Low vision is a bilateral eye disorder that creates significant damage to the eyes and cannot be corrected easily with surgical or medical operations. Individuals suffering from low vision may experience blurriness, light sensitivity, low contrast and disoriented vision. This disorder can be a result of either congenital or acquired factors such as:
- Corneal opacity
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Macular Degeneration
- Myopia magna
- Retinitis pigmentosa
- Stargardt’s disease
Visual impairment identification
Anyone with low vision is considered a visually impaired person. The World Health Organization uses the following classification to identify visual impairment:
- 20/30-20/60: near-normal vision/mild vision loss
- 20/70-20/160: mild low vision/mild visual disorder
- 20/200-20/400: severe low vision/severe visual disorder
- 20/500-20/1,000: profound low vision/profound visual disorder
- Less than 20/1,000: near total blindness
- No Light Perception: total blindness
In the US, an individual with low vision, and cannot be corrected at least to 20/200 is classified as legally blind and thus eligible to government programs for classification as disabled.
Although they represent only at least 20% of the world’s population, 82% of blind people around the world are 50 years old and above. In the world statistics, there is an estimated 1.5 million blind children. Available studies claim that females have higher risk of acquiring visual disorders than males.
Degrees of visual impairments
Visual impairments take many forms and varying degrees. Visual acuity is not always a good indicator to determine the degree of the problems an individual may have. A person with acuity of 20/40 may have problems reading, and someone who has a mild low vision such as 20/200 can have normal eye functions.
Individuals who are suffering from low vision can always maximize their remaining sight to complete everyday tasks. The role of an eye specialist is to increase the functional level of a patient’s vision. These individuals can also enroll in training provided by government and private groups trained in providing technical aids. Some agencies also provide rehabilitation to maximize remaining vision.
If you or someone is experiencing low vision or other related eye problems, you should seek the help of an optometrist or ophthalmologist immediately. It would also be better if you could find an eye doctor specializing in low vision cases. You should always remember that only a licensed eye professional could help you with your eye problems.
In 2002, more than 125 million people around the world suffered from low vision. Thus different government agencies, and other organizations and groups dedicated to eye care have created different aids to help people with visual impairments and low vision.
The increasing number of people with low vision can be aided with different optical instruments. Specialists on low vision recommend low vision devices such as in TV, theater, cinema, reading, writing, art crafts, optical filters, book stands, special lights, grid paper, magnified games and special tools created for the visually impaired.
For some people who have very low remaining sights, there are books that are written in Braille, audio books, and computer software and programs. Also in computer operations, there are programs that aid the visually impaired complete tasks.
Low vision services cannot cure the disorder totally. Instead, it utilizes different techniques and special tools to maximize the remaining vision.
The emotional aspect of people who were diagnosed with low vision is also affected. This is the reason why rehabilitation programs are created to help these individuals cope up with their emotions. Those with low vision and the totally blind have a high suicidal tendency and thus should be supported. Ophthalmologists are also trained to help the patient avoid the potential consequences and self-destructive behavior. This rehabilitation should be incorporated during the early stages. Seeking the support of other people especially from family and friends is very good therapy. There are numerous associations that offer this kind of rehabilitation and can help the person seek medical help from eye care professionals.
Alternative techniques and treatments
Alternative techniques and treatments do not eventually replace the need for other surgical and medical treatments such as LASIK surgery, medication and optical aids. Low vision specialists recommend optic filters, special eyewear, magnifiers, adaptive lenses, CCTV systems and other visual aids.