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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Low Vision

What is low vision?

Low vision means that even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery, people find everyday tasks difficult to do. Reading the mail, shopping, cooking, writing, and seeing the TV can seem challenging. Most people develop low vision because of eye diseases and health conditions like macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetes. There are many signs that can signal vision loss. For example, even with your regular glasses, do you have difficulty:

  • recognizing faces of friends and relatives?
  • doing things that require you to see well up close?
  • doing things at work or home because lights seem dimmer than they used to?
  • reading street and bus signs or the names of stores?

Source: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/lowvision/lowvisiondefined/01.html


  • All about your eyes. Fekrat S. 2006
  • Eavesdropping: a life by ear. Kuusisto S. 2006
  • Long Time, No See. Finke B. 2003
  • Mayo Clinic on Vision and Eye Health. Buettner H. 2002
  • The aging eye. Gordon S. 2001
  • Twilight: losing sight, gaining insight. Grunwald H. 1999

Internet Resources

National Eye Institute
Includes health information and resources related to the eyes and vision, including a quiz about the signs of vision loss and a listing of devices to help those with low vision.
Quiz: Do you have low vision? http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/lowvision/lowvision_quiz.asp

Maintaining Quality of Life with Low Vision
Helpful information provided by the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Low Vision Aids
Simple things you can do on your own to improve your ability to see and products to assist low vision, presented by the Macular Degeneration Partnership.

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS administers a free library program of braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail.


The organizations listed in Internet Resources provide support, education and advocacy.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Health Learning Center at 312-926-5465 or HLC@nmh.org.


Last UpdateMarch 5, 2012