What is Low Vision, what causes Low Vision, where can I get help?

What is Low Vision:

Low Vision as defined by The Vision Council, is a term used to refer to a visual impairment that is not correctable through surgery, pharmaceuticals, glasses or contact lenses. It is often characterized by partial sight, such a blurred vision, blind spots, or tunnel vision. Low vision can impact people of all ages, but is primarily associated with older adults.

What causes Low Vision:

• Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD/ARMD): AMD is a leading cause of vision loss among Americans over age 60. It accounts for nearly half of all low vision cases. It is caused when the part of the eye responsible for sharp, straight-on vision – the macula – breaks down and causes a loss of central vision. There are two types of AMD, wet and dry. Wet AMD is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula. Central vision loss occurs rapidly with wet AMD. In dry AMD, light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down, leading to a gradual loss of central vision.

• Diabetic Retinopathy: According to the National Eye Institute, more than 30 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some form of diabetic retinopathy. It is a major cause of blindness and is directly related to high blood sugar, which damages blood vessels. That damage affects the retina and can even lead to its detachment.

• Glaucoma: Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. With glaucoma, portions of vision are lost over time, usually with no warning signs or symptoms prior to vision deterioration. For many, a decrease in peripheral vision is the first sign of glaucoma.

• Cataracts: Over 20 million people in the US alone have cataracts according to Prevent Blindness America. It appears as a clouding of the lens of the eye.

• Retinitis Pigmentosa: This is a group of inherited diseases affecting the retina resulting in progressive vision loss. This type of vision impairment often begins in childhood with poor night vision and progresses over time.

Where can I get help?

In Fairfield & New Haven counties there are 9 Lions Low Vision Centers at your disposal, these centers are in partnership with an established health care facility. These centers are staffed with Occupational Therapist’s (OT) that are specifically trained in helping patients with low vision. Each initial visit begins with an evaluation of your condition and then the OT has a starting point of your specific needs. The evaluation is approximately 1 hour long for your first visit. Your treatment may require a few visits to provide you with the best care. The OT will determine different devices that will assist you with dealing with the amount of eye sight that you have remaining. ALL devices that are given to you during a visit are 100% FREE, however the OT is a staffed person at the medical facility and will bill your insurance for any charges. Depending on your specific insurance you may be required to pay a co-pay for the services that the OT provides.

There are only 4 steps you need to take to receive services from 1 of our Lions Low Vision Centers.
1. Visit your eye care professional.
2. He/She should complete the referral form (available for printing from our website) and fax that form into the center that is closest to your home.
3. You then call that center (phone numbers are on the front side of the referral form) and make an appointment with the OT that does Low Vision evaluations.
4. Go to the scheduled appointment.

Our centers are in the following towns: Bridgeport, Danbury, Derby, Greenwich, Naugatuck, New Haven, North Haven, Southbury, Waterbury. You can get more information at our website: www.lionslowvisioncenter.org