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Myopia Concept. Elderly woman squinting while looking at smartphone screen
Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “low vision,” but you aren’t sure what it means. Low vision is how eye doctors describe certain visual issues that cannot be fixed with corrective lenses or medicines. Low vision does not necessarily mean blindness, but it does mean there are issues with the eyes that permanently affect the way a patient will see.

What Can Cause Low Vision?

There is a range of eye diseases and eye conditions that lead to low vision development. These conditions include:


Cataracts impact your eye’s lens, causing it to become cloudy. They can affect either or both eyes and usually show symptoms in later years (around or after age 60). Cataracts tend to develop as a natural part of the aging process and are more prominent in people who:

  • Consume alcohol excessively
  • Have a family history of cataracts
  • Live among heavy air pollution
  • Smoke

Childhood Eye Disorders

Sometimes people develop low vision at an early age. Children with significant visual impairment often experience conditions like:

  • Abnormalities in the retina or optic nerve
  • Congenital cataracts
  • Eye trauma
  • Pediatric glaucoma
  • Severe nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a rare symptom of diabetes that leads to visual impairment or even total blindness in patients. When blood sugar is high and poorly managed, the retina can experience damage over time. Unfortunately, retinal damage leads to low vision.


Glaucoma disease causes pressure to build in the eye and damages the retinal and optic nerves. The pressure stems from complications with the eye’s drainage system. Without the eyes’ ability to drain properly, pressure forms and leads to peripheral vision loss.

Injury to the Eyes

There are endless ways to injure the eye. Chemical exposure, foreign-object exposure, and blunt trauma are some of the major ways a person can damage their eyes and experience low vision as a result.

Macular Degeneration

The macula is a part of the retina in the back of the eye that controls how we interpret light, color, and the finer details in our vision. When a person’s macula experiences damage, they develop permanent spots in their central vision. There are two main types of macular degeneration, wet and dry, and this disease can affect either one or both eyes simultaneously.

Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa is a rare genetic disorder that causes the retina to gradually break down over time. Without proper function of the retina, a person will experience permanent low vision. Usually, patients do not develop complete blindness. However, the degeneration often causes poor vision in low light, as well as tunnel vision.

In many cases, the causes of low vision can be caught and rectified in the early stages before they develop into serious or permanent conditions. Protect the health of your eyes and vision by scheduling an appointment with Eyesight Associates today: 478-923-5872

Thank you for checking out part 1 of our 5-part blog series on Low Vision. Our next four articles will be:

  • Low Vision Blog Series, Part 2: Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration
  • Low Vision Blog Series, Part 3: Types of Glaucoma
  • Low Vision Blog Series, Part 4: Signs of Cataracts
  • Low Vision Blog Series, Part 5: Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy