Low vision generally means impaired vision, and it can happen whether you are young or old. Many people have low vision (meaning they can’t see well) due to hereditary conditions, eye diseases or eye injuries. Some people don’t see well at sunset with changing light and others have a vision that deteriorates slowly as they age. Patients can possibly see better with glasses, contact lenses or vision surgery, but others will have permanently impaired vision. Find out what to do about low vision, if we can help you see better, and how you can get through your day easier if you don’t see well.
From what the name suggests, low vision is vision impairment where you don’t see very much. This is a significant vision loss or seeing very little. This doesn’t happen to many people who are young, but it can affect people the older they get or if they have a chronic eye condition. You may have heard of the term “legally blind”. You see so little, that you can be considered blind. Low vision is not just nearsightedness, farsightedness or losing vision in one part of your eye. It is losing vision to a significant degree that you can’t see. You may not be able to drive or operate any type of machinery, and you may struggle with everyday tasks such as reading.
We can correct many vision problems, but you can’t always correct low vision. People don’t generally lose their vision all at once. That vision loss happens over time from conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and other eye diseases. All of these diseases take time to develop. It’s noticing vision loss early-on that will save you from developing full-blown low vision in the future. Here are some common conditions and what they do to your vision:
Cataracts - This is the clouding of your lens. Your vision may become misty or blurry over time or you may have glare from lights or see double vision. We can stop the progression of cataracts if you catch it early on.
Macular Degeneration - This condition can’t be cured, but we can slow down the progression. Patients will notice a loss of central vision that moves outward over time.
Diabetic Retinopathy - Diabetes damages the blood vessels of the eyes, which can lead to patients seeing floaters, spots, central vision loss, blurred or cloudy vision. 90% of cases can be stopped with early treatment.
Glaucoma - This painless condition causes patients to lose their peripheral (side) vision. That vision loss grows until patients are blind. Catching it early can stop it in its tracks.
Being legally blind is typically defined as having less than 20/200 vision. You’ve heard of 20/20 vision before, which is considered “perfect” or clear vision. That means you can read the small letters on line 8 of a vision chart clearly even if you are 20 feet away from it. Being legally blind is a visual acuity of 20/70 or less. That means that if you are 20 feet away from the chart, you only see it as clearly as if you were 70 feet away from it. The larger the number behind the “20/”, the worse your vision is. 20/200 vision is near blindness. You will know you have low vision if you struggle to recognize faces of people even when you have glasses or contact lenses. You will have struggles with seeing most other things as well.
How do you know if your vision is changing? What does changing vision mean? There are many people that don’t want to visit the eye doctor when they notice vision changes because they are afraid of what vision changes mean. However, your changing vision may simply mean that you need glasses or contacts to see clearly once more. Or, you could have a common eye condition developing. You never want to put off seeing the eye doctor if you have vision changes happening. Many conditions can be prevented or their progression halted if you seek treatment early on. Waiting only makes vision worse. Plus, if you simply have a refractive error (such as nearsightedness or farsightedness) we can easily correct the problem.
Come into our office for a comprehensive eye exam. Depending on your symptoms, we can run over 100 different eye tests to know exactly what is happening with your vision. The best part is that this appointment generally takes less than 30 minutes of your time. Plus, the American Optometric Association recommends that patients see the eye doctor every 2 years if their eyes are healthy. Spending 30 minutes every 2 years is so easy! Even if you have an eye condition such as low vision, you may only have to see the eye doctor once or twice a year.
Noticing vision changes is key to stopping vision problems from developing further. Even though low vision can’t be corrected fully, there are options to help you see to some degree. Many people have low vision and still function well, especially if they are seeing an eye doctor as they should. We can help you with your low vision and any other vision problems you are having. However, you have to do your part and schedule an appointment with us so we can assess your eye health. Simply call Optical Masters today at (720) 782-2190 and get help with your low vision problems today!