About Low Vision and Rehabilitation

Picture of family with blurry faces. This photo shows how people with impaired central vision see the world.

What is Low Vision?

Low vision refers to moderate-to-severe vision loss that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery. It affects nearly 14 million Americans and can result from disease or injury to the eye or brain. Low vision may make it difficult to read, recognize faces, watch TV, drive, or see at night.

Common Symptoms and Causes

Loss of central vision: Age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, macular hole, macular edema, macular pucker

Loss of peripheral vision (tunnel vision): Glaucoma, stroke, retinitis pigmentosa

Night blindness: Diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, abetalipoproteinemia

Blurred or hazy vision: Corneal disorders

Glare and loss of contrast: Glaucoma, corneal disorders

Distortion: Age-related macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease

      Adjusting to Life with Low Vision

      It’s normal to feel sad, frustrated, and overwhelmed after learning that your vision loss is irreversible. Support groups may help you develop strategies for coping with the emotional challenges. Vision rehabilitation experts will help you maximize the use of your remaining vision so that you may regain or retain your ability to work, go out on your own, and perform your normal daily activities.

      What is Vision Rehabilitation?

      If you have difficulty performing normal daily activities because of poor vision, your doctor may refer you to a vision rehabilitation service. Specialists can help you maximize your remaining sight. Most vision rehabilitation services offer:

      1. An assessment of your visual function
      2. An evaluation of your ability to perform normal daily activities
      3. Instruction on how to maximize your vision with a variety of devices, techniques, and tips
      4. Counseling and emotional support as you adjust to life with low vision

      Could you benefit from Vision Rehabilitation?

      Vision rehabilitation may help anyone with mild-to-profound vision loss, including blindness. Download our questionnaire [PDF] to see if you may be good candidate.

      Learn about the services at Mass. Eye and Ear