All you should know about ‘Low Vision’!

Low vision refers to significant visual impairment that can’t be fully corrected with contact lenses, spectacles, medication or even eye surgeries. It includes;

  • Significant loss of visual field. Tunnelled vision (lack of peripheral vision)accompanied by blind spots
  • Reduction of Best-Corrected Visual Acuity (BVCA) to almost 20/70 which is worst case scenario for vision
  • Legal blindness in medical terminology is defined as 20/200 visual acuity or even worse that’s restricted to 20 degrees or less


Low vision is mostly caused by underlying eye diseases such as;

  • Blurry or hazy vision due to cataracts
  • Partially obscured or faint central vision due to macular degeneration
  • Visual distortions, blind spots and haziness with diabetic retinopathy
  • Poor marginal/peripheral vision because of glaucoma
  • Inability to see in the dark and decline in peripheral vision against retinitis pigmentosa

Other common symptoms are sensitivity to light, contrast reduction, injury to the eye and heredity. Whatever the cause, a visit to the ophthalmologist is must for detailed eye examination and timely treatment.


A certain injury or birth defect may cause low vision in children. Visually impaired children come across learning disabilities that can be corrected with special guidelines and professional training. On the contrary, loss of vision in adults and elderly is mostly associated to trauma which leads to depression and frustration.

Individuals, who lose their grip to drive safely, watch television, read quickly and clearly feel isolated from the world. They’re dependent on someone (mostly family member) to drive them downtown for some shopping or other necessary tasks.

The U.S. Census Bureau

In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey concluded with the following statistics against people with low vision and having difficulty in earning;

  • Employed Americans between the ages of 21 and 64 being visually disabled was nearly 38% back in 2010. Employment rate for complete/full-year was 24% whereas jobless were 13%.
  • Median annual income of households which also included those who’re visually disabled was approximately $33,500 against $60,000 for those having no such disability.
  • For the visually disabled, individual poverty rate was 30% against 12% for those with no particular disability.

Some of these visually impaired lately become dependent on friends, family and close relations whereas others get to live solo in shelters managed by government.

Managing low vision

Almost every type of vision impairment interferes with our ability to live a normal life and perform routine activities. The first step to overcome this impediment is consulting a professional ophthalmologist.

Not every type of poor vision can be corrected with eyeglasses and contact lenses which may further indicates to a more serious eye disease like age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa or glaucoma and even development of cataract that require immediate removal.

Whatever the anomaly, immediate medical attention is required before the case worsens. In case the problem is beyond correction of normal glasses or contacts, surgery and detailed medical treatment might be the only option.


Many new options to aid the visually disabled are available nowadays such as digital magnifiers, biotic telescopes, illumination devices and so on. However, these may be prescribed only by the primary doctor per the patient’s health and severity of the eye disease.

This content is proudly offered by Moorfields eye specialists in Dubai.

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