Currently, 4.2 million Americans are visually impaired, and 3 million of them have low vision, according to the National Eye Institute.
In 2030, we expect the number of visually impaired Americans to hit 7.2 million, and 5 million will have low vision.
For those with low vision, traditional methods of vision correction -- glasses, contacts, surgery -- fail to fully restore their sight. As a result, they struggle with permanent blurry vision.
The main causes of low vision among adults are age related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma. For young people, the leading causes of low vision are optic nerve atrophy and retinitis pigmentosa.
Unfocused or blurred vision causes difficulties with everyday tasks, like reading, driving, shopping, writing, cooking, and watching TV. People with low vision often suffer from frustration, depression, and a feeling of helplessness.
Low vision also creates severe health and safety risks. Low vision prevents you from seeing if the crosswalk signal is green, if your oven or burner is on, important information on your medication labels, and expiration dates on the food in your fridge.
But there’s good news!
These difficulties can be overcome with the help of a low vision specialist.
Not all eye doctors are specialists in the realm of low vision. Visit your eye doctor and ask if he or she can refer you to a qualified low vision specialist.
The American Academy of Optometry, as well as The Vision Council, can also help you find a good low vision specialist near you.
Expect to receive a low vision exam, which is much longer and more exhaustive than a typical eye exam. The specialist will try to determine the extent of your vision loss, your network of support, how you are dealing emotionally with your vision loss and if you are motivated to make some lifestyle changes to adapt to your vision.
To prepare for your low vision exam, make sure you document any hereditary health or vision issues, your own vision history (including any operations), and bring any seeing aids you regularly use.
A low vision specialist can help you find solutions to the difficulties you face. Some of these solutions include:
Instead of trying to find a cure for your vision problems, the specialist finds ways to improve the day-to-day difficulties you face as a result of your vision.
Many low vision devices and products can help you, including:
If you struggle with low vision, or if you know someone who hasn’t had any luck with glasses or eye surgeries, a low vision specialist and the right modifications might be the solution you’re searching for.