Recognize Seven Signs of Low Vision

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CAREGiver with senior and doctor doing an eye check_18.jpgLow Vision, What Is It?

Low vision is simply reduced vision of 20/70 or worse that isn't corrected by glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery. It is the result of a congenital disease, birth defect, eye disease, health condition, or eye injury, and it commonly affects people over 65 as a result of certain diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetes. If left undetected, low vision may lead to blindness. Therefore, it is important for caregivers to be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Signs of Low Vision:

  • Difficulty accomplishing everyday tasks such as watching TV, reading the newspaper, or cooking.
  • Difficulty distinguishing colors, such as when choosing clothes to wear.
  • Inability to recognize faces, especially in a crowd.
  • Difficulty reading street signs or store banners.
  • Finding lights at home or work dimmer than normal.
  • Difficulty reading a computer screen.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Condition-Specific Symptoms:
  • Macular degeneration can cause tunnel vision, blurred vision, or blind spots.
  • Glaucoma can cause tunnel vision or poor peripheral vision.
  • Cataracts can cause blurry or hazy vision.
  • Retinitis pigmentosa can cause reduced peripheral vision and an inability to see in the dark, or night blindness.
  • Diabetic retinopathy can cause visual distortions, blurred vision, and blind spots.

While these signs and symptoms do not always signify low vision problems, they can be early warning signs. It is always best to seek the advice of a professional eye care physician as soon as possible to determine whether treatment is necessary and to preserve remaining vision in the event of disease onset.

Questions to Ask Your Vision Specialist

  • Will low vision aids or glasses assist me with daily activities such as watching TV, reading, cooking, and using the computer or mobile phone?
  • Will I need assistance or training to use my low vision aids?
  • Will I need to make changes in the way I accomplish my routine daily activities?
  • What services are available to assist me in safety and maintaining quality of life despite my visual impairment?
  • Are there support groups I can join to help me cope with my vision loss?
  • Are there resources or assistance to help me maintain my current job or find a job?
Low vision loss is very common and affects millions worldwide. However, it is extremely traumatic, frustratingly life-changing, and the cause of great emotional distress. It can lead to isolation and depression. Therefore, it is important for caregivers to be educated and aware. Help your loved ones maintain a high quality of life, safety, and independence!

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