‘Low’ vision is NOT the tendency to only see what is near to the ground NOR the affliction of having no sense of purpose in life. Low vision describes the spectrum of visual impairment from when regular glasses alone are no longer sufficient for you to see the things you want to see, to just seeing light and dark.
The terms ‘Low vision’ or ‘visual impairment’ are used interchangeably and somewhere along the line we bump into the term ‘blindness’. I will leave it to the academics to decide where that line is. If you cannot see at all then you are ‘definitely blind’, but what if you can see a little bit? You will still need to understand how to cope with not being able to see everything.
There are so many different eye conditions where folk need assistance that it is difficult to define when you are blind. This is why the term ‘low vision’ is useful. A person with tunnel vision may be able to read a book, but probably need a guide dog to be independently mobile, whereas a person with advanced Macular Degeneration may be able to walk around independently, but will require assistive devices for reading a book. In both cases the person has some visual ability and some blindness.
There seems to be quite a lot of knowledge and assistance for the totally blind, but not too much understanding about low vision. For me, the Low vision Service at the Helen Keller Society has been incredibly helpful, excellent at giving support, insight and hope to those losing their sight.
Vision loss is not an end to a functioning life, but the beginning of learning a new way of living.