Problems & Conditions

Problems & Conditions

What is Low Vision?

Low vision refers to a visual impairment that is not correctable through surgery, pharmaceuticals, glasses, or contact lenses. It is rare for teens to suffer from low vision, but it does occur, primarily as a result of birth defects, injuries, or juvenile AMD, also known as Stargardt disease. This condition is often characterized by partial sight, such as blurred vision, blind spots or tunnel vision, but also includes legal blindness. Low vision can impact people of all ages, but it is associated primarily with adults over the age of 60. It is estimated that between 3.5 million to five million people in the U.S. suffer from low vision.

To learn more about low vision, or to locate a low vision specialist near you, visit whatislowvision.org, The Vision Council’s low vision website designed specifically for those suffering from low vision as well as for their caretakers.

The following two conditions are experienced more commonly by older adults, such as teens’ older relatives, but they are still conditions that teens should be familiar with.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease that causes a gradual degeneration of cells that make up the optic nerve which carries visual information from the eye to the brain. As the nerve cells die, vision is slowly lost, usually beginning in the periphery. Often, the vision loss is unnoticeable until a significant amount of nerve damage has occurred. It is uncommon for teens to experience glaucoma. 

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a secondary complication of diabetes and is caused by changes in the retina’s blood vessels, it rarely affects babies or children, but it is found in teens who are diabetic. Small blood vessels swell, leak and hemorrhage into the retina, blurring vision and occasionally leading to blindness. When detected and treated in a timely fashion, significant vision loss can usually be avoided. Approximately 4.1 million Americans with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy. Anyone with diabetes, either type 1 or type 2, is at risk for developing this condition. Yearly eye examinations, at a minimum, are necessary for diabetics, as diabetic retinopathy has no warning signs. Any vision lost to diabetic retinopathy cannot be restored. In these cases, low vision devices can help compensate for the vision that was lost by improving vision.