Low Vision, also referred to as poor vision, is when a person loses their sight which is not completely restored using such aids as surgery and prescription eyeglasses. Such sight loss can include poor night vision, blind spots, and a glare preventing one from seeing clearly. Total blindness is not considered low vision because there is still some sight with low vision. Low vision is normally associated with people who are “legally blind” and require vision aids.
The American Optometric Association classifies low vision in two categories:
Partially Sighted: Visual acuity is between 20/70 and 20/200 with conventional prescription lenses.
Legally Blind: Visual acuity no better than 20/200 with conventional correction and/or a restricted field of vision less than 20 degrees wide.
The World Health Organization classifies visual impairment as:
- 20/30 to 20/60: Mild vision loss, or near-normal vision – 20/70 to 20/160: Moderate visual impairment, or moderate low vision – 20/200 to 20/400: Severe visual impairment, or severe low vision – 20/500 to 20/1,000: Profound visual impairment, or profound low vision – less than 20/1,000: Near-total visual impairment, or near total blindness
Low vision can result from a number of conditions that can include inherited diseases, birth defects, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and physical injuries. It can also result from such circumstances as diabetes, cancer of the eye, albinism, or a brain injury. Eye care specialists can diagnose low vision by using lighting, magnifiers, and visual testing charts. Low vision is often seen in adults over 45, especially the elderly.
The most common types of low vision include:
- Central Vision Loss: A blind spot in the center of a persons vision. – Peripheral Vision Loss: Cannot see on either side, above or below eye level. – Night Blindness: Problems seeing in poorly lit areas. – Blurred Vision: Objects both near and far are blurry. For instance, refractive error is an eye disease where the shape of the eye does not bend light properly, resulting in a blurry image. Common refractive conditions include myopia (short sight) hypermetropia, (long sight) presbyopia, (aging of the lens) and astigmatism (irregular curvature of the lens.) – Hazy Vision: Vision appears to be covered with a film or glare.
Sign that may suggest low vision include:
- Not recognizing faces – Performing activities where you find yourself looking closely such as when reading, watching television, or sewing. – Picking out the wrong clothing colors. – Turning on bright lights to see well. – Unable to read street signs
Low vision can often be treated using such aids as hand magnifiers, lenses that filter light, reading prisms, magnifying glasses, telescopic glasses, and closed-circuit television. Non medical aids that can help a person with low vision include talking watches and clocks, text reading software, large print books and magazines, clocks, phones, and watches that have larger numbersetc.
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