Low vision occurs when individuals lose their quality of vision to the degree that they are unable to do many everyday tasks such as reading the newspaper, checking price tags while shopping, watching television, sewing, or other tasks that require close vision. Low vision can have a variety of causes including injury to the eye or diseases such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. Low vision is not correctable with vision aids such as eyeglasses or contact lenses, nor is it correctable through surgery.
While vision for these patients is not restorable, fortunately, there is help in the form of vision aids and vision rehabilitation. Some aids include magnifiers, telescopes, electronic reading machines, task lighting devices and computer and internet access technology.
Technology is constantly improving to help those suffering with low vision. Some of the newest innovations include a co-robotic cane which provides feedback to the user on their surrounding environment. There are also fingerless robotic gloves that help guide the wearer to locate door handles, their coffee mug, or their bottled water. There is even a smartphone app to assist people when crossing busy intersections that utilizes a GPS navigation system to identify their specific location.
Low vision patients often view their condition is simply a result of aging and accept the results. While low vision symptoms can vary widely, patients should consult their ophthalmologists for alternatives that may be available to them. Low vision specialists may be able to assist them with improvements in their quality of vision and life.