What Causes Low Vision?

elderly woman wearing glasses

Low vision is an eye condition in which your vision is compromised to the point that it is difficult or impossible to perform everyday tasks such as driving, reading, writing, or watching television. It unfortunately cannot be corrected using normal methods of vision correction, such as glasses or contact lenses.

While commonly associated with seniors over the age of 60, low vision also affects children and adults of all ages. Certain birth defects or medical conditions – regardless of age – can cause low vision and negatively impact the quality of life. Our low vision doctors are here to help patients from all over the US and Canada with the following low vision diseases, begin to do tasks they want to do again such as read, write, make out faces, and drive.

Common Eye Diseases That May Cause Low Vision

Though aging, on its own, doesn’t cause low vision to occur, people over the age of 60 are at the highest risk. This is because as we get older, we become more prone to the types of eye diseases that cause low vision. These eye diseases and conditions include:

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

This eye condition is the most common cause of vision loss amongst the elderly. It occurs when the macula becomes damaged, causing loss of central vision.

  • Cataracts

Cataracts are a very common part of aging. They occur when proteins and fibers in the eye begin to break down, causing clouding of the lens. This condition doesn’t hinder sight at first, but can eventually cause it to seem as though you are viewing the world through a foggy window.

  • Diabetic retinopathy

Many people are not aware that diabetes can harm their eyes. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels cause damage to the small blood vessels inside the eyes causing them to leak. This eventually damages the eyes and reduces vision. In extreme cases this may even cause total blindness.

  • Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that occurs when pressure inside the eye begins to build up, causing damage to the optic nerve. This disrupts the ability of the eye to communicate visual information to the brain.

Detecting Eye Diseases Linked to Low Vision

Checking for eye diseases such as those mentioned above is usually done as part of a routine comprehensive eye exam. Your eye doctor will ask you to read letters off a chart to check your visual acuity and use various tests to check for loss of peripheral vision. They will also either take digital scans of the inside of your eyes or dilate your eyes using dilating drops, and manually look at the inside of your eyes to check for signs of damage that are consistent with certain eye diseases.

If signs of eye disease are found, your eye doctor will advise you on the best treatments, and speak to you about low vision solutions that will help you make the most of your remaining vision.

Read more about common eye diseases that can cause low vision:

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