What is Low Vision?
Low Vision describes vision impairment that cannot be corrected by glasses, contact lenses or surgery. Low Vision often involves blurred vision, partial sight, tunnel vision or blind spots and can make life very difficult. Those who have been diagnosed as legally blind and near total blindness are also considered Low Vision patients. Activities that were once common, such as driving, recognizing faces, reading, sewing or watching TV can now be challenging or impossible.
Who is at risk for Low Vision?
Anyone at any age is at risk for Low Vision. Children with low vision need more help with socialization with other children and adults and may have a harder time learning concepts in school. Older adults are typically impacted by low vision due to age related eye health issues. African-Americans and Hispanics over 45 and others over 65 years of age have the highest risk. Some of the most common causes of Low Vision include:
Other causes of Low Vision can come from strokes and traumatic brain injuries, but age-related macular degeneration accounts for almost 45% of all cases of low vision. About 135 million people worldwide have low vision.
Tips for living with Low Vision
Use Contrasting Colors
One example of using contrasting colors is to use a dark tablecloth and white plates on a table. This way the edges of the table and the food on the plates is more apparent.
Use different shape labels or puff paint to make items easy to identify.
Make text on screens larger
Many televisions, mobile devices and even bathroom scales offer the ability to change the size of text and numbers that appear. Change yours to a larger size to make things easier to view.
Organize! “A place for everything, everything in its place.” ~Benjamin Franklin
When everything has a designated place, finding things is much simpler. Keep things neat and organized.
Know that you are not alone
Living with Low Vision can be isolating. There are support groups in many hospitals, libraries and senior centers for those who live with low vision. Ask your optometrist or low vision specialist if you need help finding a support group in your area.
Know when to ask for help
Family and friends can only help if you let them know you need it. Some communities provide low vision aids to assist you in your lifestyle. They may allow you to try a product before you buy it or they have the products available to lend for a period of time. Some low vision aids are available only from your doctor. Ask your optometrist for advice on what low vision aids will work best for you. If you are in the Oklahoma City Metro area you may want to look into the Department of Rehabilitation Services Visual Services Assistive Technology Lab.
What resources are available to people with Low Vision?
- Video Magnifiers
- Computer Voice Systems
- Talking Appliances
- Talking Clocks
- Talking Calculators
- Task Lighting
- Magnifying Reading Glasses
- Money Readers
- and many more
There is also a growing list of smartphone apps including:
VizWiz: Allows the user to take a photo and record a question. Recruited volunteers and friends then respond vocally with what the photo is showing.
Voice Brief: Reads aloud your email, Twitter and Facebook feeds among other things.
TalkingTag: Allows users to voice record and play back information onto sticky labels specifically created for the app. Labels can be used on medications, to label boxes or files, food items or to note expiration dates.
Light Detector: This app uses your phone’s camera to detect light. Use to find lights that are on in the home or windows and exits.
Chime: This app sounds a chime alert sound on the quarter, half and hour and there are different alerts to choose from.
Once vision is lost it is gone forever. Prevention is key to maintaining a healthy future and the earlier an eye disease or problem is diagnosed, the more likely it is to protect your remaining vision successfully. Our doctors recommend annual eye exams for children and adults. You should schedule immediately if you notice any sudden changes in your vision. To schedule an appointment call us, or request an appointment online.