Low Vision

What is low vision?

Low vision means that even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery, people find everyday tasks difficult to do. Millions of Americans lose some of their vision every year. Irreversible vision loss is most common among people over age 65.

Is losing vision just part of getting older?

No. Some normal changes in our eyes and vision occur as we get older. However, these changes usually don't lead to low vision.

Most people develop low vision because of eye diseases and health conditions like macular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma, and diabetes. While vision that's lost usually cannot be restored, many people can make the most of the vision they have.

Your eye care professional can tell the difference between normal changes in the aging eye and those caused by eye diseases.

How do I know if I have low vision?

You should have regular dilated eye exams to determine your eye health, but there are many signs that can signal vision loss. For example, even with your regular glasses, do you have difficulty:

  • Recognizing faces of friends and relatives?
  • Doing things that require you to see well up close, like reading, cooking, sewing, or fixing things around the house?
  • Picking out and matching the color of your clothes?
  • Doing things at work or home because lights seem dimmer than they used to?
  • Reading street and bus signs or the names of stores?

Vision changes like these could be early warning signs of eye disease. If you believe your vision has recently changed, you should see your eye care professional as soon as possible.

How do I know when to get an eye exam?

Regular dilated eye exams should be part of your routine health care. However, if you believe your vision has recently changed, you should see your eye care professional as soon as possible.

Read the rest of this excellent article on low vision at the National Eye Institute.

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