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Low vision Information

Low vision is a subspecialty within the professions of optometry and ophthalmology dealing with individuals who have reduced vision even when using the best possible spectacle or contact lens correction available. It can be a result of either congenital disease (e.g. retinitis pigmentosa or Leber's congenital amaurosis) or acquired factors (such as in some forms of optic atrophy).



Visual impairments may take many forms and be of varying degrees. Visual acuity alone is not always a good predictor of the degree of problems a person may have. Someone with relatively good acuity (e.g., 20/40) can have difficulty with daily functioning, while someone with worse acuity (e.g., 20/200) may function reasonably well if their visual demands are not great.
Some people who fall into this category can use their considerable residual vision - their remaining sight - to complete daily tasks without relying on alternative methods. The role of a low vision specialist (optometrist or ophthalmologist) is to maximize the functional level of a patient's vision by optical or non-optical means. Primarily, this is by use of magnification in the form of telescopic systems for distance vision and optical or electronic magnification for near tasks.
People with significantly reduced acuity may benefit from training conducted by individuals trained in the provision of technical aids. Rehabilitation professionals, some of whom are connected to an agency for the blind, can provide advice on lighting and contrast to maximize remaining vision. These professionals also have access to non-visual aids, and can instruct patients in their uses.
Once the emotional shock of the disability is overcome, if alternative techniques (basic rehabilitation) are learnt, good quality of life and an adjustment to the disability can be achieved, not only in the case of low vision, but also in the case of blindness.
Experience tells that seeking the support of other people affected is a good therapy to overcome the disability, not only for the individual affected but for their families as well. There are associations that give this kind of support and can put the person in touch with professionals specialized in the collective's problems.