What is low vision?

By Estimarié de Wet - B.Optom (UJ) CAS(SA)

What is low vision?

Many people think that they have low vision because they need to wear glasses or have a high prescription, but low vision is a much broader field of optometry that is not always addressed with routine eye examinations.

The process of examination is different compared to a routine eye test. These tests are done at a closer distance using a different reading chart en special lighting depending on the eye condition.

Patients with low vision have vision loss or visual impairment that cannot be fully corrected using spectacle prescription, contact lenses or surgery.

According to an article published in The South African optometrist: Visual impairment in South Africa: achievements and challenges

“A person with low vision is one who has impairment of visual functioning even after treatment and/or standard refractive correction, and has a visual acuity of less than 6/18 to light perception, or a visual field of less than 10 degrees from the point of fixation, but who uses, or is potentially able to use, vision for the planning and/or execution of a task.”

Macular degeneration, Stargardts disease, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa are some of the conditions that might cause low vision.

Usually with low vision, glasses are not sufficient in providing the best possible vision. It is necessary to use additional low vision devices for distance and/or near tasks.

Low vision devices include magnifiers, illuminated magnifiers, telescopes, bioptics, visors, reading stands and many more.

In some cases it is also helpful to undergo mobility training. Some occupational therapists are equipped to assist patients with training to set up their environment to simplify tasks.

At spectacle Warehouse we offer basic low vision testing and have several low vision devices available.

Disability in one area is ability in another; we place the magnification on your real need to improve functionality.