Low vision is a condition in which vision cannot be corrected by glasses, contacts, surgery or medicine. People who have vision loss are said to be visually impaired or to have low vision and their vision loss is usually caused by an underlying eye disease. A variety of disorders that affect the eye (many age-related) can cause an individual to become visually impaired and these include: macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts and retinitis pigmentosa.
Having low vision is actually the third most commonly occurring physical impairment in those over 65, exceeded only by heart disease and arthritis. In the United States, estimates of those with low vision range from 3 million to over 20 million people.
Those with low vision typically have difficulty reading, writing, watching television, recognizing people’s faces or engaging in other daily living tasks. They also have difficulty with mobility because they cannot see that well and that can lead to safety issues like falling.
Fortunately, many people who are visually impaired can be helped with a service called low vision care. This is a professional service provided by an ophthalmologist, optometrist, optician or a vision rehabilitation professional who specializes in helping visually impaired patients maximize their remaining vision. This care usually involves an exam or evaluation and the providing of solutions called low vision aids that include both optical and electronic magnification devices as well as non-optical products such as task lighting.
Most people with vision loss can be helped by the low vision care provided by a professional with the end goal of the care being to help those with low vision overcome the limiting effects of their visual impairment so that they can remain as independent an safe as possible and so they can enjoy a high quality of life.
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