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Low vision assessment

A comprehensive eye assessment for persistent vision problems

An ophthalmologist conducting a low vision assessment on a patient, next to some eye examination equipment
A low vision assessment is a type of comprehensive eye assessment to identify problems with your vision and provide solutions to help optimise your vision. It includes a functional eye examination that focuses on your individual needs and how your low vision impacts your life and ability to perform daily tasks.

At Circle Health Group, we have a network of talented eye specialists that can help you to understand your vision problems and find the best treatment for your individual circumstances. Call or book online today to arrange an appointment to discuss a private low vision assessment with a consultant of your choice at one of our 50+ UK hospitals.

This page explains what a low vision assessment is, who may need one and what happens during the procedure.

Why might I need a low vision assessment?

Your consultant may recommend a low vision assessment if you have difficulty with your vision that cannot be corrected with prescription lenses or surgery.

What are the benefits of a low vision assessment?

The main benefits of a low vision assessment are that it can identify specific problems with your vision and recommend low vision aids and techniques to make daily activities easier. This can greatly improve your self-esteem, quality of life, confidence, and independence.

Low vision is when you have difficulty with your vision despite treatment such as prescription glasses or contact lenses, surgery, or medication.

Low vision can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks like reading, shopping and cooking. People with low vision may also have problems recognising faces, reading signs, or picking out clothes that match.

It may be caused by eye conditions such as:

Low vision can affect different people in different ways. It may cause:

  • Loss of central vision - where you can see around the edges, but not the centre of your vision
  • Loss of peripheral vision - where your central vision is clear, but the outer parts of your vision are affected
  • Blurred vision
  • Night blindness - when you find it difficult to see in low light
  • Contrast sensitivity - where you find it difficult to make out colours, shading and patterns
  • Glare sensitivity - where exposure to normal volumes of light creates glare causing visual problems

Everything you need to do to prepare for your low vision assessment will be in your hospital appointment letter. If there's anything you're not sure about, or if you have any questions about how to prepare for your low vision assessment, call the hospital for advice.

Before your appointment:

  • Bring any glasses or visual aids such as magnifying glasses with you to your appointment
  • Write a list of areas where you have problems with your vision and what improvements you hope to achieve in these areas. Some questions to think about may include:
    • Can you read standard print?
    • Does sunlight bother you?
    • Can you cook independently?
    • Is it harder to see at night?
    • Can you travel by yourself?

A low vision assessment is a comprehensive eye assessment that consists of several parts. It may include:

  • Medical history
  • Vision history
  • Vision tests
  • Eye examination
  • Functional eye examination

Medical history

Your consultant will ask you about any medical conditions you have, any medications you take and your family history. They may also ask about lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, and exercise. Your consultant may ask you about your mental health and how you are coping with your low vision.

Vision history

Your consultant will ask you about your symptoms and what aspects of your daily life you find difficult due to your low vision. They will ask about any eye conditions you have been diagnosed with and any treatments you have had.

Vision tests

At your low vision assessment, you will have a range of tests to assess your vision. These may include:

  • Visual acuity test - where you are asked to read letters or numbers on a chart
  • Visual field test - to check for central or peripheral vision loss
  • Depth perception test - a test to measure your ability to see things in 3 dimensions (length, width, height, and distance). During a depth perception test, you may be asked to put on 3D glasses and look at various patterns containing circles to say which circle appears closer
  • Colour vision test - during this test you will be asked to discriminate, match or sort various objects according to colour
  • Amsler grid test - this test is a grid of horizontal and vertical lines with a circle in the centre. It is used to detect problems with your central vision.

Eye examination

Your consultant will perform a complete eye examination to assess the health of your eyes. This may include ocular pressure, tear film, pupil shape and response and eye muscles.

Functional eye examination

Your consultant will ask you questions about how your low vision affects your daily life and your ability to perform certain tasks. They will also discuss your expectations for treatment and your goals for improving your ability to carry out certain activities.

There are various techniques and pieces of equipment that can optimise your remaining vision and make it easier to perform some daily tasks. This may include low-vision rehabilitation and low-vision aids

Low-vision rehabilitation

This treatment involves working with a specially trained therapist to learn ways of adapting to your low vision. This may include mobility training, making things more accessible, using technology such as audiobooks, clocks, or microwaves, and improving the lighting in your home.

Low-vision aids

Low-vision aids are devices that can help you see better. They may include:

  • Magnifying glasses or telescopes - can be handheld or mounted to your glasses
  • Digital or video magnifiers - objects are magnified on a screen where you can adjust the brightness and contrast
  • Large print books and newspapers
  • Tactile aids such as oven dials
  • Glare shields or sunglasses

At your first consultation, you will be seen by a consultant ophthalmologist, a doctor specialising in conditions affecting the eye.

Your consultant will ask you about your symptoms, general health, and medical history. They will explain the low vision assessment to you and what to expect during your assessment. They will also answer any questions you may have about your low vision assessment.

At Circle Health Group, your first appointment is very important as it's where we get to know you, provide a diagnosis, and discuss possible treatments. It's also where we learn about your expectations for treatment and encourage you to ask any questions you may have.

At Circle Health Group we have the experience and expertise to ensure the best possible care and outcome for our patients. As a patient with Circle Health Group, you can expect the highest standards of care including:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations that are convenient for you
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard
  • A range of delicious healthy meals
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to see a consultant or learn more about low vision assessment, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in April 2023. Next review due April 2026.

  1. Low vision assessment (LVA), Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  2. Low vision and low vision services, RNIB
  3. Vision Assessment and Prescription of Low-Vision Devices, PubMed
  4. Low vision assessment, NHS Fife

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