A 20-page large-print booklet and a series of videos to help people adapt to life with low vision are available from the National Eye Institute (NEI), a part of the National Institutes of Health. The materials were released during Low Vision Awareness Month, February 2013.
The booklet, Living with Low Vision: What you should know, urges people with low vision to seek help from a low vision specialist and provides tips to maximize remaining eyesight, enabling them to safely enjoy a productive and rewarding life. The videos feature patient stories about living with low vision. Another video, targeted to health care professionals, emphasizes the importance of informing patients with vision loss about vision rehabilitation services. The booklet and the videos were developed by the NEI National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP).
Low vision means that even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery, people find everyday tasks difficult to do. Reading the mail, shopping, cooking, and writing can seem challenging. The chief causes of vision loss in older people are age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataract, and glaucoma. Among younger Americans, low vision is most often caused by inherited eye conditions, infectious and autoimmune eye disease, or trauma.
A 2012 report cosponsored by the National Institutes of Health estimates that 2.9 million Americans are living with low vision. The number is projected to increase 72 percent by 2030 when the last of the baby boomers turn 65. Most people with low vision are 65 years old or older.
"I encourage anyone with low vision to seek guidance about vision rehabilitation from a low vision specialist," said NEI Director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D. "For many people, vision rehabilitation can improve daily living and overall quality of life."