Low vision is a term that refers to vision 20/70 or worse that cannot be fully corrected by glasses or contact lenses. People with low vision fall into two groups: partially sighted (meaning they have a visual acuity between 20/70 and 20/200 with the aid of corrective lenses), or legally blind (meaning vision is no better than 20/200 with regular correction aids).

What Causes Low Vision?

The most common cause for low vision in older adults is macular degeneration, a disease of the sensory retina. However, there are a wide variety of causes of low vision, including:

  • Birth defects

  • Inherited diseases

  • Injuries

  • Diabetes

  • Glaucoma

  • Cataract

  • Aging

Symptoms of Low Vision

A thorough eye examination is needed to diagnose causes of low vision. People with low vision may experience the following symptoms:

  • Loss of central vision

  • Night blindness

  • Loss of peripheral vision

  • Blurred vision

  • Hazy vision

Treatments for Low Vision

Low vision cannot be fully corrected. However, there are a wide array of devices to help people with low vision, including magnifiers and reading prisms, large-print reading materials, high-contrast watches, and machines that talk.