As we age our vision begins to change. Sometimes it is a small change in our visual acuity and sometimes it starts to become blurred or hazy. Speaking with a health care professional about your eye health is important especially when it deals with changes in vision.
What is low vision?
Low vision can reference many different changes with your vision and lead to many different issues or problems with how you see. Here is one definition of low vision, related to visual acuity:
A condition caused by eye disease, in which visual acuity is 20/70 or poorer in the better-seeing eye and cannot be corrected or improved with regular eyeglasses.1
Visual acuity is a number that indicates the sharpness or clarity of your vision. A visual acuity measurement of 20/70 means that person, who is 20 feet from an eye chart, sees what a person with unimpaired (or 20/20) sight can see from 70 feet away.1
Most people who have gone into an Eye Care Professionals office for an eye exam have seen a Snellen Eye Chart. In the United States, the Snellen Eye Chart is a test that ophthalmologists and optometrists use to measure a person’s distance visual acuity. It contains rows of letters, numbers, or symbols printed in standardized graded sizes.1
After various eye-related tests, such as those that use the Snellen Eye Chart, an eye care professional might diagnose a person with low vision. Low vision may not necessarily imply that you are legally blind due to the wide sight range, which is between 20/70 and 20/200. It typically refers to vision loss that cannot be corrected by medical or surgical treatments or conventional eyeglasses but may be a sign of an eye disease that can be addressed.1
Causes of low vision
Eye diseases are a common cause of low vision.2 For example:
- Hazy, blurry vision can result from cataracts.
- Blurred or partially obscured central vision is typical of macular degeneration.
- Diabetic retinopathy causes blind spots, blurriness and visual distortions.
- Poor peripheral vision is a hallmark of glaucoma.
- Retinitis pigmentosa reduces peripheral vision and the ability to see in the dark.
- Light sensitivity and loss of contrast are other symptoms of these and other diseases.
- Heredity and eye injuries.
What can you do about it?
If you have a vision impairment, that interferes with your ability to perform everyday activities and have a better quality of life, see an eye care professional for a complete eye exam immediately.2
After your examinations, if your eye care professional finds that you have vision loss that cannot be corrected with standard eyewear, medical treatment or surgery, they will help you take the next steps toward coping with your new situation. This is a great time to ask questions and get resources to help you adjust.2
An eye doctor who doesn’t exclusively work in low vision would refer you to a low vision specialist. This specialist can evaluate the degree and type of vision loss you have, prescribe appropriate aids such as lighted handheld magnifiers, digital desktop magnifiers, and bioptic telescopes, and will also help you learn how to use them. You are not alone and have many tools at your disposal.2
The specialist also can recommend non-optical adaptive devices, such as large-face printed material, audio recordings, special light fixtures and signature guides for signing checks and documents. Special eyewear with tinted UV filters can help with light sensitivity and heighten contrast.2
If necessary, your specialist or eye doctor also can refer you to a mental health professional and/or mobility coach to help you cope with your vision loss.2
Finding your way with low vision can be a change in lifestyle but arming yourself with knowledge from your eye care professional, getting aids to help you adjust and creating a good eye health regimen will help you move successfully into your future. Age may change your sight but you can take proactive steps to keep you on the best track possible.
To create a good eye health regimen we suggest using TOZAL, a dietary supplement designed to support ocular health, or Zenoptiq, to aid in the reduction of bacteria and viruses commonly found on the eyelids and lashes.*
*27 microorganisms (such as Adenovirus-pink eye, Staphylococcus aureus- staph, and Escherichia coli- E.coli) killed within 30 seconds via time-kill testing done as an independent study performed in an accredited lab on behalf of Focus Laboratories (In Vitro Eradication of Pathogens).