What Is Low Vision?

Low vision is a medical condition for types of visual impairment where conventional corrective measures such as regular glasses, contact lenses, and surgical or medical treatment cannot adequately correct the deficit. It often presents with the following:

 Loss in visual acuity or "sharpness"

 Visual field loss


 Problems with light sensitivity or perception

 Hazy vision

 Blurred vision

 Loss of peripheral vision which creates a "tunnel vision" effect

Low vision is the result of partial but irreversible visual impairment. A diagnosis does not mean that you are blind. It just means that you have problems that cannot be corrected with conventional interventions, and that you may require vision devices and training to enhance your remaining eyesight. In most instances, a person retains some degree of vision that usually responds well to specialty glasses or other vision aid.

We are here to help you!

Many people with this condition are told by eyecare professionals that there is nothing that can be done to help them. As optometrists with years of experience, we know this isn’t so!

We specialize in low vision care and offer an array of specialty devices and aids such as bioptic telescopes, magnifiers, and non-optical devices that can be used to improve your ability to engage in routine and recreational activities. These include such activities as watching television, reading newspapers, and recognizing people’s faces. Some people are even able to drive!

The important thing to know is that with proper and timely intervention most people are able to enjoy a high quality of life, and to continue to participate in their favorite activities.

Looking Through the Eyes of a Low Vision Patient

Although visual impairment and its impact on daily life varies depending on the condition and how it developed, the pictures below provide good examples of how certain deficits often manifest. (pictures here)

What Causes Low Vision?

There are a variety of diseases, disorders, and types of eye injury affecting the optic nerve that may cause impairment and a diagnosis of low vision. These include types of acute and traumatic brain injury. Medical conditions that are known to cause this condition include age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, corneal diseases, optic nerve atrophy, and strokes. Age-related macular degeneration accounts for almost 45 percent of such cases.

Dr. Zurcher cartoon

Early Detection and Treatment

Most eye conditions and diseases have no early symptoms. And in the case of low vision, standard corrective measures such as contact lenses, specialty glasses, optical and non-optical aids, and surgery don't work. This is why we recommend yearly eye exams with an optometrist, particularly if you have a family history of eye disease. If low vision is detected early enough we can often minimize vision loss.

If you have been told by an optometrist that you have low vision or suspect that you may have this condition, contact us to schedule an eye evaluation, and to discuss the use of different vision aids and devices to improve your quality of life.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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