Low Vision

What is low vision?

Many people with low vision are taking charge by using devices and services that can help them keep their independence.

When you have low vision, eyeglasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery may not help. Activities like reading, shopping, cooking, writing, and watching TV may be hard to do.

In fact, millions of Americans lose some of their sight every year. While vision loss can affect anyone at any age, low vision is most common for those over age 65.

Low vision is usually caused by eye diseases or health conditions. Some of these include age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract, diabetes, and glaucoma. Eye injuries and birth defects are some other causes. Whatever the cause, lost vision cannot be restored. It can, however, be managed with proper treatment and vision rehabilitation.

You should visit an eye care professional if you experience any changes to your eyesight.

How do I know if I have low vision?

Below are some signs of low vision. Even when wearing your glasses or contact lenses, do you still have difficulty with-

  • Recognizing the faces of family and friends?
  • Reading, cooking, sewing, or fixing things around the house?
  • Selecting and matching the color of your clothes?
  • Seeing clearly with the lights on or feeling like they are dimmer than normal?
  • Reading traffic signs or the names of stores?

These could all be early warning signs of vision loss or eye disease. The sooner vision loss or eye disease is detected by an eye care professional, the greater your chances of keeping your remaining vision.

Many people with low vision are taking charge by using devices and services that can help them keep their independence.

Low vision means that even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery, people find everyday tasks difficult to do. Reading the mail, shopping, cooking, seeing the TV, and writing can seem challenging. But, many people with low vision are taking charge.

Living with Low Vision: Stories of Hope and Independence

People with low vision can regain or maintain their independence and quality of life through low vision services. Watch this video in English or Spanish to learn more about vision rehabilitation and how it helped people continue to live active lives. This video is also available in DVD format as part of our Living with Low Vision: Stories of Hope and Independence booklet.

Once you have been diagnosed with low vision, you may find yourself pondering these questions about the impact of vision loss on your lifestyle. As the people in the video testimonials illustrate, you can continue to lead an independent lifestyle and enjoy everyday activities.

Walking, cycling, bowling, or swimming… people with low vision can do it all! Learn more! Read the Go4Life program tip sheet, Exercise for People with Low Vision. (link is external)

Courtesy: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health (NEI/NIH).