What is Low Vision?

Low vision is a class of visual disabilities, which result in progressive loss of visual acuity and functionality. These types of Low Vision conditions cannot be *cured* by medication, surgery or corrective lenses.

 

 

Low vision disorders include:

  • Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa
  • Glaucoma
  • Certain types of stroke-related vision disabilities

 

Low vision is the third leading cause of disability among seniors – ranking only behind heart disease and arthritis. It is a major cause of falls leading to fractures, head injuries and hospitalizations. It is also a significant cause of depression as it robs seniors of the opportunity to lead safe, independent and fulfilling lives. And, it leads to enormous health care costs for the elderly.

Symptoms of low vision include difficulty recognizing objects at a distance, differentiating colors (particularly in the green-blue-violet range), and seeing well up close (such as reading or cooking). Those afflicted with low vision often cite difficulty recognizing faces of friends and relatives, doing things around the house because lights seem dimmer, and matching colors of clothes.

Age-related macular degeneration affects 26% of those over 75 and strikes one American every three minutes.

The Effects of Low Vision

Animation showing macular degenerationMost low vision diseases affect the macula, which is the part of the eye where central, or detail, vision originates. Light reaches the macula where it is concentrated and passed via the optic nerve to the brain, so images can be formed.

At the center of the macula is an area called the fovea. This is where the greatest number of cells are concentrated. The fovea is the true focal point of detail vision.

Whenever light strikes the fovea, a waste product called drusen is formed. The healthy macula simply disposes of this waste naturally. When macula degeneration strikes, this waste removal process is affected. Drusen builds up and begins to interfere with detail vision. Moreover, this buildup begins to contaminate adjoining cells, so that the destruction of central vision progressively worsens.

Other than some recently developed, injectible drugs that reduce the bleeding associated with wet macular degeneration, there is no cure for the macular damage caused by AMD.

There is, however, something that can be done about it – Low Vision Works.

The Low Vision Works program works!

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