Your doctor is concerned primarily with how your eyes function. If you report a problem with your vision, your doctor is likely to translate that into analyzing your eyes’ condition. Focused on treating and controlling your eye condition, your doctor may not appreciate the problems you face from loss of vision (even mild loss). You may, in fact, wonder if they even care.
While how you function in the world may be of secondary interest to your doctor, it is surely your primary concern. If you are facing vision problems that medical intervention can not reverse, there is much you can do to optimize your vision and maximize your quality of life.
But you can take the necessary first steps in assessing and optimizing your functional vision. What follows are some tips and guidelines for:
Functional vision is the use of vision for particular purposes. We use functional visual skills to carry out our everyday activities.
How you do on a vision test performed at an eye doctor’s office does not necessarily tell you how you are using vision. You may have very poor vision, not good enough for detailed work such as sewing, cooking or reading, but still be able to move around safely, seeing and avoiding objects.
Functional vision can be improved
Even when treatment cannot reverse vision loss, your functional vision may be improved with training and with vision-enhancing devices. People can learn to make better use of their low vision and can function efficiently with only small amounts of visual information.
What is low vision?
Low vision is impairment to vision that significantly impacts your functioning. Low vision refers to vision loss that can not be sufficiently corrected with conventional lenses (glasses or contact lenses) nor controlled with medical or surgical intervention.
It is often a loss of sharpness or acuity but may present as a loss of field of vision, light sensitivity, distorted vision or loss of contrast. Low vision often may occur as a result of birth defects, injury, the aging process or as a complication of disease.
Someone with low vision may have severely reduced visual acuity, loss of contrast sensitivity, light sensitivity, or a significantly obstructed field of vision. Or an combination of these.
Low vision can occur as a result of complication from eye disease or conditions, injury, and/or birth defects.
“Do I have low vision?”
The information and questions offered in this module can help you determine whether you have or might have low vision, as well as how to seek professional assessment and assistance.
Sure my vision is worse; I’m getting older…
Many people mistakenly assume that becoming visually impaired is a part of the normal aging process.
Aging eyes do experience functional vision challenges that negatively affect the person’s life, including:
- Decreased ability to see detail – difficulty reading, seeing faces, meds, mail, TV, cooking, driving, crossing street, stairs….
- Loss of peripheral vision – mobility problems
- Increased sensitivity to glare
- Needing more light
- More time required to adjust to bright light and/or darkness
- Reduced contrast sensitivity
- Decreased ability to judge depth perception
- Decreased color sensitivity
- Losing Focus
Low vision is not normal aging.
See the module on The Aging Eye