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Low Vision

People with low vision have reduced vision, even when using the best possible corrective lenses. Low vision may be a result of either congenital disease such as retinitis pigmentosa or Leber’s congenital amaurosis or of an acquired conditions such as optic atrophy. It is treated within a subspecialty of optometry and ophthalmology called “low vision”. 

What causes low vision?

Low vision is often the result of an injury, birth defect, the aging process, disease or condition such as ocular albinism, retinitis pigmentosa, or stargardts macular dystrophy.  If the condition develops later in life, it is usually caused by glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration or diabetes. 

Low vision aids for computer users.

In general, visually impaired people can use the same low vision aids for viewing a computer screen as they do for regular reading activities. These include eyeglass-mounted magnifiers, handheld magnifiers and stand-alone magnifiers.But also, special software has been developed to either display computer data in large print or read the material aloud in a synthetic voice.These adaptive low vision devices let partially sighted people do the same computer-related tasks as fully sighted people — such as word processing, creating and using spreadsheets and viewing Web pages online.Most computer operating systems and Internet browsers allow you to increase the size of Web pages and text on your computer screen to make them more visible to partially sighted users.

Low vision diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis

To help diagnose low vision, the complete eye exam usually begins with questions about your medical history and any vision problems you might be experiencing. It also involves a number of tests designed to evaluate your vision and check for eye diseases. Your doctor may use a variety of instruments, aim bright lights directly at your eyes, and ask you to look through an array of lenses. Next, your doctor will check your eyes with a light to see whether the outside of your eyes are functioning correctly and whether there are any signs of injury or disease. Your eyes will also be tested for visual acuity, or how well you see.

Treatment

Next, your doctor will check your eyes with a light to see whether the outside of your eyes are functioning correctly and whether there are any signs of injury or disease. Your eyes will also be tested for visual acuity, or how well you see.Low vision is a permanent loss of vision that cannot be improved with eyeglasses, medicine or surgery. If you have been diagnosed with low vision, there is no treatment that will give you back your vision. Instead, you will need to learn new ways to use your remaining vision to complete everyday tasks and maintain your quality of life.Remember, low vision is not a normal symptom of aging. Your Eye M.D. can tell the difference between normal changes in an aging eye and those caused by eye diseases. If you have noticed changes in your vision, see your eye doctor right away. 

Coping with low vision loss.

Losing some or all of your vision can be very frightening. Vision is our dominant sense; we use it to boost our other senses. If you are an older adult who is loosing vision you may have a unique set of challenges that is compounded by the loss of vision as your vision loss may not be the only loss that they are experiencing. You or your spouse may have other health problems. You may not be able to participate in long awaited leisure activities. You may have concerns as to whether you can remain independent in your own home. Added to these concerns may be the fact that your vision is not stable. Just when you feel that you have adjusted to your vision loss, your vision may change again. The adaptation process must begin again.The impact of visual impairment is much bigger than the vision problem itself. You have to deal with how the visual impairment affects you psychologically. There are many stages to the grieving process that everyone must pass though on their way to acceptance of their vision loss:

  • Shock — Shock is a normal response to an emotionally painful situation. It allows the individual time to gather the necessary inner strength to help in dealing with the pain of the loss.
  • Denial — Initially you may not believe that your eye doctor is correct in his assessment. By all means, seek out a second opinion from another eye doctor.
  • Grief — It is normal to mourn over the loss of something valued. People differ in the degree to which they grieve and the length of time that they grieve.
  • Anger — It is alright to feel angry as you deal with the emotional impact of the loss. Many people ask “Why Me?”
  • Depression — This is a normal reaction to the loss of any thing valuable. For most people, your ego or your concept of yourself develops on the things that you can do. With decreased vision, you may feel that you can no longer do what you did in the past. You are, therefore, less worthy. You may start to define yourself by your vision and feel that you are not the same person that you were prior to your vision loss. You may feel that you have lost control of your life. After all, how are you going to get through the rest of your life if you cannot see? If you are having trouble overcoming your grief or depression, get counseling or join a low vision support group in your area.

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