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A person undergoing a low vision examination. The text 'Low vision exam' is displayed in large black characters on a white background to the left of the image.

Low vision, an uncorrectable visual impairment, poses challenges in various aspects of life, including reading, working, and socializing. Conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy (DR), glaucoma, and cataracts contribute to this impairment, affecting different age groups with diverse needs.

Individuals of all ages grappling with low vision can benefit significantly from collaborating with a specialized low-vision optometrist. These professionals assess unique needs and recommend specialized tools, like handheld magnifiers for reading or electronic magnifiers for distance viewing and close-up tasks.

For students and young individuals with visual impairment, classroom accommodations are crucial for accessing the visually intensive world of learning. Adjustments may range from simple measures, such as repositioning closer to the board, to providing tools like reading glasses or bifocal lenses to magnify classroom materials.

Incorporating regular eye exams into your or your child's routine is vital for cultivating a healthy, active lifestyle. Specialized tools and devices recommended during these exams can make activities like reading, writing, recognizing faces, watching TV, or driving a car feasible for those living with low vision.

Schoolgirl in class using Reveal 16 to enlarge a mathematical problem presented on the whiteboard at the front of the classroom.

Types of eye exams

Understanding the difference between a regular eye exam and a low vision exam is essential. Depending on the examination results, an eye care professional may prescribe low-vision glasses or recommend various aids and devices tailored to help you maintain your hobbies and daily activities.

Make the gift of better vision for yourself or your loved ones by learning more about the distinctions and possibilities offered by low vision exams.

Two smiling optometrists. In the background, an eye chart hangs on the wall.

When we think of "eye exams," we often envision routine check-ups with our eye doctor or with an ophthalmologist. While these routine exams play a crucial role in maintaining general health, there's a specialized type of eye exam that goes beyond checking prescriptions – the low vision exam.

General recommendations advise children to undergo a comprehensive eye exam annually, while adults are recommended to have one every two years. These routine visits cover overall eye health and prescription status, regardless of glasses or contact lenses.

In contrast, a low vision exam focuses on functional vision, aiming to help individuals achieve a specific level of visual function and independence for various tasks. Low-vision doctors collaborate with patients to understand their goals, whether related to academics, vocational needs, daily living independence, or personal hobbies.

Key components of a low vision exam include a thorough functional history and a detailed prescription eyewear evaluation. The examination results guide the doctor in determining the most suitable devices or strategies to enhance the patient's visual experience.

A person is with an eye care professional, who demonstrates the functions of explorer 5.

These may include:

  • Strong glasses tailore d for specific tasks
  • Optical magnifiers
  • Telescopes
  • Electronic magnifying systems (such as electronic magnifiers)
  • Accessibility tools for computers and cell phones
  • Task-oriented lighting solutions

Low vision clinics extend their support beyond device recommendations. They also educate patients about community resources, offer mobility training, and provide insights into transportation access.

While age-related diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetes-related complications often lead people to seek low vision services, these clinics also cater to the diverse vision needs of younger individuals and mid-age professionals. Each eye condition is unique, affecting vision differently and potentially limiting activities like reading small print or driving safely.

Low vision exams are highly individualized, addressing a patient's specific needs and goals. As students transition to college, career, and community life after high school, these exams become especially vital. Low-vision tools, including electronic magnifiers, empower young individuals to access work and community activities independently.

A smiling teenager magnifying his A+ test result using Explorer 12.

Low vision tools and solutions

If you or someone you know is diagnosed with vision loss, there are services and products available to help support an independent lifestyle.

Electronic magnifiers are one category of products. There are many different types of electronic magnifiers: some are handheld and small enough to fit in your pocket, while others are designed for placement on a desk or table.

A man uses the explore 5 to enlarge a column of numbers

Digital handheld magnifiers

Image of exploré 5 with the folding handle opened showing the magnifier's on-screen color contrast option of black text on a yellow background.
Image of exploré 8 on its built-in stand showing the white text on a blue background color contrast option to read a newspaper

Handheld magnifiers are generally equipped with a 5 to 8-inch screen. They can magnify an object up to 30 times and display text in contrasting colors for easier reading.

Portable and desktop video magnifiers

The explore 12 with a folding stand that magnifies a map of Europe, used with the portable reading stand to enlarge a crossword puzzle and the carrying bag provided with the device.
The Reveal 16 enlarging a mathematical calculation in a workbook under the camera.

At 12- or 16-inch, portable video magnifiers are a little larger than hand-held devices. They are foldable for carrying and have the capacity to view objects across a room.

With the added size, the 16-inch portable video magnifiers can also include more functions. Some of those functions include optical character recognition (OCR) and text to speech (TTS) technologies that convert printed words into speech.

Seniors playing bingo with one of the people using the explore 12 electronic magnifyer to see the numbers more clearly during the game.

Please visit our product sections to learn more
about our low vision solutions.