Low vision occurs when vision cannot be improved with eyeglasses, surgery or medicine. It can occur at any age, but it is more common in older people. Unlike people who are blind, patients with low vision have remaining sight. However, it is insufficient to enable them to recognize faces and perform daily activities, such as reading, watching television and driving. They may also suffer from loss of space orientation or balance, have tendency to bump into things, have difficulty catching or pointing at objects.
Low vision may be caused by eye diseases, such as:
- Glaucoma – the patient develops tunnel vision that may eventually lead to blindness
- Diabetic retinopathy – the patient loses a portion of his vision that may eventually lead to blindness
- Macular degeneration – the patient loses central vision
- Retinitis pigmentosa – the patient may lose peripheral (side) vision that may eventually lead to blindness
- Brain tumors – the defect in the patient’s visual pathway will result in loss of visual field
- Amblyopia/Lazy eye – the patient, usually a child, has poorer vision in one eye than in the other
Patients with low vision are encouraged to make use if their remaining vision. They should also consult with a low vision specialist to evaluate the extent and type of vision loss. He will then provide a visual rehabilitation program that fits that needs, lifestyle and visual condition. The program may include use of special devices, such as magnifiers, tele-microscopes and electronic optical systems (CCTV, magni-cam and low vision imaging system or LVIS).