Low Vision Awareness Month
February is Low Vision Awareness Month. About three million people in the United States suffer from low vision. Visit your VSP doctor to learn what can be done to aid those who are affected by this condition.
Low Vision: Helping People Turn up the Dimmer
Low vision is the dim place between clear sight and blindness. People who have this condition tend to be older and are also dealing with other vision-impairing conditions
We talked with Jack Fugate, OD, who is a retired professor from the Ohio State University College of Optometry. He explained that low vision is where eyesight is significantly impaired, even with correction. As an example, “If patients can’t read newspaper print with ordinary prescription glasses or contacts, they belong in the category of those with low vision,” Dr. Fugate explains. For many, low vision means legal blindness, defined as corrected visual sharpness of 20/200 or worse in the better eye.
Low vision is not a disease in its own right but it usually goes along with other age and health-related conditions. Diabetes, macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts are the usual suspects.
Fortunately, there is help for people trying to live a normal life with low vision. “They’re basic, but they do help,” says Dr. Fugate.
It sounds simple, but enlarging the font of your smart technology is helpful. The best method for people to improve their sight with low vision is just making things appear bigger! That’s where magnifiers come in with several varieties to choose from:
- Eyeglass-mounted; Magnifiers and telescopes can be placed directly on glasses. This is good because it leaves your hands free to do other things. Magnifiers are for close-up tasks and telescopes for seeing things farther away (like a ball game, for example).
- Hand-held and tabletop: For on-the-go activities, hand-held magnifiers help people take better vision with them. For instance, they can be helpful when you’re trying to read a price tag. The tabletop magnifier is great for working on projects and crafts at home.
- Electro-optical systems: These complex sounding tools are special closed-circuit TV devices that make video images larger.
Besides technology based tools, you’ll have a relatively easy time finding large-print books, magazines and other reading materials. Websites are also moving toward providing the option to increase image sizes on the screen.
Clear vision and a sense of independence can go hand-in-hand. For those suffering from low vision, the key is taking advantage of visual aids that can enable you to live a fulfilling and active life. Don’t let low vision dim the world around you.
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