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Low Vision

Definition:

Low Vision is a bilateral impairment to vision that significantly impairs the functioning of the patient and cannot be adequately corrected with medical, surgical, therapy, conventional eyewear or contact lenses. It is often a loss of sharpness or acuity but may present as a loss of field of vision, light sensitivity, distorted vision (disfigured objects) or loss of contrast. Low vision often may occur as a result of birth defects, injury, and the aging process or as a complication of disease.

Causes:

  • Macular degeneration - A disorder that affects the light sensitive area of the retina at the back of the eye where images are focused. The macula—the area on the retina responsible for sharp central vision—deteriorates, causing blurred vision, which may cause problems difficulty in reading and blurred central vision.
  • Diabetic retinopathy - Diabetes can cause blood vessels that nourish the retina to develop tiny, abnormal branches that leak. This can interfere with vision and, over time, may cause severe damage to the retina. The damage due to diabetic retinopathy results in irreversible loss of vision.
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa - Retinitis pigmentosa gradually destroys night vision, severely reduces side vision, and may result in total impairment. An inherited disease, it usually produces its first symptom—night blindness—in childhood or adolescence.
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) – Previously known as retrolental fibroplasia, retinopathy of prematurity occurs in infants born prematurely and is caused by high oxygen levels in incubators during the critical neonatal period.
  • Retinal Detachment – Retinal detachment may result in total impairment in the detached area of the affected eye. It involves the retina separating from its underlying layer.
  • Glaucoma – It is a form of damage to the optic nerve, which can result in vision impairment.

Symptoms:

  • Difficulty recognizing objects at a distance (street signs or bus signs).
  • Difficulty differentiating colors (particularly in the green-blue-violet range).
  • Difficulty seeing well up close (reading or cooking).
  • The symptoms described above may not necessarily mean that you have low vision. However, if you experience one or more of these symptoms, contact your eye doctor for a complete exam. Your eye doctor can tell the difference between normal changes which are common with age and changes caused by eye disease.

Treatment option:

  • Various techniques will be taught to the patient with the idea of utilizing their remaining vision to carry out their day to day activities.
  • Optical devices that will help you adapt, such as magnifiers, telephones or closed-circuit televisions.
  • Techniques that will help you utilize your remaining vision.
  • Environmental modifications to maximize your remaining vision.
  • Adaptive non-optical devices, such as large-print cookbooks and talking watches.
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