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Unfortunately, some people over 60 lose sight beyond the normal, age-related vision changes. Macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy are among the eye health conditions that can lead to permanent vision loss in varying degrees and forms.

Visual acuity alone is not a good predictor of a person’s degree of visual difficulty. Someone with relatively good acuity (e.g., 20/40) can have difficulty functioning, while someone with worse acuity (e.g., 20/100) might not experience any significant functional problems. Other visual factors, such as poor depth perception, limited side vision, extreme sensitivity to lights and glare, and reduced color perception, can also limit a person’s ability to do everyday tasks.

Low-vision rehabilitative services can provide people with the help and resources they need to regain their independence. These services can teach people with low vision a variety of techniques that allow them to perform daily activities with their remaining vision.

Your doctor of optometry can help plan a rehabilitation program so that you can live an independent life within your condition’s limitations. A wide variety of rehabilitation options are available to help people with low vision live and work more effectively, efficiently and safely. Most people benefit from one or more low-vision treatment options. The more commonly prescribed devices are:

  • Spectacle-mounted magnifiers. A magnifying lens is mounted in spectacles (this type of system is called a microscope) or on a special headband. This allows you to use both hands to complete a close-up task, such as writing a letter.
  • Handheld or spectacle-mounted telescopes. These miniature telescopes help people see at longer distances, such as across the room to watch television. They can also be modified for near (reading) tasks.
  • Handheld and stand magnifiers. These are often portable and convenient for short-term reading tasks, such as viewing price tags, labels and instrument dials. Both types can include lights.
  • Video magnification. Table-top (closed-circuit television) or head-mounted systems enlarge reading material on a video display. Some systems can be used for distance viewing. Some are portable systems, and some can be used with a computer or monitor. Users can customize image brightness, image size, contrast, foreground/background color, and illumination.

In addition, numerous other products can assist those with a vision impairment, such as large-type books, magazines, and newspapers; books on tape; talking wristwatches; self-threading needles; and more. Talk with your optometrist to learn more about your available options.

Shared from the American Optometric Association

Dealing with Vision Loss

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