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Low Vision Assessment and Management

Low vision refers to a permanent visual impairment that is not correctable either through medical intervention (i.e. surgery), glasses or contact lenses.

This can occur at any age, be a total or partial loss (i.e. blind spots), cause distortions or double vision, and/or central or peripheral vision impairments. These impairments cause significant difficulties with day-to-day activities like reading, writing, driving etc. Legal blindness is included in this category as the most severe form of visual impairment.

Low vision can be caused by many conditions including age-related macula degeneration, glaucoma, diabetes, trauma or congenital (genetic conditions that one can be born with). Large medical advances in technology has improved our ability to treat many of these conditions; however, not all vision loss can be avoided. When conventional optical (spectacles or contact lenses) and medical (surgical or pharmaceutical) interventions do not correct the visual impairment, other means of aid is sought to help cope with daily life.

Low vision ‘treatment’ is not a cure. It is using a variety of aids (like optical, digital, mobility and audio) to utilise the remaining vision in everyday tasks. It often involves multiple devices to achieve such things as reading, watching television and shopping amongst other things. These devices usually include increased magnification, lighting and contrast to make reading or fine details easier to see. In other technological developments, text-to-speech and high-resolution digital magnification are becoming increasingly popular and accessible.

As each person’s needs and lifestyle requirements are individual, an assessment by a low vision optometrist will help identify the areas of need and solutions to address these needs. It is also practicable to see these aids in action and an in-office demonstration will help patients and caregivers an idea of how it may be used within their home environment.

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My Health 1st Optometry Australia Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists College of Optometrists in Vision Development Orthokeratology Society of Oceania Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency Good Vision for Life