Low Vision

Low vision is a condition where reduced level of vision vision and/or visual fields constricted and cannot be fully corrected by either medical and/or surgical treatment, using glasses or contact lenses in both eyes. Unlike a person who is blind, a person with low vision has some useful sight. However, low vision usually interferes with the performance of daily activities, such as driving or reading. A person with low vision may not recognized images at a distance or be able to differentiate colours of similar tones.

In Malaysia, The National Eye Survey 1996 estimated that there were 540,000 people with low vision and about 50,000 people who were blind. Prevalence of low vision was found to be 2.44% and those who were blind was 0.3%.

What is the definition of low vision?

Low vision is a condition where an individual has visual acuity is less than 6/18 up to 3/60 or when the visual field is less than 20 degrees in the better eye despite the best possible corrections.

Blindness (Legally blind) is defined as visual acuity less than 3/60 or visual field less than 10 degrees in the better eye with the best possible corrections.

A person with a visual acuity of 6/18 will only be able to see an object at 6 meters while those who have normal vision will see the same object in the same way when they are at 18 meters from the object.

What are the main causes of low vision?

The main causes of low vision are:

What are the signs that I have low vision?

  • Difficulty recognizing objects at a distance (street signs or bus signs)
  • Difficulty differentiating colours
  • Difficulty seeing well up close (reading or cooking)
  • Visual field size becomes smaller
  • Combination of both reduced vision and constricted field


Vision of individual who is normal

Vision of low vision individual due to blurring which is not being corrected

Vision of low vision individual due to diabetic retinopathy

Vision of low vision individual due to cataract

Vision of low vision individual due to ARMD

Vision of low vision individual due to glaucoma

How to know if I have low vision?

Identification can be done through:

  • Vision screening
  • Regular interval and comprehensive eye examination
  • Regular interval eye examination for patients with chronic diseases, for example, diabetes mellitus and hypertensive patients

What assistance can be offered if I have low vision?

Assistance that can be offered is low vision rehabilitation which include:

  • Optical devices, for examples: magnifiers, telescopes
  • Non-optical aids, for examples: extra illumination, typoscope, books with enlarged text, writing guides, clock with large numbers, keyboard with large letters
  • Electronic devices, for example: close circuit television (CCTV), portable electronic devices
  • Environmental modification
  • Orientation and mobility training
  • Counseling

Examples of optical devices such as magnifiers for reading and telescopes for looking at distance objects

Examples of non-optical aids :
a) books with enlarged text
b) writing guide
c) clock with large numbers
d) keyboard with large letters

Example usage of electronic device CCTV

Example of modification of environment which can be done

Example using extra illumination and typoscope

Example usage of portable electronic device

What I need to do if I have low vision?

If you think that you may have low vision, please get low vision rehabilitation at the State Hospital, District Hospital with Specialists, University Hospital, some Private Hospitals and Low Vision Clinic at Optometry Department in Public or Private Universities.

What other agencies that can assist?

Other agencies that can assist include:
  • Social Welfare Department (JKM), Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, Malaysia
  • Special Education Division, Ministry of Education, Malaysia
  • Other non-government organisations
    • Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB)
    • Society for the Blind Malaysia (SBM)
    • St. Nicholas Homes Centre
    • Sabah Society for the Blind (SSB)
    • Sarawak Society for the Blind (SKSB)


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Last Reviewed : 23 August 2019
Writer/Translator : Prof. Madya Dr. Rokiah Omar
Accreditor : Hjh. Che Ruhani Che Jaafar
Reviewer : Dr. Rosniza Ab. Razak