What is low vision?
Low vision is a condition that involves an impaired ability to see (particularly central
vision) that is unresolved or uncorrected with traditional eyeglasses, contact lens,
intraocular lens implants, or corrective surgery. However, in some cases, people with
low vision may be aided with special visual devices.
What causes low vision?
There are a variety of different causes of low vision, including the following:
Macular degeneration (the most common cause of low vision. This involves damage to
a person's central vision making it difficult to read, drive, or perform other daily
activities that need fine, central vision)
Aging (Aging is a risk factor for low vision. However, people of any age may be affected.)
Congenital defects (present at birth)
Disease (including diabetes)
Other eye diseases (for example, glaucoma or cataracts)
What are the different types of low vision?
In most cases, people with low vision have disabled central vision (also called reading
vision). Yet, there are other types of low vision that may include the following:
Disabled or partial peripheral vision
Disabled or partial color vision
Disabled or partial ability to adjust to different light settings
Disabled or partial ability to adjust to different contrasts
What are low-vision devices?
Low vision cannot be improved by more traditional methods (such as the use of eyeglasses
or contact lenses). People with low vision often rely on the use of a number of different
instruments, called low-vision devices. Low-vision devices, categorized as either
optical or nonoptical, help to improve visual ability for millions of people every
What are optical, low-vision devices?
Simply stated, optical, low-vision devices involve the use of one of many types of
lenses to improve vision. For example:
Magnifying devices (such as magnifying eyeglasses, hand magnifiers, magnifying lamps,
or telescopic viewing devices)
Closed circuit television involves enlarged images, exaggerated contrasts, and adjustable
What are nonoptical, low-vision devices?
Nonoptical, low-vision devices help bring images closer to the eyes. This may include
the use of any, or all, of the following:
Larger print items (such as magazines, newspapers, books, calendars, address books,
cookbooks, dictionaries, games, playing cards, sheet music, or street signs)
Larger, illuminated watches and clocks
Instruments that provide voice instruction (for example, computers)
Instruments that provide voice information (for example, clocks, timers, calculators,
scales, or key chains)