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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Visual Impairment: Treatment & Monitoring

Visual Impairment

Alternate Names : Impaired Vision

Visual Impairment | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the condition?

If a vision impairment occurs, there may be ways to improve sight. Glasses and contact lenses are the most common ways to improve vision. Children with a lazy eye may wear an eye patch on one eye or need surgery to help with weak eye muscles. Therapists who have been trained in vision problems can suggest exercises that may improve some vision problems. Surgery and medication may also be appropriate, as in glaucoma. Those who have cataracts and some other conditions are "cured" or improved by surgery or medications. If vision cannot be improved, training and special devices may help the person adjust to the impairment.

It is possible to live a nearly normal lifestyle with most visual impairments. Many people use eyeglasses or magnifiers so they can still perform certain activities. To function safely, affected people may, however, need to rely on signals other than sight. For example, some lighted signals at a crosswalk also make beeping sounds to indicate when it is safe to cross the street.

People who have severe vision problems or are blind can benefit from special devices and training. A white cane and a guide dog are familiar aids for helping blind people function on their own. Computers are now able to recognize speech and can talk to the person. Keyboards with braille symbols, braille books, and books on audio tape are also available.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Side effects depend on the treatments used. Antibiotics may cause allergic reactions and stomach upset. Medications for glaucoma may cause stinging, blurred vision, eye redness, changes in heart rate, and headaches. Surgery carries a risk of bleeding, infection, and allergic reactions to anesthesia.

What happens after treatment for the condition?

Treatment depends on the cause of the visual impairment. If the visual impairments improve, a person may or may not need further treatment. For example, those with glaucoma need additional treatment and monitoring even if their vision improves. People who are nearsighted may be able to wear glasses or contacts to improve their eyesight and may need no further treatment. Certain tips can help those who live or interact with someone who has a severe visual impairment:

  • There should be enough light available to people with reduced sight.
  • Objects in the person's environment should not be moved without letting the person know. He or she will often "memorize" the environment and need to have things kept in the same place. For example, doors should either be kept fully open or fully closed.
  • If the person is in an unfamiliar place, the location of objects should be described to him or her. Also, the affected person should be told when someone leaves or enters the area.
  • If the person asks for assistance in walking, he or she will usually hold another person's arm just above the elbow and will follow along. The sighted person should alert the person when they are coming near steps, curbs, or other obstacles.
  • How is the condition monitored?

    Those who notice a change in their vision should be seen promptly by a healthcare provider. This may help prevent permanent vision problems.

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    Visual Impairment: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: Karen Preston, PHN, MS, CRRN
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/01/01

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