This month is low vision awareness month which means pull our your super cool magnifiers and turn up that contrast to learn a little bit more about low vision and how it effects children.
Low vision is the term used when a person’s vision deficit cannot be fully corrected. People with low vision are not blind (though some can be considered legally blind) and they usually retain some useful vision. A person with low vision often has a hard time seeing anything far way and also difficulty with fine print up close. Low vision in children can be the result a more pervasive condition, like pediatric cataracts, pediatric glaucoma, nystagmus or optic nerve abnormalities.
It is important to note, that for patients who have blurry vision, but can be prescribed glasses which allow them to see 20/20 – they technically do not fall in the category of a low vision patient.
For children with low vision, treatment is not about finding a cure, but about condition management. This means, finding and learning new ways to accomplish the tasks of daily and school life. In this way, early intervention in a child’s life is vitally important to their development and socialization and should be coordinated with parents, teachers, and ophthalmology professionals.
What are the signs of low vision?
Some signs of low vision include:
- Difficulty recognizing familiar faces
- Difficulty reading
- Difficulty seeing objects that are potential hazards such as steps, curbs, and walls
What is a low vision exam?
A low vision exam is very similar to a pediatric medical eye exam. Often, we test the same things: visual acuity, refractive error, alignment, etc; for a child with low vision, your ophthalmologist may include a color vision test and visual field test (depending on the child’s age). What is important is that the exam is conducted by a qualified medical professional who is knowledgeable about the diagnosis and treatment of children with low vision.
What treatments are available?
There are several options for children with low vision to be successful. Foundationally, glasses and/or contacts may be recommended to help the child’s overall vision. Magnifiers and tinted lenses may also aid a child with low vision. In addition, there are also several non-ophthalmic tools and devices that aid children; these include large print books, closed circuit TVs, and other adaptive technologies for alternative learning.