyesight that makes everyday tasks difficult. A person with low vision may find it difficult or impossible to accomplish activities such as reading, writing, shopping, watching television, driving a car or recognizing faces.
The causes of low vision can be many and varied, with eye diseases being one of the most common causes, along with heredity and eye injuries. Eye diseases include:
- Cataracts – can result in hazy, blurry vision.
- Glaucoma – a hallmark of which is poor peripheral vision.
- Macular Degeneration – resulting in blurred or partially obscured central vision.
- Diabetic Retinopathy – causing blind spots, blurriness and visual distortions.
- Retinitis Pigmentosa – a reduction in the ability to see in the dark and peripheral vision.
These diseases, along with others exhibit the symptoms of light sensitivity and loss of contrast.
Age doesn’t matter when it comes to visual impairment, but it does affect how we deal with the problem. Some visually impaired people suffer alone, while others become extremely dependent upon relatives and friends. Children with low vision may have problems in learning concepts, and need special instruction from their earliest years on. They also need additional help with socialization. Adults, including young adults through seniors, are a different matter altogether. Vision loss in this group can be extremely traumatizing, resulting in frustration and depression. They can feel shut-off from the world because of their inability to drive safely, watch movies or television, view a computer screen or read quickly. They may also be unable to find and keep employment, shop for food and other necessities or even get around town independently.