Low Vision

Frequently asked questions about Low Vision

What is Low Vision?
Low vision or reduced vision is blurred or missing vision that is typically due to a medical condition. Glasses, contact lenses, surgery and medications, while helpful in improving vision may not provide the vision you need for driving, reading and other activities.

What causes low vision?
Some conditions that can cause low vision include Age Related Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma, Diabetes, Cataracts, Albinism, and Retinitis Pigmentosa. While these diseases are the most common forms of low vision, many other eye and systemic diseases exist that can reduce your vision.

How can a visit with a low vision doctor help me?
Doctors who practice low vision offer a variety of solutions for individual problems. These individual solutions can include hand held and electronic magnification devices, telescopes, lens filters and large print books among other tools. Doctors can also provide resources about therapy, perform testing to verify licensure for patients with low vision, and coordinate care with other practitioners to provide patients with as much independence as possible.

What happens at a low vision appointment?
A low vision appointment is not like other eye appointments. Your doctor and technician will perform testing to get the best sense of what your vision is like and how it can be improved. Goals are asked of every patient as to what they would like to do better, or perhaps if they have lost the ability to do something, perform that task again. Goals for patients should be realistic, and your doctor will work with you to determine what can be achieved, and what cannot be.

Will I be totally dependent on others?
With the help of a low vision professional, and vision rehabilitation, patients can learn to adapt to vision changes that eye conditions may cause. Even with changes to your central vision, training can provide you with a very full, active and independent life-style.

Will I always have low vision?
Some causes of low vision can be very treatable and good vision can be restored. When caught early, conditions like wet macular degeneration and glaucoma can be stopped or slowed. However, damage already done is not reversible. Eye research is currently underway on both the prevention and treatment of eye diseases. Some diseases have demonstrated response to nutritional and supplemental intervention to slow the development of macular degeneration. Our doctors will discuss the best possible treatment regimen for your eye condition with you at your appointment.

Will treatment for my low vision be covered by insurance?
Fortunately, many aspects of vision rehabilitation are now covered by Medicare as well as some private insurance companies.
However, many of the adaptive devices you might require to increase your personal freedom are not covered by most insurers and must be paid for personally. Your doctor will consult with you to determine what kind of low vision products and systems would be best for you.

I have low vision. Does this mean I will go blind?
While there are eye diseases that can cause total loss of sight, most do not. Most diseases that can cause blindness can be controlled with proper management by your doctors. Most people with low vision have a great deal of usable sight. Some people may have vision worse than 20/200, or a field of vision restricted to less than 20 degrees. While this would be considered legal blindness, with proper instruction and vision enhancement, these patients can adapt to their changes in vision.