According to the National Eye Institute, 4.2 million Americans aged 40 and older are visually impaired. The term low vision is defined as visual impairment that cannot be corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery. Low vision negatively impacts quality of life because it makes daily activities difficult, such as reading, writing, cooking, shopping, house cleaning, and driving. There are also many psychological ramifications of low vision, such as depression, isolation and anxiety.
Low Vision Awareness Month is a time that we can come together and learn more about low vision and its effects on our society. It is also a time that we can provide support to those with low vision and help prevent further vision loss. This process of helping others maximize their existing vision and maintaining quality of life is known as vision rehabilitation. This process may involve helping others:
- Live and move safely in their homes
- Continue to do activities that allow them to be independent such as preparing food, doing yard work, cleaning the home, and taking care of personal hygiene
- Find resources, support and adaptive devices
If you want to be part of this initiative but do not know where to start, you can download, view and share a booklet called Living with Low Vision: Stories of Hope and Independence. After you view it, how about posting the link on social media or sending the digital download to a friend? As we learn more about low vision, we can all become more aware of how it impacts individuals and society as a whole.
Thank you for doing your part to educate yourself and others about low vision. The best way to prevent age-related degenerative eye disease is to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams for yourself and your family members. Degenerative eye diseases can develop slowly and painlessly, so have your eyes examined each year to preserve your vision (Source: NIH).