Low vision assessment

Regular visits to your eye clinic for eye examinations are important. Your Ophthalmologist can detect any changes in your condition and let you know if any new treatment is available. Low vision assessments are recommended to establish if any optical aids, such as glasses and magnifiers, would be useful.

What is a low vision assessment?

A low vision assessment (LVA) determines how you can make use of your remaining vision. An Optometrist carries out the assessment at a hospital eye clinic or at home. The Optometrist will measure your useful vision and identify potential optical aids.

What can you expect during your LVA?

The Optometrist will measure your functional vision for both close up and distance tasks. They will use eye charts and reading materials similar to the charts used in standard eye tests, but in a different way. The Optometrist will test other aspects of your vision using different tools, including:

  • The Snellen or LogMAR charts to test distance
  • Near Vision test using differing font sizes
  • Ishihara test to test colour perception. You will be asked to identify numbers contained within images made up of different coloured dots.
  • Field of Vision test: looking directly forward and identifying numbers or lights in your peripheral vision.
  • UK Driving Standard sight test

Glasses and optical aids

During your LVA, the Optometrist will introduce methods and optical aids to try to improve what you can see.

For distance viewing, the Optometrist will use glasses with different strengths to increase what you are able to see. If glasses are not helping your vision, your Optometrist might suggest using monoculars, small binoculars or digital alternatives. For more information on these devices, please read our Low vision aids page.

Your vision will also be tested for close up tasks. The Optometrist will introduce glasses of varying strengths to try to improve how easily you can complete the tasks. If glasses are no longer suitable, they will assess your vision using magnifiers. Magnifiers include:

  • Hand held magnifiers, with or without lights
  • Dome magnifiers
  • Standing magnifiers
  • Hand held video magnifiers

For more information on magnifiers that are available, please visit the Reading and Writing page.

Eccentric viewing and lighting

The LVA will also include other ways to improve how much you can see, or demonstrate how to use your vision differently. The Optometrist will show you how to use ‘task lighting’. Task lighting, in combination with glasses or magnifiers, may make day-to-day tasks easier for you.

For more information on lighting, please see our Lighting page.

The Optometrist may show you how to identify areas of vision that you could use to make daily tasks easier. ‘Eccentric Viewing’, used with ‘Steady Eye’ technique, can help with tasks such as reading and with identifying people’s faces.

The Macular Society can train people to use Eccentric Viewing. For more information please contact our Advice & Information Service on 0300 3030 111. You can also see our Skills for Seeing page.

How often should I have a LVA?

As macular disease can progress and reduce your vision further, an LVA may be required to recommend new techniques and optical aids to help you use your remaining sight. If you find the glasses or optical aids you are using are no longer effective, talk to your Ophthalmologist or GP about completing another low vision assessment.

For more information about Low Vision Assessments please contact our Advice and Information Service on 0300 3030 111.