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Having low vision can make activities like reading, shopping, cooking, writing, and watching TV hard to do. Low vision is a visual impairment that cannot be fully corrected by standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery. However, vision rehabilitation can help people with vision loss to maximize their remaining vision and maintain their independence and quality of life. Be in the know and get checked today!
“What exactly is low vision?” you may ask. Low vision is a term commonly used to mean partial or sight that isn’t fully correctable with surgery, medications, contact lenses, or glasses. In Jamaica, the most common causes of low vision are age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy. People can also be born with conditions such as albinism or optic nerve damage that can result in low vision. Low vision can have an impact on people of all ages. Magnification devices, electronic devices, computer-access software, and other access and mainstream technologies are used to help people with low vision maximize their remaining vision or learn alternative ways to do things, such as using their sense of touch or their sense of hearing.
In observance of Low Vision Awareness Month, we encourage everyone to have a complete eye exam from a licensed optometrist. Getting a yearly exam increases the chances of early detection and diagnosis of conditions that may lead to vision loss. If you or someone you know has experienced significant vision loss, I encourage you to have a low vision examination.
A low vision examination is quite different from the basic examination routinely performed by primary care optometrists. A low vision examination includes a review of your visual and medical history, and places an emphasis on the vision needed to read, cook, work, study, travel, and perform and enjoy other common activities. The goals of a low vision exam include assessing the functional needs, capabilities, and limitations of your vision, assessing ocular and systemic diseases, and evaluating and prescribing low vision therapies. Education and counseling of family and other care providers; providing an understanding of your visual functioning to aid educators, vocational counselors, employers directing further evaluations and treatments by other vision rehabilitation professionals; and making appropriate referrals for medical intervention are all a part of a low vision evaluation.
The low vision examination takes much longer than a typical eye exam, but the information gained can be invaluable. No matter what your visual acuity, it is important to understand any diagnosis you may receive and to keep your eyes as healthy as you possibly can.
-by Lee Huffman, American Foundation for the Blind