A diagnosis of low vision can be a major life upheaval. A variety of visual aids are available that can make your life easier and help you resume your normal activities.
Visual impairment includes a range of problems, including reduced visual acuity, hazy or blurred vision, blind spots and tunnel vision. It can occur as a result of aging, eye disease or injury and other health conditions.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is a condition that causes central vision to become blurry or distorted, making it difficult to read, drive, or recognize faces. It usually occurs in one eye, but may affect both eyes. The symptoms include a wavy or blurry appearance of straight lines and a central blind spot. It can develop slowly over a few years (“dry macular degeneration”) or fast over a few weeks or months (wet macular degeneration).
The international standard definition of low vision is visual acuity worse than 20/70 or the loss of any useful vision in both eyes. Other symptoms of low vision include a hazy or blurred appearance, tunnel vision, and difficulty adapting to low light levels. Many of these symptoms can be managed with the help of an experienced low-vision specialist.
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that develops when high blood sugar damages the blood vessels in your retina (the light-sensitive layer at the back of your eye that changes light into images). These damaged blood vessels may swell, leak or bleed, which can cause blurry vision. Sometimes, your body will grow new blood vessels to try to correct this problem, but these are often weak and can bleed or leak as well. It affects people who have diabetes and usually affects both eyes.
This eye disease is the leading cause of blindness in adults, and it is more common in those over 60. It is a progressive eye disease that can be managed with regular appointments with an eye care specialist and low vision services. This includes special glasses, magnifiers and other visual aids to help you navigate your daily life more effectively. It can also be treated with laser therapy. In severe cases, you might need to have surgery to implant an Argus II retinal prosthesis.
A genetic disease, retinitis pigmentosa (re-tin-EYE-tis PI-ment-oh-suh), causes vision loss that worsens over time. It damages the rod photoreceptor cells in the retina, located in the back of the eye. These cells provide night and peripheral vision. In non-syndromic forms of RP, the cone photoreceptor cells can also be damaged. This diminishes colour vision and central visual acuity. Eventually, patients develop tunnel vision and can only see objects that are directly in front of them.
If you suffer from low vision, you should see a qualified eye care specialist to determine the cause of your problem. Your doctor can recommend low-vision aids to help you manage your condition and get the most out of your remaining eyesight. A low vision exam will also include tests for acuity, visual field and depth perception. Getting regular eye exams will greatly reduce the likelihood of developing a serious eye disease that can cause low vision.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Low vision is a visual impairment that cannot be corrected with standard treatments like medicine or surgery. It can make everyday activities like reading, watching television or driving extremely difficult, if not impossible. Common symptoms of low vision include the inability to see things close by or at a distance, blurry or hazy vision and tunnel vision, where it is only possible to see objects directly ahead.
There are many different causes of low vision. Some of the most common are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and retinitis pigmentosa. Other causes of low vision are head injuries, strabismus (imbalance in the positioning of the two eyes), amblyopia (lazy eyes) and cataracts.
The most effective way to diagnose low vision is through a thorough optometry exam. This includes testing your visual acuity, visual fields and ability to detect colour and contrast. During this process, your doctor will also ask you about the impact of your visual impairment on daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, driving and participating in hobbies.
For comprehensive eyecare services and product selection, contact our team today at (519) 941-6761.