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Low vision is partial visual loss that cannot be corrected by surgery or medication. A person with low vision may have:

  • Reduced Visual Acuity 
    This means that you have trouble seeing objects at a certain distance.

  • Reduced Contrast Sensitivity 
    This means that you have trouble seeing differentiating background colours from objects. This may cause difficulty identifying steps, roadside curbs, walls, uneven surfaces and even rice on a white plate.

  • Significantly Obstructed Visual Field
  • People with macular degeneration may have difficulty recognizing faces when they lose their central vision.  Those who have lost their peripheral field (side vision) due to glaucoma or stroke may lose their ability to read and move around independently often bumping into obstacles along their path. They often trip on low-lying furniture and this can lead to serious falls.

People with low vision often find it difficult to carry on with their daily activities independently.   It is not unexpected that some people may feel depressed about their vision loss. They may even wonder if there is something wrong in their minds. Some may experience ‘phantom vision’, that is seeing things that are not actually there (Charles Bonnet Syndrome). People who cannot see well are at a higher risk of injury and falls. They feel stressed venturing out on their own and often become isolated from their previous social network.

What can be done about low vision?

People with low vision have residual useful vision. Vision rehabilitation teaches techniques to utilize this residual vision in new ways to achieve a desired outcome.

Some examples of vision rehabilitation:

  • Helping a person with certain visual loss use suitable low vision optical aids for reading and other activities

  • Helping a person with advanced peripheral visual field loss travel independently and safely (Picture of O and M)

  • Helping to carry out daily chores e.g. cooking, cleaning etc
  • Some examples of vision rehabilitation aids and devices


  • Handheld magnifiers
  • Magnifying spectacles
  • Telescopes
  • Video magnifiers
  • Computer adaptations, for users to enlarge everything on the computer screen, or to listen to what is on the screen
  • Audio book on tapes or CDs
  • Large print books,
  • Tactile markers to improve colour contrast

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