Reduced or Low vision is a visual impairment that cannot be corrected by standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery. Normal activities like reading, shopping, cooking, writing, and watching TV may be very difficult to accomplish. The consequences of vision loss may leave people feeling anxious, helpless, and depressed. It is important to remind them that there is hope! I’m a firm believer that hope is one of the greatest gifts one human can give to another.
Vision rehabilitation helps people adapt to vision loss and maintain their current lifestyle. A vision rehabilitation program offers a wide range of services, including training in the use of magnifiers and other adaptive devices. Education on ways to complete daily living skills safely and independently, guidance on modifying residences and information on where to locate resources and support are part of an effective program. These programs typically include a team of professionals consisting of a primary eye care professional specializing in low vision. Occupational therapists, orientation and mobility specialists, certified low vision therapists, counselors, and social workers may also be a part of this team.
What causes low vision?
Low vision is usually caused by eye diseases or other health conditions including age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetes and glaucoma. Essentially, diseases for which older adults are at higher risk though not limited to the older population. Many inherited disorders such as retinitis pigmentosa, albinism as well as Eye injuries and birth defects are other causes. Whatever the cause, lost vision often cannot be restored. It can, however, be managed with proper treatment and vision rehabilitation.
What are the signs of low vision?
•Getting around the neighborhood
•Sewing or fixing things around the house
•Selecting and matching the color of clothes
How many people have low vision?
According to National Eye Institute, 4.2 million Americans ages 40 and older are visually impaired. Of these, 3 million have low vision. By 2030, when the last baby boomers turn 65, the number of Americans who have visual impairments is projected to reach 7.2 million, with 5 million having low vision.
Who is at higher risk for low vision? Vision loss can affect anyone at any age, but low vision is most common for those over age 65. African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are at a higher risk for vision loss from diseases such as glaucoma and diabetic eye disease, while whites are more at risk for vision loss from age-related macular degeneration.
At Alpine EyeCare Center in Boulder, Colorado I would be happy to help ‘plug you in’ to resources after a comprehensive evaluation. Most importantly, I want you to know you are NOT alone.
For more information and additional ideas on how to use these resources, visit the NEHEP Low Vision Program Web page at:
NEI Twitter: @NatEyeInstitute
NEHEP Twitter: @NEHEP