Vision loss, or low vision, is a general term used to describe impaired vision caused by age related diseases or conditions of the eye, or by head injuries. Vision loss is different from blindness in that it refers to impaired vision, rather than a complete loss of vision. Patients with low vision will have difficulty performing everyday tasks such as writing, reading, cooking and shopping. Vision loss can be detected with annual eye exams that include pupil dilation, visual acuity test, a measurement of intraocular pressure (IOP), and an evaluation of the visual field (peripheral vision).
Causes of Vision Loss
Vision loss usually occurs due to one of several eye diseases. These include:
- Cataracts: This eye condition is characterized by a clouding of the lens of the eye. This clouding occurs when protein begins to clump together in the lens.
- Glaucoma: This eye disease occurs when elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) causes damage to the optic nerve.
- Macular Degeneration: This degenerative eye disease is characterized by a loss of central vision. It occurs when the macula (a tiny area on the retina) becomes damaged.
- Diabetic Retinopathy: This degenerative eye disease occurs in patients with diabetes and is characterized by abnormal blood vessel growth. This can eventually lead to a detached retina and blindness.
- Presbyopia: This eye condition occurs as a person ages and the lens of the eye becomes less flexible and loses its ability to focus on objects up close.
Vision loss can also occur due to head injury, brain damage, and stroke.
Vision Loss Treatment Options
Vision loss can usually be treated and, in some cases, vision can be restored. Treatments for the eye diseases listed above include: laser eye surgery, traditional surgery, medication, photodynamic therapy, and corrective lenses.
If detected early, further vision loss can usually be prevented, but for those whose vision cannot be restored, low vision aids such as large print books, magnifying glasses, and telescopic lenses can help patients resume normal activities.
If you or someone you know is suffering from vision loss, contact a qualified vision loss specialist to learn more about your condition and the treatment options available.