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Low vision

Low vision is when, even after interventions like glasses, people have difficulty distinguishing objects and/or distances. People with low vision can be helped by changes made to their environment, such as painting the edges of stairs white so they can be seen more easily, or specially made devices. 

Measuring low vision

Eye care specialists measure sight against a standard known as '20/20' vision. This is based on what most people are able to see on a standard eye test chart at a distance of 20 feet (in metres this is called 6/6 vision). If you can read the chart at 20 feet you have 20/20 or 'normal' vision.

The range of low vision

  • In mild cases of low vision, someone looking at a standard eye chart from 6 feet away will see what somebody with 'normal' or 20/20 vision sees from 18 feet away.
  • In extreme cases, low vision means that a person standing 3 feet from the eye chart will see the equivalent of what a person with 'normal' vision will see from 60 feet away.
  • If someone's sight is any worse than this, they are classified as blind.

Our low vision work

People with low vision are often treated as blind, due to a lack of proper diagnosis. However, with assistance, people with low vision are able to carry out many visual tasks.

  • Our partners train eye care workers to diagnose people who have low vision.
  • We also support the training of rehabilitation workers and special education teachers in how to provide practical support.
  • We provide the tools and equipment needed for someone with low vision to adapt to their environment.

Low vision aids

The types of low vision aids Sightsavers is able to supply through our projects are as follows:

  • Hand held magnifying glasses to allow people to read things close up.
  • Small telescopes to allow people to see things at a distance. These can be really useful in the classroom, when children with low vision would otherwise struggle to read the blackboard.
  • Tilted reading and writing stands, meaning people don’t have to bend over flat desks to read text close up.

What do you think?

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Please note that as we are not registered medical practitioners and do not directly deliver eye care in the countries in which we work, but work with local partners, we are not able to respond to any questions regarding medical issues. Please contact your health service provider for medical advice.


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