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Causes and aids

Causes of visual impairment and low vision aids

Low vision may be due to one or more eye conditions: macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataract are some of the most common, but visual impairment may also be caused by diabetes, high myopia, multiple sclerosis, retinitis pigmentosa or albinism. Children may be born with eye problems including glaucoma or macular dystrophies such as Stargardt’s.

There are many different types of low vision aids (LVAs) and one or more may be right for you. If you have macular problems you may benefit from magnifiers whereas other types of aids will help someone with glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa. Cataract patients will appreciate protection from bright light and people with mobility problems may use a cane.

LVAs are generally available through low vision clinics and low vision specialists. LVAs include many different types of magnifiers available with varying amounts of magnification.

Low vision aids

  • 'Bright field' magnifier
  • Stand magnifiers
  • TV spectacles

Visually impaired people may also find tinted over-spectacles helpful. There are many different tints available suitable for different type of eye conditions ie an amber filter which improves contrast or a dark sunglass.

Light is one of the most helpful ways to improve vision, particularly for reading or sewing. Many people find it is easier to read the newspaper in the morning by the window but harder to see at dusk or under low lighting conditions. Choose a low energy fluorescent or daylight lamp which remains cool and can be positioned close to the page.