Your Eye Condition

So, what do we mean by the term ‘low vision’?

A person is said to have low vision when their eyesight is limited or impaired and cannot be corrected with conventional glasses or contact lenses. They have a visual acuity of less than 6/18, or they have a visual field of less than 20 degrees across. People are not legally allowed to drive with these vision measurements. Vision tests are conducted by eye care specialists, who include: optometrists, ophthalmologists and orthoptists. If you have been diagnosed with an eye condition and you have been advised by your eye care specialist that you are still allowed to drive, we can still provide you with information about services that may be of benefit now or in the future, if your vision deteriorates.

RGDT also provides services to people who have lost vision as a result of eye disease or trauma, acquired brain injury, congenital conditions and stroke.

For a list of Low Vision conditions see below.

Do you know the name of your vision condition? Are you comfortable explaining it to others?

The names of some eye conditions are difficult to pronounce and you may be confused by the terminology used by your eye care specialist. Sometimes families and friends may have trouble understanding the impact of your vision loss. RGDT can help explain your eye condition to you and your family using easy to understand terms and can provide links to relevant resources. Our services do not replace a consultation with your eye care specialist, but we can assist people to further understand their diagnosis and prognosis in preparation for the next visit to their eye care specialist.

As part of our services, you may be referred to a Low Vision Clinic (LVC) in Hobart or Launceston. At the LVC, an optometrist experienced in assessing people who have eye conditions that cause low vision will assess your ability to read and determine whether optical and/or video magnification aids could help you. This consultation should be in addition to regular visits to your optometrist, but will provide a valuable opportunity to find out about your eye condition diagnosis, as well as strategies for improving lighting and reducing glare.

For various reasons, some people may prefer not to admit that they have vision impairment and may try to hide it. They may fear becoming a burden on family, being perceived as disabled, or being treated differently by friends, family or work colleagues. Our staff can work through some of these issues with you, if you would like them to. Adjusting to vision loss can be an emotional and stressful process, often made more difficult if your eye condition is untreatable, degenerative or hereditary.

Low Vision Conditions

Vision loss may be caused by disease or trauma affecting the eye and/or the brain.

This is a list of the most common vision conditions:

  • Macular Degeneration (MD) is the name given to a group of degenerative diseases of the retina that cause progressive, painless loss of central vision, affecting the ability to see fine detail, drive, read and recognise faces. For more information refer to www.mdfoundation.com.au
  • Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is slowly destroyed. In some people this damage is due to an increased pressure inside the eye - a result of blockage of the circulation of aqueous, or its drainage. In other patients the damage may be caused by poor blood supply to the vital optic nerve fibres, a weakness in the structure of the nerve, and/or a problem in the health of the nerve fibres themselves. For more information refer to www.glaucoma.org.au
  • Cataract is a cloudy area on the eye’s lens, formed when protein in the lens is damaged and clumps together. The clouding limits the amount and clarity of light passing through the lens to the retina, causing poor vision. There are three forms of cataract. For more information refer to www.cera.org.au (fact sheets)
  • Diabetic Retinopathy is a complication of diabetes mellitus that damages blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye. It commonly affects both eyes and can lead to vision loss if it is not treated. There are three forms of diabetic retinopathy. For more information refer to www.cera.org.au (fact sheets).
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa is the name of a group of inherited retinal dystrophies that cause degeneration of the retina of the eye. The retina, at the back of the eye, is a thin sheet of interconnected nerve cells including the light sensitive cells (rods and cones). It is here that light is converted into electrical signals to the brain where "seeing" takes place. In RP the rod and cone cells degenerate. Depending on the type of RP, the rate of progression varies. There is no cure at this time. For more information refer to www.retinaaustralia.com.au.
  • Homonymous Hemianopia affects the right halves or the left halves of the visual fields of both eyes. Often it is due not to any pathology in the eye itself but to damage to the optic nerve or visual parts of the brain.