Cataracts and Low Vision

Cataract occurs when the lens inside of your eye becomes cloudy due to proteins in the lens breaking down and obstructing your vision. There are various causes for this condition, but the most common is age. Cataract is so common above the age of 60 that approximately half of the American population age 80 or above have cataracts or have had it removed surgically. 

Cataracts and Low Vision in Olympia

Cataract usually begins as a very mild, and sometimes unnoticeable, condition. However over time, cataract begins to affect daily functions and lifestyle and that is usually the indication that it is time to be treated. There is a very safe and effective surgery that removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial lens which provides clear vision. However, there are people who are not eligible to get the operation as it depends on your medical history, what stage of cataract you have and many other factors. If you notice a decrease in the quality of your vision which is affecting your daily living, please schedule an appointment so that your eye doctor can check the health of your eye and if you have developed cataract. You will be assessed if surgery is the right option for you. If you are not eligible for cataract surgery, there is no reason to despair. There is an entire field called low vision that can help you function using your vision that remains. Click here to Book an Appointment for a low vision eye exam today.

American Family Vision Clinic

What to Expect at a Low Vision Eye Exam

Low vision is a field devoted to finding solutions despite a visual impairment that is creating obstacles in the way you live your day to day life. When you come to American Family Vision Clinic for a low vision eye exam, Dr. Levi Zurcher will do a special eye exam that evaluates your remaining vision. You will discuss together which visual tasks you are finding challenging and Dr. Zurcher will then work with you to find solutions that will enable you to accomplish what you set out to do. 

There are a variety of visual aids that can be extremely useful to help you see despite your cataract diagnosis. If you have a family member or caretaker who is instrumental in helping you with your daily needs, it is highly recommended that they attend the appointment as well. It will give them the opportunity to learn more about your visual impairment so that they can understand how it impacts you functionally, enabling them to support you more effectively.

Visual Challenges Due to Cataract

There are characteristic visual impairments caused by cataract which make performing visual tasks very challenging, some include:

  • Decrease in visual acuity
  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Low contrast sensitivity 
  • Glare 
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Dull appearance of colors

All of these visual challenges can make it very difficult for a person with cataract to function and accomplish tasks like they used to, prior to developing cataract. The field of low vision offers many solutions and visual aids to allow a person with cataract to reclaim their independence.

Visual Challenges Due to Cataract
Low Vision Aids for Cataract

Low Vision Aids for Cataract

After the low vision eye exam, Dr. Levi Zurcher will discuss various professional solutions with you using low vision aids. The visual aids range from simple household products, to special glasses and electronic devices. There are so many possibilities of low vision aids that can help you increase your quality of life and some examples will be discussed here. 

There are many different types of magnifying glasses, such as handheld, standing or spectacle form and they can assist you to zoom in on what you’re trying to read or work on so that you can see better. There are filters which can improve vision for a person with cataract by increasing contrast sensitivity and reducing glare. Even people who were able to undergo cataract surgery can still suffer from glare and special polarizing filters can help fix that. E-scoop glasses are a wonderful low vision aid for people who have early stage cataract as it includes many optical features that can help you reclaim your independence despite the vision loss you are experiencing. 

Low Vision Aids for Cataract

A device called a CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) has been created to enable you to scan what you’re trying to read onto a screen and it enlarges the text and can provide various features, including better contrast, to help you see better. There are companies inventing cutting edge technology, each offering their own unique visual experience which enhances your vision and some of these include OrCam, IrisVision or eSight, just to name a few. In addition to the visual aids, properly adjusting the lighting in your home under the guidance of a professional low vision optometrist can really make an impact on how you see. Additionally, there are some simple assistive tools, such as placing rubbery adhesive bumps, known as tactile dots, on different flat buttons around your home to help you find the buttons easier. Dr. Levi Zurcher  will be happy to answer all of your questions and to find the best visual aids for you so that you can reclaim your independence and achieve what you set out to do.

What is Cataract?

In order to understand how low vision can change lives for the better after being diagnosed with cataract, it is essential to understand this eye condition and to know what to look out for. To learn more about the different kinds of cataract and for more information, click here.

Visual Challenges Due to Cataract

Common Questions

If you have cataracts and you feel that all doors leading to regaining clear vision have been shut due to the fact that you are not eligible for cataract surgery, we are here to open windows for you using low vision care. Despite your visual impairment, there are many solutions that can help you use your remaining vision in order to achieve tasks and enjoy daily life.
There are so many visual aids that have been created for your benefit and a low vision optometrist can help you find the best solutions for you and your lifestyle. Improving the lighting in your home or work space, under professional guidance, can dramatically increase your quality of life. There are also magnifying glasses and telescopes you can use to help you. There is something called E-scoop glasses which have different optical features that can enable you to see better in the early stages of cataract. A device called a CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) has been created to enable you to scan what you’re reading onto a screen and it offers various features, such as enlarging the text and providing better contrast. There is cutting edge technology that has been invented to help people with visual impairments be able to see what they previously struggled to see. Please don’t suffer alone, there are so many low vision tools that can help you reclaim your independence despite being diagnosed with cataract.
Cataracts and Low Vision
Dr. Zurcher cartoon


Cataract is a common eye condition which causes the transparent lens inside of your eye to turn cloudy, preventing clear vision. It is the leading cause for blindness worldwide, however there is an entire field of low vision dedicated to improving your quality of life by making visual tasks easier, despite your cataract diagnosis. To schedule a low vision eye exam, call (360) 491-2121 or click here Book an Appointment . Patients with low vision visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of low vision services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.


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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