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Low Vision


Low Vision

Low vision is a term commonly used among eyecare professionals to mean partial sight, or sight that isn't fully correctable with surgery, pharmaceuticals, contact lenses or glasses. Low vision includes moderate vision impairment, such as tunnel vision or blind spots. It also includes legal blindness and almost total blindness.

Low vision has a variety of causes, including eye injury, diseases and heredity. Sometimes low vision involves a lack of acuity, meaning that objects do not come into focus. Other times, it involves the ability to distinguish colors, see contrasts or determine spatial relationships among objects.

Many people with low vision already have an eye doctor who is treating them for injury or a disease such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, or retinitis pigmentosa. If you have had vision loss and are dealing with partial sight every day, ask your doctor about magnifiers and other low vision devices that can help you read and function independently.
If your doctor doesn't specialize in low vision, he or she may need to refer you to a doctor  who specializes in prescribing low vision devices and can train you to use them in everyday situations.

One source of low vision doctors is Lighthouse International, which you can call at (800) 829-0500 (select option for "Information"). Or e-mail them at info@lighthouse.org.

Once you find a low vision specialist, who pays for the services, as well as the low vision devices? In most cases, you do.
Currently, Medicare covers vision rehabilitation services only in some states. Another option is a program through EyeCare America, which is a public service foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. EyeCare America has several programs designed to meet the needs of those who do not have eyecare insurance. Qualifying individuals will receive a comprehensive eye examination and treatment for up to one year, at no cost.
To find out more about EyeCare America's programs, call 800- 222- EYES (3937). If you are eligible, you will receive the name of a volunteer doctor in your community, along with instructions for making an appointment.

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