Q: What is “Low Vision”?
A: The term “low vision” refers to partial sight that cannot be corrected with surgery, drugs, eyeglasses, or contact lenses. The condition can range from having unsatisfactory vision to being nearly blind. The causes of low vision include eye injury, diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and heredity. As a result of reduced visual acuity or decreased contrast sensitivity, low-vision individuals may be unable to fully distinguish colors, see contrasts, or determine spatial relationships among objects. Fortunately, there are a variety of devices and strategies available for helping people with low vision overcome vision loss and live independently.
Q: How does high blood pressure affect vision?
A: High blood pressure alone does not usually affect vision directly, however hypertension is a known risk factor in the onset and/or progression of other eye disease, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration, as well as blocked veins and arteries in the retina or nerves of the eye that can severely affect vision. In malignant hypertension, very high blood pressure can damage organs, and may cause swelling of the macula and acute loss of vision.
Q: How do I tell that I am developing glaucoma?
A: The real tragedy behind vision-stealing glaucoma is that most people afflicted with this eye disease do not even realize they have it. As a result, the condition goes undiagnosed and untreated, which too often leads to unnecessary blindness. Of the 2.7 million people in the United States with glaucoma, half are undiagnosed. Most are lulled into a false sense of confidence because glaucoma often displays no symptoms in its early stages. By the time it begins to affect vision, any lost sight is impossible to regain. The risk of developing glaucoma begins to increase dramatically at midlife, which is why everyone should have a baseline exam by age 40. The most important concern is protecting your sight. Doctors look at many factors before making decisions about your treatment. If your condition is particularly difficult to diagnose or treat, you may be referred to a glaucoma specialist. While glaucoma is most common in middle-aged individuals, the disease can strike at any age, with those having a family history of the disease being especially vulnerable.
Q: What is diabetic retinopathy?
A: Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is an eye disease that can occur at any stage and with any type of diabetes. In fact, sometimes diabetes is identified during an eye exam in a person who never suspected it. It is caused by damage to the very delicate blood vessels within the retina at the back of the eye. As DR progresses, these blood vessels may start to leak blood and fluid into the retina or other areas of the eye, and new vessels may begin to grow within the retina, which can cause vision loss, and sudden complications including internal bleeds and retinal detachment.