LOW VISION ASSESSMENT
Low vision is the term eye care professionals use to describe vision impairment from conditions such as macular degeneration for which there is currently no cure.
It means partial sight, or sight that isn't fully correctable with surgery, pharmaceuticals, contact lenses or glasses. Low vision can range from moderate vision impairment, such as tunnel vision or blind spots, to "legal blindness," to almost total blindness
Vision can be hazy with cataracts, blurred or partially obscured in the central visual zone with macular degeneration, and distorted or blurred with diabetic retinopathy. People with glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa can lose peripheral vision and have difficulty seeing at night.
Children as well as adults can be visually impaired, but it is mostly a problem that afflicts seniors. Vision loss can be very traumatic, leading to frustration and depression. When a child has severe problems with his sight, it is very important to visit a low vision practitioner who can prescribe the best low vision aids. Ignoring a child's visual needs will certainly result in poor performance in school. Losing the ability to drive safely, read quickly and view a television or computer screen easily causes many people with low vision to feel shut off from the world. They may be unable to get around town independently, earn a living or even shop for the necessities. Some visually impaired people become completely dependent on friends and relatives, while others suffer alone. This is too bad, because there are many ingenious low vision devices and strategies that can help people overcome vision impairment and live independently.
The first step is to visit an optometrist who specializes in low vision care. He or she can evaluate the degree and type of vision loss, prescribe appropriate low vision aids such as magnifiers, telescopes and video magnifiers, and train the patient to use them. A specialist can also recommend non-optical adaptive devices, such as large-face printed material, audio tapes, special light fixtures and signature guides. Just as importantly, low vision specialists can provide referrals to counsellors, who can help low vision patients cope with their new life situation.
If you are having any difficulty seeing — hazy or blurred vision, light sensitivity, loss of peripheral vision, night blindness, a need for more light than before, colour confusion, spots or difficulty in reading — see an eye care professional for a complete exam.
These could be the first signs of a serious eye disease such as macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa; you need to take action before further vision loss occurs. Devices such as magnifiers, telescopes and closed-circuit television are designed to help the partially sighted enjoy a quality of life with minimal compromise.
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