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What Is Low Vision?

Low vision is the loss of sight that surgery, prescription glasses, or contacts cannot correct. You will not become completely blind as you will still have some sight. It entails varying degrees of losing vision. Some patients experience sight loss that is almost complete, while others have a blind spot.


Low vision consists of two categories based on how your best eye sees. The first category is partially sighted. Here, your vision ranges between 20/40 and 20/200 when using conventional prescription lenses. The second category is legally blind, and happens when using a conventional prescription does not improve sight. Your vision does not get better than 20/200. Also, your field of vision is strictly not more than 20 degrees wide.


Signs and Symptoms of Low Vision


Many signs and symptoms can show you have low vision. You may have difficulty doing the following even if you have prescription glasses:


  • Reading signs, names of stores, or street signs

  • Performing tasks as lights seem dimmer

  • Performing close-up tasks like reading, crafting, or cooking

  • Recognizing the faces of people you know, like your family and friends


Such vision changes could be the early signs of an eye disorder. Ideally, early diagnosis of the problem can help you retain your vision.


Who Is at Risk of Low Vision?


Low vision can affect anyone. It results from different injuries and conditions.


It often affects individuals over 45 years old. However, it is more common in those above 75 due to age-related disorders such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. Currently, 1 out of every 6 adults over 45 suffers from low vision. 1 out of 4 adults above 75 years experiences low vision.


Causes of Low Vision


Low vision may have more than one cause. It usually results from injuries or disorders that affect the eye. It can also result from an illness like diabetes. Most people with low vision get it from glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetes.

Inherited disorders, eye cancer, brain injury, and albinism can also cause low vision. Retinitis pigmentosa is one of the inherited disorders than commonly cause low vision. If you have any of the mentioned disorders or have a high risk of getting them, your chances of getting low vision are high.




You can diagnose low vision by getting an eye exam done by your eye doctor. Ideally, make an appointment if you experience vision difficulties that affect daily activities.


Expect your eye doctor to perform tests such as using charts and lighting magnifiers. They will do so to test your visual field, depth perception, and visual acuity.



Some disorders that affect sight, like diabetic retinopathy, are treatable. Treatment can help maintain or restore your vision. But when restoring vision completely is impossible, low vision becomes permanent. Most people with low vision use visual aids. The common ones are reading prisms, telescopic glasses, hand magnifiers, and magnifying glasses.

People with low vision can also benefit from non-optical aids. Some of the most used ones are check guides, text reading software, high contrast clocks, and watches. Patients with diabetes can prevent low vision. Some with glaucoma or macular degeneration can receive treatment to prevent the progression of vision loss.


For more information about low vision, visit Special Eye Care at our office in Camp Springs, Maryland. Call (301) 298-3241 to book an appointment today.

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