Low vision is a term used to describe visual impairment that cannot be corrected through traditional means such as glasses, contact lenses, surgery, or medication. It often results in partial sight, such as tunnel vision, blurred vision, or blind spots. Though it can affect people of any age, it is most commonly seen in older adults. It’s important to note that low vision is not the same as blindness, as individuals with low vision still have some level of usable sight. In this discussion, we will take a closer look at the common causes of low vision, including the importance of early diagnosis and regular eye check-ups to prevent further vision loss. We will also explore the symptoms and risk factors of each condition. Here are some of the reasons for low vision:
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition that affects older adults. It causes damage to the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision. There are two types of AMD: dry and wet. Dry AMD symptoms include blurred vision, difficulty seeing fine details, and a gradual loss of central vision. Wet AMD symptoms include sudden or rapid loss of central vision, distorted vision, and a dark or empty area in the center of vision. Risk factors for AMD include age (over 50), smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and a family history of AMD.
- Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. The most common type is open-angle glaucoma, which has no early symptoms and causes gradual peripheral vision loss. Angle-closure glaucoma is less common but more severe, causing symptoms such as severe headache, blurred vision, and halos around lights. Risk factors for glaucoma include age, family history, certain ethnicities, high intraocular pressure, and certain chronic eye conditions.
- Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the blood vessels in the retina and can cause vision loss or blindness. Symptoms include blurred vision, difficulty seeing colors, and vision loss. Risk factors include the duration of diabetes, uncontrolled blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pregnancy, and smoking. People with diabetes should have regular eye exams.
- Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which can cause vision loss. Symptoms include blurred vision, glare and halos around lights, double vision in one eye, fading or yellowing of colors, and frequent changes in eyeglass prescription. Risk factors include age, exposure to UV radiation, smoking, diabetes, prolonged use of corticosteroids, and previous eye injury or surgery.
- Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a genetic disorder that affects the retina, causing progressive vision loss, including night blindness and a gradual loss of peripheral vision. Risk factors include family history and certain genetic mutations. Vitamin A supplements, low vision aids, and regular eye exams can help with daily activities and monitoring the progression of the disease. Early diagnosis and genetic counseling can also help individuals and families affected by RP plan for the future and potentially participate in clinical trials for new treatments.
- Optic neuritis is inflammation of the optic nerve, which can cause vision loss, typically in one eye. It can be a symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS) or occur on its own. Symptoms include sudden vision loss, pain with eye movement, dulled colors, and reduced visual acuity. Risk factors include a family history of MS, viral infections, and autoimmune diseases.
- Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition characterized by the cornea becoming thin and bulging outward. This leads to distorted vision, glare, halos, and increased light sensitivity. Symptoms include blurred vision, distorted vision, sensitivity to light, glare, halos, and frequent changes in eyeglass prescription. Risk factors include family history, certain genetic disorders, and eye rubbing. Treatment options include eyeglasses or contact lenses, corneal collagen crosslinking, small plastic inserts (Intacs) to reshape the cornea, and corneal transplant surgery.
- Corneal diseases are conditions that affect the clear, outer layer of the eye known as the cornea. Symptoms include pain, redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity, watery eyes, and a cloudy or distorted appearance of the cornea. Risk factors include UV exposure, certain medical conditions, chronic eye rubbing, previous eye surgery or injury, and certain medications.
- Eye injuries can cause loss of vision in a variety of ways. Physical trauma to the eye, such as a blow to the head or penetration of an object through the eye, can cause damage to the structures of the eye and result in permanent vision loss. Chemical burns, exposure to high levels of radiation, and certain diseases and infections can also cause damage to the eye and lead to vision loss. Additionally, certain types of eye injuries, such as retinal detachment, can cause progressive vision loss if not treated promptly. To prevent vision loss from eye injuries, it is important to wear protective gear and to seek prompt medical attention if an injury occurs.
It’s important to note that low vision can be caused by multiple factors, sometimes it’s a combination of the above-mentioned causes.
A regular eye check-up and early diagnosis are important to prevent vision loss and blindness, and to maintain your vision. Opticians play a crucial role in finding solutions for low vision by conducting eye exams, recommending and fitting appropriate low vision aids, adjusting and maintaining low vision devices, providing training and instruction on how to use them, and referring patients to other specialists as necessary. At City Optik, our experienced experts guide patients on how to address low vision once it has been identified. We have years of expertise with many branches across Kerala including Opticals in Trivandrum, the capital of the state. Our other Opticals in Palakkad, Thalassery, Tirur, and Kozhikode also have extensive eyewear collections with advanced technologies. With proper diagnosis and treatment, individuals with low vision can enhance their visual abilities and maintain independence. City Optik is here to assist you in improving your vision problems. Visit us to learn more.