About Low Vision

What is Low Vision?
Low vision is visual impairment that cannot be corrected by wearing glasses or by surgery or other treatment. It affects a person’s ability to function in the world and perform daily tasks. There are many causes of low vision, the most common being age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Cataracts often contribute to impaired vision, and although they can be removed, some people are not good candidates for cataract extraction. 

Low vision is not limited to the senior population, although the number of individuals who are visually impaired is growing as our population ages. Younger people may have low vision from genetic or congenital conditions such as ocular albinism, retinitis pigmentosa, cone dystrophy, Stargardt’s disease, congenital glaucoma, Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy, or from trauma or other causes.

People with low vision often have difficulty reading or recognizing faces if they have a condition that impacts their central vision, such as macular degeneration. Other individuals with low vision may bump into things or experience falls due to poor peripheral, or side, vision. This commonly occurs in individuals with glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Some individuals with low vision have difficulty seeing colors and may be sensitive to light or have poor night vision.

About Low Vision Services

A low vision exam is different from a dilated eye exam, since its focus is on improving visual function rather than assessing and treating eye conditions. During the low vision exam, I will:
  • Determine your needs and goals through careful questioning.
  • Assess your visual function, such as distance and near vision, your ability to see lower contrast letters, your peripheral vision, central vision, ability to use both eyes together, and color vision.
  • Determine whether a change in your glasses prescription is needed for either distance or near vision.
  • Assess low vision devices such as illuminated magnifiers, video magnifiers, magnifying spectacles, spectacle telescopes, tinted filters, and more.
  • Prescribe appropriate devices to improve your ability to perform tasks and enjoy activities.
  • Refer you for follow up with a vision rehabilitation therapist for in-home training with devices and a home safety and lighting assessment if needed.
      To schedule your low vision exam, ask your doctor's office for a referral and have them fax a copy of your last eye exam to 508-650-1879. To be eligible, you will need to have had an eye exam within the past year. If you have not been for an eye exam in more than a year, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor and ask him or her for a low vision referral at the time of your exam.