Medical IDs for Vision Impairment
The confidence to live with vision impairment
Our five human senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching – are what allow us to perceive the world around us. It’s easy to take our senses for granted until one of them becomes impaired. Although they’re all important, we rely on vision more than any of the other senses; scientists estimate that up to 85% of our perception and cognition is based on sight, supported by the fact that almost half of our brain’s surface is either fully or partially involved in vision.
According to current data, there are over 25 million people in the U.S. who experience some type of vision impairment. The definition of vision impairment by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifies that a visually impaired person’s eyesight cannot be corrected to a “normal level” by corrective items such as eyeglasses, or by surgery.
That’s why a medical ID for vision impairment is critical for people living with the condition.
How MedicAlert protects those living with vision impairment
One thing you shouldn’t worry about is what could happen if there’s an emergency. MedicAlert’s protection plans offer benefits that extend beyond the ID, providing safety and peace of mind for people living with vision impairment, their families and caregivers.
24/7 Emergency Response
Our team provides first responders the information they need to provide fast, accurate care.
Digital Health Profile
All your vital information, all in one place for you and your caregiver.
Emergency Contact Notification
In an emergency, we connect families so that no one is alone in a crisis.
Share the information that’s important to your care, such as use of rescue medications or contraindication for tests like MRIs.
Pair a medical ID for vision impairment with the protection plan that’s right for you.
What are the symptoms and complications of Vision Impairment?
Visual impairments can affect sight in any of the following ways, and often occur in multiple ways together, at varying levels of severity:
- Loss of visual sharpness and focus, and impaired ability of the person to see objects as clearly as a non-impaired person. The CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) define low visual acuity as vision between 20/70 and 20/400 even with the best possible correction, or a visual field of 20 degrees or less.
- Loss of visual field, meaning a decrease in the width of the area an individual can see without moving their eyes or turning their head.
- Photophobia – inability to look at or difficulty looking at light
- Diplopia – double vision
- Image distortion and diminished perception
What causes Vision Impairment?
There are many factors that can lead to vision impairment, including damage to the eye from an accident or medical condition. Impairment can also originate in the brain, rather than the eyes themselves. Brain damage or illness can cause a decrease in the ability of one or more of the brain’s visual centers to receive and/or process the visual cues sent from the eyes.
Underlying medical conditions are common causes of visual impairment. The most prevalent disease-based causes are diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and increased pressure within the eyes, leading to glaucoma. Following is additional information about these and other leading causes of vision impairment:
- Uncorrected Refractive Errors: Believe it or not, common vision problems like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (blurred vision both near and far), if left untreated, can lead to more severe visual impairment. Presbyopia (“old eyes”) is another common impairment. Most people over 40 have some degree of presbyopia, caused by hardening of the retina with aging, making it less elastic and less able to focus on near objects.
- Cataracts and Macular Degeneration: These are also age-related visual impairments. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens, which is normally clear. Cataracts develop slowly, causing blurred, cloudy, or dim vision, night blindness, and halos. Age-related macular degeneration affects central vision but does not worsen to full blindness, and is more common in people over 50, smokers, and people with high blood pressure. 80% of macular degeneration is the “dry” type, in whic, light-sensitive macular cells in the eye die. In its “wet” form there is more severe vision loss from abnormal blood vessels growing beneath retina leaking blood and fluid.
- Glaucoma: Caused by increasing pressure within the eye damaging the optic nerve. It is the leading cause of blindness for people over 60. Although its progression is gradual, damage can’t be reversed once it occurs, but when detected and treated early, it can be slowed and major vision loss prevented.
- Diabetic Retinopathy: Visual impairment caused by diabetes. Blood vessels in the retina leak, causing blurred vision, floating spots, and blindness if not treated. More than half of individuals diagnosed with diabetes develop this impairment.
- Corneal Opacity: If the cornea, the clear front layer of the eye, is damaged or scarred, light can’t pass through the scarring, causing decreased vision. It is very preventable with early treatment of eye infections, injuries, and abrasions.
- Trachoma: Visual impairment originating from bacteria called bacterium chlamydia trachomatis. 1.9 million people worldwide are blinded or visually impaired from this bacteria, and the damage and vision loss it causes are irreversible.
What to engrave on MedicAlert medical IDs for vision impairment:
MedicAlert offers free custom engraving on all our vision impairment bracelets and medical ID products. Engravings on medical IDs for vision impairment should include any critical medical information that can protect and save lives in an accident or medical emergency, for example:
- Visual impairment: if possible, include the type or level of vision loss and if there are other medical conditions, related or not, such as diabetes or hearing impairment.
- Implants: include information about implants or devices such as intraocular lenses, ocular prosthesis, bionic eyes, and retinal or cochlear implants.
- Any additional medical information that needs to be communicated to first responders.
Sample engraving. Consult our team if you need help engraving your medical ID for vision impairment.
How do you diagnose Vision Impairment?
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in examining, diagnosing, and treating eyes and eye conditions, and who examines the eyes when vision impairment and visual problems are suspected.
To diagnose visual impairment, an ophthalmologist will first examine the eye itself and then use several types of vision tests to determine the extent of the impairment. These tests include the visual acuity test, which uses an eye chart to measure sight at different distances; the visual field test, which measures peripheral vision; and the tonometry test, which measures fluid pressure within the eye to diagnose glaucoma.
How do you treat, manage, and live with Vision Impairment?
There are many low-tech, familiar visual aids that can help individuals with mild visual impairment, including eyeglasses, contact lenses, prescription eye drops and large-print books and digital displays. Certain types of impairment, particularly cataracts, can be corrected with surgery, and laser vision correction has become commonplace to improve milder forms of impairment, like myopia.
For more severe impairment and blindness, aids like optoelectronic reading systems (i.e., video magnifier), audiobooks, a touch watch, a phone with enlarged buttons, books in Braille, and walking aids, like a long cane or a guide dog, can help visually impaired individuals manage many activities of daily living and increase their self-sufficiency.
Independence and self-sufficiency are important for anyone, regardless of their visual or other medical limitations. For those with visual impairment, great strides have been made in fostering independence and improved quality of life, thanks to the aids and procedures mentioned above. If you have or live with someone who has vision impairment, here are some steps you can take to facilitate self-sufficiency at home:
- Organize and unclutter your living space. Everything should have a specific place and always be returned to that place, including items stored inside cabinets, drawers, and refrigerators.
- Keeping furniture in designated places, and drawers/closet doors closed is also critical. If someone moves a chair away from the table, a visually-impaired person may not have the ability to see that it isn’t where they expect it to be, which could potentially cause an accident or injury.
- Strong lighting and contrast can be helpful for those with visual impairment. Labels and markers are also helpful: put raised dots on appliances like the stove and microwave at frequently-used points, like 350-degrees on an oven, and on the start and minute buttons on the microwave. Use rubber bands to indicate differences in the color or contents of similarly-shaped objects, for example rubber-band black socks only. Experiment to find the best solutions for your home.
- Always be prepared for accidents and emergencies. A medical ID and medical alert system can provide peace of mind for people with visual impairments who want to live as independently as possible.
How medical IDs for vision impairment combined with MedicAlert Membership provide peace of mind
Visual impairment can contribute to the likelihood of falls and other medical emergencies, and emergencies can be especially challenging for people who live with impaired vision. They may have limitations to their mobility or difficulty accessing first aid. A MedicAlert ID is recommended for all types of visual impairment because it alerts emergency responders to the condition and allows them to administer the best possible treatment.
A MedicAlert ID paired with a Protection Plan enlarges the safety net that supports you in a medical emergency by allowing access to MedicAlert’s 24/7 emergency response service. Depending on the plan level, it will also give emergency responders your full, updated medical history and emergency contact information so your loved ones can be by your side in your moment of need.
- We’re your voice: If you can’t speak for yourself due to a medical emergency, your ID will speak for you – informing others about your vision impairment and any medications you’re taking.
- 24/7 emergency protection: In an emergency, the MedicAlert team will relay all of your critical medical information to first responders, no matter where or when your emergency happens.
- Always connected: You should never be alone in an emergency. That’s why MedicAlert will reach out to your designated contacts if you are unable to do so.
- Live with peace of mind and confidence: MedicAlert will be there for you every step of the way. You’ll have the confidence and freedom to live your life with vision impairment, knowing we’ve got you covered.