A smiling young boy wearing low vision glasses in a doctor's office
Conner has nystagmus and wanted to see the board at school better and drive

Often low vision gets misconstrued as a senior citizen condition. And while most patients at Low Vision of Western New York fall into that category, YES! young people can have low vision.

First, let’s start with the definition of low vision-

Common Medical Definitions of Low Vision

Low vision is vision loss that can’t be corrected with glasses, contacts, medication, or surgery.

Low vision is a term that refers to vision 20/70 or worse.

As we define it in our practice, low vision results from having an eye condition that prevents someone from doing the things they want to do.

Common Eye Conditions That Young People Can Have That Can Cause Low Vision Are

  • Stargardt disease (Juvenile Macular Degeneration)
  • Nystagmus (where the eyes make repetitive, involuntary horizontal movements)
  • High Astigmatism (causes blurred distance and near vision)
  • Congenital Cataracts (a rare birth defect)
  • Achromatopsia (color deficiency)
  • Rod-Cone Dystrophy
  • Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)
  • Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Common Tasks That Bring Young People To Our Office

Seeing the chalkboard or smart board at school

One patient was able to use an iPad to enlarge the material from the smart board. And, with low vision glasses, young people don’t have to sit in the front row.


In New York, telescopic lenses and other glasses to correct vision are allowed to pass the exam and receive a driver’s license. Dr. Kornfeld works with our patient’s usable vision to prescribe low vision glasses so they can pass the eye chart test and see things in the distance while driving, like stop signs and stop lights. This ensures that our patients are confident and safe drivers.

Trouble reading

When young people are identified as having trouble reading, the first assumption is that they have a learning disorder. While this could be true, another culprit could be their vision. Once a child is diagnosed with a vision-limiting condition like Stargardt disease, Dr. Kornfeld can work with them to fit a custom pair of low vision glasses. We prescribe three types of low vision reading glasses- reading microscope glasses, prismatic reading glasses, and reading telescope glasses.

How To Identify a Vision Issue with Your Child

It is crucial to identify a vision issue as early as possible. The best course of action is to check your young people’s vision starting as early as possible and to get a complete eye exam before they start school.

Here is a test that you can do at home with young people at an early age- with your child, cover one of their eyes at a time. Do you notice that they react unfavorably (scrunch up their face or otherwise get irritated) to one over the other? If you see that they favor one eye in this test, they may have strabismus, also known as crossed eyes. This can lead to amblyopia (lazy eye) and is very hard to correct after age five.

We Are Here To Help Those of All Ages With Low Vision

Dr. Kornfeld is personally committed to providing life-giving services for those of all ages, whether they want to drive, read, or do their favorite pastimes. He has often been able to help those even when other doctors say that there is nothing more that can be done for them. It is because of this that we offer a free telephone consultation. Call 866-446-2050 to set that up. There is life after vision loss!

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