February is Low Vision Awareness Month. According to the National Eye Institute, currently 4.2 million Americans ages 40 and older are visually impaired. Of these, 3 million have low vision. By 2030, when the last baby boomers turn 65, the number of Americans who have visual impairments is projected to reach 7.2 million, with 5 million having low vision.
For the millions of people who currently live or will live with low vision, the good news is that there is help.
But first, what is low vision? Low vision is when even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery, people have difficulty seeing, which makes everyday tasks difficult to do. Activities that used to be simple like reading the mail, shopping, cooking, and writing can become challenging.
Most people with low vision are age 65 or older. The leading causes of vision loss in older adults are age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataract, and glaucoma. Among younger people, vision loss is most often caused by inherited eye conditions, infectious and autoimmune eye diseases, or trauma. For people with low vision, maximizing their remaining sight is key to helping them continue to live safe, productive, and rewarding lives.
The first step is to seek help.
What is a low vision specialist? A low vision specialist is an ophthalmologist or optometrist who works with people who have low vision. A low vision specialist can develop a vision rehabilitation plan that identifies strategies and assistive devices appropriate for the person’s particular needs.
Vision rehabilitation can include the following:
- Training to use magnifying and adaptive devices
- Teaching new daily living skills to remain safe and live independently
- Developing strategies to navigate around the home and in public
- Providing resources and support
Lighthouse Guild offers a broad range of vision rehabilitation services that help people of all ages gain the skills and confidence to meet the day-to-day challenges of life. While vision rehabilitation cannot restore lost sight, it can help to maximize any existing sight or, for individuals with no vision, it can provide the techniques to maintain an independent lifestyle.
By providing a full spectrum of integrated vision and healthcare services, Lighthouse Guild helps people who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities or chronic medical conditions, lead productive, dignified and fulfilling lives.
For services in the greater New York area, contact Lighthouse Guild’s Vision Rehabilitation Center or call 800-284-4422