Low Vision

What is Low Vision?

In the UK there is no legal definition of low vision, but the UK Low Vision Services Consensus Group defines it as^1^:

“A person with low vision is one who has an impairment of visual function for whom full remediation is not possible by conventional spectacles, contact lenses or medical intervention and which causes restriction in that person‘s everyday life… This definition includes, but is not limited to, those who are registered blind and partially sighted.”

There are approximately 346, 000 people in England, Scotland and Wales who are registered as having a sight problem. About 80% of people with a visual impairment are over 65 years old and the incidence increases rapidly with age^2^.

Some people with a visual impairment experience visual hallucinations, and may feel uncomfortable talking about it, but generally they are very reassured to hear that it is a very common phenomenon called Charles Bonnet Syndrome^2^. According to research, when the eyes function normally, the images received by the brain prevent it from creating its own pictures, but in the case of sight loss, the brain compensates for the lack of received visual information by supplying previously stored images.


The most common cause for low vision is macular degeneration, a disease of the sensory retina. There is a wide variety of causes for low vision, including:

  • Macular Degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • Hereditary disorders
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Cataract
  • Injuries



  1. 1.  Recommendations for future service delivery in the UK. Low Vision Services Consensus Group Produced and published by Royal National Institute for the Blind Peterborough Registered Charity No. 226227
  2. Low Vision – The Essential Guide for Ophthalmologists. Published by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, Reading


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