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Low vision is an ocular condition that is typically incredibly debilitating. It can result in loss of the ability to do many activities, including driving, reading, and watching television. In some cases, it can even interfere with one's ability to live alone or care for themselves in basic ways. Understanding low vision and how to keep your eyes as healthy as possible is critical when this condition affects yourself or a loved one.
Low vision is the loss of sight that can’t be corrected with prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Low vision doesn’t include complete blindness; you will have some sight left.
What a person with low vision can see greatly depends on what originally caused their decreased vision. For example, advanced macular degeneration can cause the loss of central vision, but leave peripheral vision intact. Damage from untreated glaucoma can cause the loss of peripheral vision, but central vision may be uncompromised. Some individuals with low vision can only see light and dark, or they may be able to make out shadows and shapes. Other individuals may be able to read with strong magnifying glasses.
There are two categories of low vision, based on the visual acuity of the eye with the most sight:
Partially sighted: Your vision is between 20/40 and 20/200 with conventional prescription lenses.
Legally Blind: Your vision is no better than 20/200 with conventional correction, or you have a restricted field of vision less than 20 degrees wide.
If you or a loved one have severely reduced vision, it's critical to see an eye doctor regularly, ideally one that specializes in treating individuals with low vision. If poor visual acuity is caused by a medical condition, treatment can keep it from progressing and reducing vision even further. Additionally, some people may benefit greatly from special low vision aids, such as magnifying glasses or special prescription lenses.
It's important to keep your eyes healthy when you have low visual acuity. Always wear protective glasses when doing anything that could result in an eye injury -- for example, polycarbonate lenses that don't shatter can be used to protect an eye that has some vision if the other eye has low vision. Some vitamins may be helpful in keeping the eyes healthy, especially if they contain beta-carotene or fish oil and other Omega fatty acids.
Talk with your Sandy Springs eye care specialist to learn more about how you can keep your eyes healthy when you have low vision. To schedule an appointment with our optometry practice, call now at (404) 252-1702.