At IBVI, we champion the independence of people who are blind or visually impaired. We believe it’s vital that these individuals are able to perform daily tasks comfortably and efficiently. However, the blind and visually impaired are a diverse group of people with differing types of vision conditions that require various solutions.
Because February is Low Vision Awareness Month, we’d like to discuss some of the more common types of low vision. Low vision is uncorrectable vision loss that cannot improve with glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery. It gets in the way of daily activities—everything from getting dressed and commuting to cooking and cleaning. In other words, people with low vision have to navigate life in a completely different way than people without visual impairment.
From central vision and peripheral vision loss to night blindness (or nyctalopia—reduced vision in low light conditions), there’s a wide variety of low vision types that are caused by many factors and conditions. Here are some of the most common types.
Very common the older we get, a cataract is the clouding of the lens for your eye. As time progresses, cataracts can make vision blurry, hazy, or less colorful. Sometimes, they even lead to loss of vision. However, cataracts can also occur in younger adults and children—in these situations, it’s important to treat them before they progress (surgery is the most common option).
Age-related macular degeneration
Losing the sharpness of central vision occurs with age-related macular degeneration (otherwise known as AMD). AMD is when aging causes damage to the macula, the part of the retina that controls straight-forward vision. It occurs in two types—dry and wet. The dry form tends to slowly progress and can be prevented if it’s caught early enough. The wet form is an advanced version and usually results in quicker vision loss, but there are treatment options available.
Those who have either type 1 or 2 diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy—a condition that causes damage to blood vessels in the retina. Since the longer you have diabetes, the more at risk you are for developing diabetic retinopathy, diabetic individuals should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every year. While it’s hard to notice this condition until damage to eyes has already occurred, there are warning signs to look out for: blurred vision, vision loss, floaters, shadows, and difficulty seeing in the dark.
A group of eye diseases that cause vision loss by damaging the optic nerve, Glaucoma is sometimes called “silent thief of sight” because it usually occurs slowly over time and people don’t notice it until some vision is lost. Vision loss typically begins with peripheral vision where it’s difficult to tell anything is changing. If found early, treatment is a viable option to slow it down.
Raising awareness and providing resources
As we strive to educate others about vision loss, it’s important to highlight the resources available to those affected. For those seeking more information, or if this topic of low vision is hitting close to home, there are a few practical steps you can follow.
A simple eye exam is the next best step to take. It can help your doctor or specialist diagnose what type of low vision you may be experiencing. If you or a loved one have noticed any vision difficulties that are preventing you from carrying out your routine daily activities, consider this a “nudge” to schedule an appointment today.
Lastly, we have some community resources available on our site that can help you find the support you need. Through our partnerships, we are able to create a progressive, hopeful environment for the blind and visually impaired. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
Creating opportunities to change lives
At IBVI, we believe in empowering those who are blind or visually impaired by both creating and growing employment opportunities for them. We’re optimistic about future innovations and recent advances in technology, and we’re committed to pursuing solutions that provide upward-mobility opportunities and greater accessibility in the workplace. That’s why, when an IBVI employee asked if we could purchase a new, innovative assistive tool to help their professional development, our team jumped on the chance. Read more about it in this blog post.