Degress of Sight Loss


artist, educator, author
Lynda McKinney Lambert

The concept of  Sight Loss or Blindness can be confusing.

I certainly didn’t know much  about it until I experienced it in 2007.  Now, nearly 7 years later, I am learning  not only through my own experiences in adapting to it, but in conversations with other people who want to know about it.  People who know me always ask:

“What do you see?”  

“How do you see?”  

                                                                            “How do you DO that?” 


It’s only natural, people want to understand something that is a mystery to them.


     It  seems that each week, I learn something new. For instance, recently  I learned that my own medical condition would be classified as

“Profound Visual Impairment or Profound Low Vision.”

I am one step above “Near-total Blindness.”

But, the term “blind” applies to all levels.

        At the  level, “Profound Visual Impairment,” I cannot read written  text, regardless of how large it is. Magnifiers do not help me, nor does it help me to shine  a light onto something. In fact, putting a light onto something completely wipes it out. I am light senseiive, and cannot tolerate the light. I have to wear special glasses when I am in a room that is brightly lighted. When I am outdoors on a  sunny day it uncomfortable for me, even with the darkest glasses. I am literally blinded by light, no helped by it.

I found the following information on Low Vision. I have tweaked and edited it for clarity and easier reading. You can visit this site for additional information:

  Total blindness is not considered low vision.

There is still some sight with low vision. It may only be that this person can know if there is light or dark. Low vision is normally associated with people who are “legally blind” and require vision aids.

The American Optometric Association classifies low vision in two categories:

1.) Partially Sighted:
Visual acuity is between 20/70 and 20/200 with conventional prescription lenses.

2.) Legally Blind:
Visual acuity no better than 20/200 with conventional correction and/or a restricted field of vision less than 20 degrees wide.

The World Health Organization classifies visual impairment as:-
20/30 to 20/60: Mild vision loss, or near-normal vision-
20/70 to 20/160: Moderate visual impairment, or moderate low vision-
20/200 to 20/400: Severe visual impairment, or severe low vision-
20/500 to 20/1,000: Profound visual impairment, or profound low vision-
less than 20/1,000: Near-total visual impairment, or near total blindness

Low vision can result from a number of conditions that can include inherited diseases, birth defects, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, strokes, sleep apnea, and physical injuries.

It can also result from such circumstances as diabetes, cancer of the eye, albinism, or a brain injury.

How is Low Vision diagnosed?
Eye care specialists can diagnose low vision by using lighting, magnifiers, and visual testing charts. Low vision is often seen in adults over 45, especially the elderly.

The most common types of low vision include:
– Central Vision Loss: A blind spot in the center of a person’s vision
– Peripheral Vision Loss: Cannot see on either side, above or below eye leve
– Night Blindness: Problems seeing in poorly lit areas
– Blurred Vision: Objects both near and far are blurry. For instance, refractive error is an
eye disease where the shape of the eye does not bend light properly, resulting in a blurry

Common refractive conditions include:
myopia (short sight)
hypermetropia, (long sight)
presbyopia, (aging of the lens)
astigmatism (irregular curvature of the lens.)
-Hazy Vision: Vision appears to be covered with a film or glare.

Signs that may suggest low vision include:
– Not recognizing faces
– Performing activities where you find yourself looking closely such           as when reading,
watching television, or sewing
– Picking out the wrong clothing colors
– Turning on bright lights to see well
– Unable to read street signs

Low vision can often be treated using such aids as hand magnifiers, lenses that filter light, reading prisms, magnifying glasses, telescopic glasses, and closed-circuit television.Non medical aids that can help a person with low vision include talking watches and clocks, text reading software, large print books and magazines, clocks, phones, and watches that have larger numbers…etc.Due to technological developments in the field of low vision rehabilitation, today most people suffering from low vision can be helped to improve the quality of their lives. Visual aids improve both sight and the quality of life for many people.

If you are having problems with your sight, see an eye doctor for testing. Your next step is a visit to the LOW VISION SPECIALIST.

%d bloggers like this: