ABOUT LOW VISION
Imagine not being able to look at photographs of your children-or read the labels on a medicine bottle. For people with low vision, everyday tasks can become difficult and frustrating, and simple eyeglasses may not be enough. But the unique UAB Low Vision Clinic can help clear things up through a variety of innovative patient services.
A person with low vision has reduced visual clarity and/or restricted fields of vision that cannot be corrected with conventional eyeglasses. People with low vision may be identified as partially sighted, visually impaired, or legally blind.
Approximately 60,000 Alabamians have low vision. It is a problem that affects people of all ages and backgrounds-men and women, black and white, healthy people and those with chronic health problems.
Common causes include age-related macular degeneration (changes in the retina), diabetic retinopathy (a retinal disorder linked with diabetes), and glaucoma (a group of eye diseases often caused by increased pressure inside the eye). Low vision may also be inherited or the result of an accident or disease.
Low Vision Aids
The clinic doctors typically prescribe optical aids that use magnification, which is the most important and effective method of improving visual function for people with low vision. A variety of both optical and nonoptical aids provide magnification.
Optical aids include special lenses or lens systems. A common magnifying glass is one example; other optical aids may involve a miniature telescope built into eyeglasses. Special optical aids can be designed for seeing objects up close or in the distance.
Nonoptical aids include books with large type, wide-tip writing pens, and similar items.
While the healthy human eye can perform many tasks and perceive things at many distances, low vision aids may be task-specific. That means that a patient may require more than one optical aid to meet all of his or her visual needs.
Low vision aids cannot restore vision, but they do allow people to use their remaining vision as effectively and efficiently as possible.