What is Low Vision?
Low Vision is decreased vision that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery. People with low vision are not completely blind. However, they have vision problems that may include:
- A loss of clear central vision
- A loss of visual field (the area visible around the object that you are looking at directly)
- A loss of color vision
- A loss of the ability to adjust to glare
- A loss of the ability to see well in darkened settings
How does it occur?
Low vision is caused by damage to part of the visual system. The visual system includes the cornea, lens, retina, optic nerve, and vision centers in the brain. The most common causes of low vision are:
- Macular Degeneration (damage to the center of the retina at the back of the eye)
- Diabetic Retinopathy (an eye problem caused by diabetes)
- Glaucoma (Damage to the optic nerve)
- Optic Neuropathy (another type of damage to the optic nerve)
- Eye disease you are born with (congenital eye disease
What are the symptoms?
- Trouble reading and seeing small objects
- Blurry or spotty vision
- Loss of peripheral (side) vision
- Loss of depth perception
- The need for bright light most of the time
How is it diagnosed?
Your eye care provider will give you a complete eye exam. He or she will also ask about your medical history because many diseases may affect your eyes.
How is it treated?
Because Low Vision cannot be treated with ordinary glasses or contact lenses, you will probably use devices to help you with your daily activities. Low-vision aids fit into two broad categories: optical and non-optical. In addition to these devices, good lighting is important.
What are optical devices and how do they help with low vision?
Optical devices make things look larger. They include:
- Magnifying eyeglasses, which are like regular eyeglasses, but they make things look even larger. With these eyeglasses you may need to hold your reading material or objects close to your eyes to get in focus
- Hand Held magnifiers, which you can buy from drug stores and at low-vision centers. They come in many shape in sizes.
- Stand magnifiers, so that you do not need to hold anything over your reading material or other objects.
- They may have their own light source.
- Telescope eyeglasses, which make things at distance look larger than regular glasses do. Each side has two lenses that are separated by a small space.
- Closed-circuit TV, which magnifies and sharpens the contrast of images on a TV screen.
What are non-optical devices and how are they used to treat low vision?
Non-optical devices are things other than magnifiers that can be used easily by people with low vision. Examples are:
- Large-number phone keypads
- Large-numeral watch faces
- Filters that reduce glare
- “Talking” clocks or scales
- Books, magazines, or newspapers on tape or printed in large type
The exam is 1 hour and includes a full low vision exam and one additional follow up dispense/training of device.
Please bring any old magnifiers and bring a companion for support.
To schedule a Low Vision exam with Dr. Mary Ma,
please contact our Huntington Beach office at (714) 901-2007