Low Vision

Low vision occurs with loss of eyesight that makes it difficult to accomplish everyday tasks.

Low vision is a loss of eyesight that makes everyday tasks difficult such as reading, watching television, driving a car or recognizing faces. Total blindness is very unusual and most patients can maintain their independence and perform many of their former visual tasks with assistance and flexibility.  When vision cannot be improved sufficiently with glasses, medications, laser or surgery, we attempt to help patients get the best use of their remaining vision. Depending on the degree and pattern of visual loss, patients may benefit from visual or non-visual aids.

Patterns of Visual Loss

  • Fine central vision
  • Side vision
  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Night vision
  • Peripheral vision
  • Color vision

When visual loss is severe in both eyes, patients may experience visual illusions of the Charles Bonnet Syndrome that should not be confused with dementia, hallucinations or dementia.

Low Vision Treatment
Low Vision may be treated with bright lightings, optical or electronic aids. Different solutions are recommended by low vision specialists depending on the patient's vision, needs and abilities. Losing vision does not mean giving up your activities, but it may require new ways of doing them. The average patient requires 3 or 4 devices to perform most activities. When optical magnifiers do not work, electronic aids such as a CCTV, Kindle® or iPad® may be helpful. Sometimes it is just easier to use talking books.  There are numerous programs available for smartphones.  Some cases are referred to low vision specialists.  If peripheral vision is limited then ambulatory training will be suggested.  An occupational therapist, experienced in working with low vision patients, can come to your home to assist you in organizing your activities and address your needs.

Legal Blindness
Patients may be classified legally blind if they have less than 20/200 best corrected visual acuity with both eyes together or limited visual fields.  Most patients that are legally blind are still able to do most activities of daily living with their existing vision. Being classified legally blind will result in loss of your drivers license but may entitle you to a free low vision evaluation and a Federal Tax Deduction. You can get a New York License for identification purposes. The Retina Group of New York can file this paperwork.