Low vision is a term that encompasses many eye conditions and visual impairments.
From reading to writing, and from recognizing faces to shopping, living with low vision can be challenging for you or someone you know.
Here are six things to know about low vision.
1. Millions Of Americans Are Blind Or Have Low Vision
Nearly 7 million Americans—or 1.7 percent of the population—are expected to experience serious vision issues over the next decade, according to projections from the CDC.
Projections for blindness, based on 2010 data, were expected to surpass 2 million people in 2030. By 2050, that number is expected to double to around 4 million.
The CDC also estimates that by 2030, nearly 5 million people will experience low vision. Almost 9 million people are projected to have low vision by 2050.
2. A Variety Of Eye Diseases Or Eye Conditions Can Cause Low Vision
Many eye conditions and eye diseases can cause low vision, such as (in no particular order):
- Macular degeneration
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Retinal detachment
- Retinitis pigmentosa
- Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)
- Traumatic Brain Injury
It’s important to know that the natural aging of the eyes doesn’t cause low vision.
3. Low Vision Can Mean Many Things To Different People
Low vision presents itself in a variety of ways, including:
- Central vision loss
- Peripheral (side) vision loss
- Night blindness
- Blurred vision
- Hazy vision
- Sensitivity to light
These symptoms can result in added difficulty in completing work or any activities of daily living.
4. Low Vision Cannot Be Fixed
Low vision may be treated with eyeglasses, medicine, or surgery.
However, low vision often results in permanent vision loss.
If you experience low vision, you must adjust your quality of life and your everyday tasks according to your remaining vision.
5. Low Vision Aids Help With Activities Of Daily Living
Dozens of tools and aids can help people with low vision.
- Optical low vision aids – These include magnifying spectacles, stand magnifiers, hand magnifiers, and telescopes.
- Non-optical aids – Items that talk, large-print media or phones, and watches can all be helpful to people with low vision.
- Electronic devices – Audiobooks help people with low vision listen. Electronic books, smartphones, tablets, and computers all have functions that allow changes in text size and contrast. They may also even use voice commands.
6. People With Low Vision May Be Eligible For Disability Benefits
Low vision isn’t necessarily legal blindness, so people with low vision can apply for disability benefits.
Here are some brief highlights from the Social Security Administration on what qualifies for blindness and low vision.
- You can get benefits if you’re blind – This means that your vision “can’t be corrected to better than 20/200 in your better eye or if your visual field is 20 degrees or less in your better eye for a period that lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months.”
- You can get benefits even if you’re not blind – Your vision problems may still qualify you for benefits if, combined with other health problems, you cannot work.
- You can earn up to $2,040 a month in 2019 – This is if you’re receiving Social Security disability benefits and if you’re blind.
If you notice changes in your vision, remember to schedule your annual eye exam with your doctor.