Optical filters allow only certain parts of light to pass through which can be a very effective tool for a variety of optical uses, including vision therapy and for our main focus, low vision. There are colorful filters and polarized filters, each serving their own purpose and these features can be combined to make colorful polarized filters. The type of filter that the eye doctor recommends depends on a variety of factors, including the patients’ needs or whether it’s for outdoor or indoor use. By adding this tint to your low vision care, it can enable you to read more clearly, identify people’s faces, avoid falling and other accidents, and overall enhance your lifestyle. 

Filters in Olympia

Color Filter Applications in Low Vision

Filters are available in different colors and are used in different ways, depending on the patient and the light conditions. The color of the filter is used as a selection system, allowing certain colors to pass through while preventing other colors from doing so.  In order to understand filters, it is important to note that there is scientific research behind colors and the way we perceive them. The rainbow as we know it has different colors due to different wavelengths of light (measured in nanometers, as seen below) that is visible to the human eye. Beyond the rainbow there are other wavelengths such as infrared on one end of the spectrum and ultraviolet on the other. You may have heard of filters available in glasses to filter out ultraviolet rays, and this is in order to protect our eyes from harmful wavelengths that are beyond the visible light spectrum.


The visible light spectrum can be seen as follows:


American Family Vision Clinic

Contrast enhancement

Yellow filters are instrumental in increasing contrast between the text or object that you’re looking at and its background. In addition to yellow, orange, amber and other short wavelength colors are used. Due to the fact that yellow is in the middle of the spectrum of visible light, the yellow filter separates between short wavelengths and long wavelengths, thereby increasing the contrast. Yellow tint is also used in Escoop glasses, recommended for people with early stages of age related macular degeneration. To learn more about this visual aid, please click here.

Who can benefit from contrast enhancement?

There are a variety of conditions that can affect contrast sensitivity. The traditional eye chart has good contrast with black letters on a white background, but not everything that we view in day to day life has a stark contrast between the target object or the text we’re reading, and the background around it. Some people have low contrast sensitivity, making it hard to distinguish between what they are reading and what is around it, especially if what they are viewing does not have good contrast to begin with. There are ways that eye doctors test a patient’s contrast sensitivity. One way is giving the patient an eye chart to read off of, which has low contrast between the letters and the background, as seen below:


Who can benefit from contrast enhancement?

There are certain conditions that reduce contrast sensitivity, these include, but are not limited to:

  • Cataract
  • Glaucoma
  • Age related macular degeneration
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Retinitis pigmentosa
  • Optic neuritis
  • Vitreous floaters
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Albinism 
  • Pathological myopia

Each condition will have a different effect on contrast sensitivity and each person will experience that in their own way, however there are certain filters that are good for certain conditions. For example, people with retinitis pigmentosa tend to struggle greatly with contrast sensitivity issues and studies have shown that yellow filters are very helpful for improving their visual abilities, especially in low illumination conditions.

Polaroid Filter Application in Low Vision

Glare Reduction

Polarizing filters are a special type of filter that help reduce glare in patients, preventing discomfort from the effects of glare. Many people complain of glare affecting their daily visual tasks, including people with cataract. It becomes very prevalent when one who suffers from glare is trying to drive, especially at night, and the lights on the road appear as glare. Polaroid filters can prevent accidents and promote safer driving. 

What are polarizing filters?

Polarizing filters block light coming in a horizontal direction, which is usually the direction of light waves that cause glare as it bounces off of bright surfaces such as water, snow or metal. Many people can benefit from polarizing filters, including skiers and people spending time in the sun, however it is recommended in the low vision field for those complaining of glare, including people who have had recently undergone eye surgery, such as cataract surgery.

Who can benefit from contrast enhancement?

Types of Filter Lenses

Lenses with filters are available in different forms in order to use them with your glasses. There are filters available as glasses without prescription lenses. There are also filters that fit over glasses which are ideal for patients who wear prescription glasses but do not need the filter at all times. An additional benefit is that it can fit on top of different frames for people who have more than one pair of glasses. There are clip-on lenses that are easily removable, user friendly, and are customized for a specific pair of frames.

There are also filters that can be incorporated into your glasses. There are different ways of doing this depending on various factors, including the material of your lenses, if they are plastic or glass. There are different features of filters that can be ordered with your glasses, including transitional filters where the tint varies depending on the lighting conditions of your surroundings. You may have seen this with glasses that appear to be regular, but then they become darker and look like sunglasses when you step into bright sunlight conditions.

Dr. Zurcher cartoon


Filters can be a very instrumental tool to help people with low vision see clearer, due to various features such as contrast enhancement or glare reduction. Dr. Zurcher will be able to recommend the right filter for you and for your daily needs. You can click here to schedule your low vision consultation 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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