Low Vision & Ways to Cope

If you are experiencing a reduction in your ability to see, either due to a field of view that has become incomplete or you have vision that is 20/70 or worse leading to blurry vision – this condition is identified as “Low Vision.”  When you have low vision, such issues cannot be completely remedied with the use of contacts, eyeglasses, or even eye surgery.  There is a variety of causes behind the onset of low vision conditions, including:

  • Brain Injury
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Eye Diseases
  • Eye Injury
  • Glaucoma
  • Hereditary Conditions
  • Macular Degeneration

Low vision conditions should not be confused with blindness: In fact, if you have low vision you do have some ability to see clearly.  However, because you have a visual impairment it can affect your ability to complete daily tasks like driving or reading, making it either more difficult for you to accomplish or even impossible to do.

Adults and children can suffer from low vision impairments, but the condition is something that is far more common in the elderly.  If you’ve had good vision your entire life and you are now in your senior years while experiencing the onset of visual impairment, the feeling can prove depressing, frustrating, and even frightening – suddenly, after all these years the eyesight you’ve always taken for granted is no longer there.

Some inidividuals who are employed who later develop eye impairments may lose their position because good eyesight is needed for working.  As per information available from Lighthouse International, as much as 43.7% of Americans with a visual impairment that are between the ages of 21 and 64 are working. Then compare the latter figure to the figure of Americans who are working (in the same age group) who have full vision, you’ll find that 80% of the full group vision is employed.

Low vision causes the inability to read fast, drive safely, and to see the computer or television screen with ease.  Those with low vision may suffer in silence as they begin to feel a sense of isolation.  Low vision can strip a person of his or her independence, ability to work, and the ability to care for one’s self.  It’s unfortunate, but some individuals with low vision become entirely dependent on loved ones.  Even worse, some have no one to turn to and then suffer alone.

Fortunately, there are low vision devices that can assist individuals suffering from issues with low vision.  For example, there are stand-alone magnifiers, handheld telescopes and magnifiers, and eyeglass magnifiers that can be mounted on eyeglasses.  There are strategic measures that a person with low vision can implement to maintain autonomy and near full independence as well.

Regular eye care is crucial for the person suffering from low vision.  Additionally, if you notice symptoms new to your current condition, you should visit the doctor immediately.  Symptoms that warrant an eye doctor visit include additional reading difficulties, seeing spots or floaters, needing additional lighting to see, the onset of night blindness, sensitivity to light, and blurry vision.

The above-mentioned symptoms may be telling you that’s you’ve got a serious eye condition in need of treatment, such as retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma, or macular degeneration.  The symptoms may also suggest the presence of a cataract that will require removal.  The key to good eye health is to act on symptoms the minute they arise.

If, following an eye examination the doctor has found conventional methods cannot improve your vision (surgery, glasses, or contacts), you will have to see an optometrist for low vision.  When you visit the optometrist the degree of your low vision will be evaluated and you might be prescribed aids to help you deal with your current condition.  You will be educated on how to use the equipment as well.

The optometrist or other specialist who works with people suffering from low vision will recommend adaptive devices, lighting options, audio tapes, large print books, and signature guides as strategic measures for working around your low vision condition.  If you require counseling, the specialist can refer you to speak to someone so you can learn how to cope with the onset of low vision conditions.



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