When ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses cannot provide good sight, an individual is said to have low vision. This condition should not be confused with blindness. People with low vision still have useful vision, which can often be improved with aids.
Although most often experienced by the elderly, people of all ages may be affected by low vision. It can occur from birth defects, inherited diseases, injuries, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetes and aging. The most common cause is macular degeneration, which is usually seen in the elderly.
Low vision is most commonly reduced central vision, however it may also result from decreased side vision, a reduction of color vision, or the eye's inability to properly adjust to light.
Low vision aids are devices, which help improve vision. There are two types of aids, optical and non-optical. Optical aids use lenses to provide magnification. These are not standard eyeglasses, but rather magnifying spectacles, hand or stand magnifiers, telescopes and closed-circuit television. Non optical low vision aids include large print books, newspapers, magazines, playing cards, enlarged telephone dials and many more. Auditory aids such as machines that talk are also available.