Low vision means that even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine or surgery, people find everyday tasks difficult to achieve. Reading the mail, shopping, cooking, seeing the TV, and writing can seem challenging. Living with a visual impairment can be difficult.

Most people develop low vision because of eye diseases and health conditions like macular degenerations, cataract, glaucoma and diabetes. A few people develop vision loss after eye injuries or from birth defects. While vision that’s lost usually cannot be restored, many people can make the most of the vision they have.

Although many people maintain good vision throughout their lifetimes, people over age 65 are at increased risk of developing low vision. Your eye care professional can tell the difference between normal changes in the aging eye and those caused by eye diseases. You and your eye care professional or specialist in low vision need to work in partnership to achieve what is best for you. They may help you keep doing many of the things you did before.

Signs of Vision Loss

There are many signs that can signal vision loss. For example, even with your regular glasses, do you have difficulty with the following activities:

  • Recognizing faces
  • Reading, cooking, sewing or fixing things around the house
  • Selecting and matching the color of your clothes
  • Do work or home lights seem dimmer than usual?
  • Reading signs like street names or store banners

If your vision cannot be treated by conventional methods, such as glasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery, then ask the eye care professional for information about vision rehabilitation. These services may include eye examinations, a low vision evaluation, visual and adaptive devices, support groups, and training on how to perform everyday activities in new ways.