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Vision Therapy Blog
Low Vision Awareness Month
What is low vision?
Advances in medicine have attributed to longer life-expectancies, but with the majority of adults living to a much older age vision loss has swiftly become a growing problem. According to the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) there are currently 4.2 million Americans over the age of 40 who are visually impaired. As the last of the baby boomers approach retirement age, that number will likely increase by several million in the next 10 years.
Low vision is usually caused by eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, or age-related macular degeneration. Glasses, contacts, surgery and medication cannot correct low vision, and the impairment makes activities like reading, writing, and watching TV exceptionally difficult. More strenuous activities such as shopping or cooking become all but impossible, and dealing with the loss of desired activities as well as the impairment itself can leave sufferers feeling depressed and helpless.
What are the signs?
Difficulty with close activities, despite wearing glasses/contact lenses, can indicate there is already a problem. If a visit to your regular optometrist and an adjustment on your current prescription doesn’t resolve the issue, low vision could be the culprit. Problems with recognizing faces, loss of peripheral vision, matching colors on clothing, or navigating around the house or neighborhood are all early warning signs of vision loss. The sooner it’s detected, the better the chances of halting the vision loss, so act quickly if these problems have already arisen.
Vision rehabilitation can help!
Since older adults are at a much higher risk for these eye diseases, it’s important to get a diagnosis and start treatment as soon as possible. If the condition cannot be treated, it can often be managed with vision rehabilitation. Allowing the patient to maintain their current lifestyle is a key goal in vision rehab; retaining a familiar routine can also ease the anxiety and depression of vision loss. Vision rehabilitation utilizes a wide range of services such as:
- Resource and Support Information
- Magnifiers and other vision devices
- Assistance with adapting residences
- A helpful team of eye-care professionals specializing in low vision