Low vision

What is it?

Low Vision is when, after treatment and/or wearing spectacles, you cannot see well enough to read or carry out daily tasks.

You can be referred to a Low Vision Service where your sight can be assessed by a specialist.

If a magnifier or other aid will help, it will be issued on a free loan basis for as long as you need it.
Here in York you can be seen at the hospital or in our clinic at The Wilberforce Trust in Huntington.

You can refer yourself or you can be referred by your GP, optician or any other health care professionals.

Common eye conditions

Four common eye conditions and signs to look out for:

Macular Degeneration

This is damage at the back of the eye.
It tends to be more common in older people but there is a type which affects young people.
You might notice that straight lines look bent, or there is blurring or ‘black blotches’ in your vision.
When you look at something it seems to disappear, but you can still see things ‘out of the corner of your eye’.
Some people experience hallucinations, seeing things they know are not real. This is because the brain is trying to make sense of the distorted information the eyes are sending to it.
Extra light may help.
There is no pain associated with this.
If it is identified early enough there may be treatment to reduce further loss of vision.
It can develop quite quickly, or very slowly over time.


This is when the lens at the front of the eye becomes cloudy.
Everything you see can seem ‘fuzzy’ and this doesn’t change when you try to rub it away.
Bright light or glare is uncomfortable and reduces what you can see. Bright colours seem faded.
There is no pain associated with this, it can develop very gradually.
It can be treated by removing the damaged lens and replacing it with a clear one.


This is part of a group of eye conditions where the pressure becomes raised inside the eye.
It can be very painful and cause headaches or have no symptoms at all.
Vision tends to be affected at the edges first and it is not so easily noticed.
You might experience ‘flashing lights’ or a ‘halo’ effect around lights.
Treatment and monitoring can prevent loss of sight.
If diagnosed, you and close relatives are entitled to free eye tests.


Diabetic Sight Problems 

If you are diabetic, you will have your vision monitored and checked regularly.
Damage is caused to the back of the eye by persistently high levels of sugar in your blood which can damage the blood vessels, nerves and organs it comes into contact with.
This can be seen at the back of your eyes by the optician when they carry out an eye test.
You might experience a ‘patchy’ loss of vision and this can lead to total blindness if untreated.

If you have any concerns at all, go to see an optician or your GP as soon as possible.


 There is no one right way to communicate with someone who has a visual or hearing impairment. Everyone is different. Every one is unique. The person, situation and environment can all affect how communication will work. There is not a one glove fits all answer.

The key is to adapt to the persons needs. Whether it’s adjusting the lighting, speaking clearly and repeating yourself, using large print or using written communication find out what works best for them. The best communication can vary from person to person. Here are some communication methods which are used widely.


Braille is a tactile reading and writing system. It uses raised dots to represent letters and words. Each Braille letter of the alphabet or another symbol, such as a comma, is formed by using one or more of the 6 dots that are contained in the Braille cell. There are different forms of Braille. Non-Contracted (Grade One) Braille writes out each letter and word exactly as it is spelt out in print. Contracted Braille (Grade Two) condenses letters to use just one Braille cell to represent the entire word.

Using Technology

There are now many new and exciting technologies available to help communication. There are personal assistants that can ease many day to day tasks. Amazon Alexa range of products and the Google Home items all can help with a variety of tasks. Communication and daily tasks could be done using a smart phone, a tablet, laptop, computer and other technology devices. We have a specialist at The Wilberforce Trust who can assist in helping you try, choose or set up a device that you may have.