Low Vision Awareness Month

Phoenix OptometristFebruary is the time to observe Low Vision Awareness Month. Here is some information to help you better understand this condition.

What Is Low Vision?

The term “low vision” refers to sight that cannot be corrected with glasses, surgery or medication. This condition makes even everyday activities such as cooking, shopping or watching TV a serious challenge.

What Causes Low Vision?

A major cause of low vision is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). As many as 15 million people over the age of 50 suffer from this condition which affects the macula, the part of your eye responsible for sharp detail. Other cases of low vision result from glaucoma, cataracts or diabetic retinopathy. Some individuals are born with low vision due to optic nerve damage.

It’s important to emphasize that low vision does not mean the normal changes in eyesight that come with aging. Low vision can affect people of any age. If you have a hard time seeing clearly even with glasses or contact lenses, you should be tested.

How Is Low Vision Detected?

Your Phoenix optometrist can conduct a low vision examination. This procedure takes into account your daily functions and whether or not your vision is at a level to comfortably accommodate those activities. A yearly exam increases the chances of early detection, which is key to successful treatment. Thanks to medical advances, people with low vision are able to lead full, productive lives. Schedule an appointment with your Phoenix optometrist to learn more about low vision and proper care of your eyes.

Vision And Nighttime Driving

Driving at night is one of the most dangerous things you can do with your eyes.

Eye_DoctorsIn fact, according to government statistics, you are three times as likely to be involved in a fatal accident when driving at night. While there are multiple reasons for this, including a higher instance of drunk-driving, nighttime vision problems are one of the major contributing factors!

Common Vision Problems Affecting Nighttime Driving

1 – Blurred or Double Vision

As a person ages, their eyes’ ability to adjust to low-light conditions will slowly degrade. This often results in two eyes that react differently to the same light levels, or whose pupils don’t dilate to the same size. This will cause one eye to see better than the other, creating blurred vision.

Astigmatism is another contribution, as the ability to distinguish parallel lines is necessary for low-light vision. Either way, corrective lenses from certified eye doctors can fix these issues.

2 – Glare or Halos  

At the other end of the spectrum, damage to the iris or cornea can result in eyes that overreact to light at night, creating distracting halos or even painful glare. This also can sometimes happen after LASIK corrective procedures. Worse, sufficient damage to one eye can create glare that affects vision in both eyes.

Treatment is complicated, depending on the nature of the damage. In some cases, corrective lenses can help. In others, surgery may be required to reshape the eye.

3 – Poor Low-Light Reception

In extreme forms, this can be called “night blindness,” and it means what it says. It could even render someone unable to safely drive at night, at all.

In the best-case scenario, it’s caused by vitamin deficiencies. This can be corrected with eating more carrots or spinach. The other most common cause is glaucoma, which is 100% treatable with medication.

Unfortunately, this may also be caused by retinitis pigmentosa, or other degenerative diseases which cannot be entirely halted. Only a consultation with a trained optometrist will tell you for certain.

Don’t Risk Nighttime Vision Problems 

Driving at night is dangerous even under the best conditions, and it can easily become deadly when your vision is impaired. If you experience any visual problems while driving in low-light, we strongly recommend you contact your Phoenix Optometrist for an appointment immediately.

7 Warnings Signs for Vision Problems

Eye problems can strike at any age, with or without warning. Certain medical conditions can increase your risk of developing eye problems, but even healthy people are at risk for vision problems as they age. These warning signs should prompt you to schedule an immediate eye exam.

Increase in Floaters

“Floaters” are a normal occurrence caused by tiny particles of debris in the eye, passing through light. An increase in the quantity of floaters is a warning sign of a detached retina, requiring prompt attention.

Physical Eye Changes

White or cloudy spots over the pupil of your eye are one sign of a cataract. Surgical correction replaces the clouded lens with clear material, and may also improve your overall vision. Staying current with your eye exam schedule will help identify cataracts at an early stage.

Glare or Halo

Glare or halos can around light sources can make nighttime driving miserable. Cataracts could be the cause, but a rainbow colored halo can indicate glaucoma, where increased eye pressure affects the optic nerve and can cause blindness.

Peripheral Vision Changes

The narrowing of your field of vision can happen so gradually that you may not even notice. Glaucoma is one common cause of this problem, but a concussion sometimes presents this symptom. Ischemia, or “eye strokes,” and detached retina can have this effect to some degree as well.

Sudden Vision Loss

This can be a frightening situation, and a serious one. Diabetic retinopathy, in which the blood vessels of the retina are damaged by the effects of the disease can permanently steal your vision. Ischemia is another culprit of this problem.


Intense eye pain can mean the onset of Sudden Acute Glaucoma. During an attack, eye pressure rises suddenly and causes damage to the optic nerve that can result in permanent blindness. This is an emergency condition that requires immediately treatment.

Diminished Colors

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) can cause colors to appear dull and faded and cataracts may cause you to see colors with less distinction. Early detection is the best way to manage AMD, since it can be untreatable, and cataracts can be corrected with surgery.

Your vision is precious and irreplaceable. A regular eye exam can help identify many eye problems before they progress into loss of sight. Contact your eyecare specialist any time you notice unusual symptoms, and don’t miss your yearly appointment.


AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month

Welcome to February, one month closer to spring and an important month in eye health awareness. This month’s call to arms is for AMD, or Age-related Macular Degeneration, and general low vision issues. Understanding what these diseases are and how to manage them may one day save your own sight.

Age-related Macular Degeneration is a devastating condition affecting millions of people, many of whom are unaware that they have it, especially if they neglect their yearly eye exam. Contained within the eye are various components that help you see. One such component is the retina, responsible for transmitting the image to your brain in a way that can be interpreted. The retina includes the macula, specifically responsible for transmitting the central part of the image.

Imagine your field of vision as a person’s photograph. For a person with AMD, the person’s face would appear blurry, wavy, or completely missing. This painless disease occurs so gradually that you may not recognize the problem until your vision has been significantly diminished. Risk factors such as high cholesterol and blood pressure, being overweight, or smoking increase your chance of developing AMD.

Two types of AMD exist: Wet and Dry AMD. In the case of the more commonly occurring Dry AMD, color vision is compromised, caused by a thinning of the retina’s pigment epithelium. Dry AMD may develop into Wet AMD, where fluid or blood is leaked into the macula by malfunctioning blood vessels. Wet AMD is more rare, but more severe. Current technology promotes the use of omega 3’s and lutein to help prevent Wet AMD progression. AMD cannot be cured, but preventive measures may slow progress of the disease. A yearly eye exam is critical to catch AMD early.

Low Vision
Low vision is a catch-all phrase used to describe the effects of diminished sight. Vision reduction may be caused by cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy or detached retina. Some conditions are correctable with surgery, as in the case of cataracts and detached retina, but many destructive eye problems can only be managed. Early detection is the best tactic in fighting low vision.

Every year, eye doctors see even more patients with AMD or low vision. The best advice is to catch issues early during your annual eye exam. Being vigilant about your eye health now could preserve your vision for many more bright and colorful years.