Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Common forms of low vision

There are many degrees of visual impairment, ranging from complete blindness to mild vision loss that can be corrected with glasses. During an appointment with your optometrist, he or she may test your eyes for several types of low vision. According to the American Optometric Association, these include reduced central vision, reduced peripheral vision, blurred vision, generalized haze, extreme sensitivity to light, and night blindness.

Each type of low vision has a different effect on your sight. For example, a loss of your central vision creates a blind spot in front of you but leaves your peripheral, or side, vision intact. While this can make it difficult to read or recognize faces, it does not usually affect your mobility. On the other hand, a loss in your peripheral vision can make it difficult to walk, drive or read because you cannot see anything above, below, or to the side of your eye level. Commonly described as “tunnel vision,” this type of low vision restricts your sight to that which is directly in front of you.

Two additional types, blurred vision and generalized haze, both make sight difficult due to visual distortion. People with blurred vision cannot focus on either near or far objects, even with corrective lenses. And for those with generalized haze, everything appears to be under a film or glare. Finally, vision can also be affected by light and darkness. People who have extreme light sensitivity often feel pain or discomfort in lighted areas. Even regularly lit rooms can cause images to glare or appear washed out. Conversely, people with night blindness have trouble seeing in dimly lit spaces, including dark restaurants and theaters, as well as outside at night. Both types of light sensitivity make it difficult for people to drive cars and often require special accommodations.

If you think you may have any of the above conditions, it is important to schedule an appointment with an optometrist on your True Care Advantage plan. He or she will conduct a comprehensive visual acuity examination and identify any existing low-vision issues. The doctor can give you information about adapting to low vision at home and may also suggest participation in low-vision rehabilitation, which has helped many people across the country. Contact your optometrist’s office to learn more.

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