February is Low Vision Awareness Month. Because of this, we are once again, encouraged to participate in this global commitment to inform and facilitate change. This global observance is aimed to help those with low vision, or those extending medical help to patients with low vision to understand how the health condition develops, as well as how they should address this eye problem.
Let us first establish our point of reference. Note that with people living longer, eye diseases, including vision loss, have become major public health concerns. Experts indicated that about 4.2 million Americans from ages 40 and above are visually impaired. Moreover, it is estimated that by 2030, the figures are expected to reach 7.2 million, with 5 million of them having low vision.
How do medical experts characterize low vision? How can it be differentiated from blindness?
Persons with “low vision” are usually described to have partial loss of sight. In addition to this, such condition cannot be fully corrected by prescription lenses, medical treatment, or even surgery. Low vision as well as blindness share many of the same causes. Identified causes include age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, cataracts, as well as diabetic retinopathy (DR). Note that, low vision can affect people of all ages. While low vision may not automatically lead to incurable blindness, it can make common and everyday tasks like reading, writing, or driving quite taxing.
What could cause low vision?
Low vision may result from a number of causes, including various diseases and injuries that affect the eye, as well as health conditions like diabetes or brain injury. Those with low vision have age-related macular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy. 45% of all cases of low vision are accounted for by age-related macular degeneration. Moreover, around 135 million people all over the world are being challenged by this eye problem.
How will I know if I have low vision?
Any concerns that regards your health, especially your eyes should be examined by an expert. A regular dilated eye exam to examine the health of your eyes is therefore vital. However, there are a number of signs that can also signal vision loss. This should alert you on your current eye condition, as well as encourage you to consider consulting a medical professional to assess your eye health.
Signals that you may consider is your difficulty in recognizing faces of friends and relatives, activities that require you take a closer look at what you are doing, selecting as well as matching the color of your clothes, reading signs while in transit or outside the house. Vision variations in instances as mentioned could be sending early warning signs of eye disease.
With a low vision eye examination an eye expert diagnose conditions that could have led to the eye condition and presents treatment methods you need to consider to correct the eye condition. This particular exam differs from a standard eye exam as it centers on the functional eyesight that is required to accomplish day-to-day tasks. A low vision specialist can create a vision rehabilitation plan that lists strategies as well as assistive devices that will be appropriate for the person with the eye condition to address a particular need.
These tests normally take longer than a standard eye exam. However, they can be tremendously helpful in slowing down or arresting conditions that lead to low vision. As we observe the Low Vision Awareness Month, you or people you know that might have experienced a vision change recently to schedule a complete and thorough eye exam.