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Eyeglass Frame Materials

It’s time to choose a new pair of eyeglasses, and the current selection of frames is overwhelming. Armed with only your vision prescription, you now need to navigate between different materials, colors, prices and unique features of all the eyeglass frames. Here is a basic guide that explains about the most common types of frames and what they have to offer.

Metal Frames

The most popular material for eyeglass frames, there is a whole array of metals to consider. Each metal comes with a distinctive set of properties and characteristics.

Titanium: Extremely resilient and corrosion-resistant, titanium is also hypoallergenic and weighs in at 40% lighter than other metals. Available in a variety of color tones, titanium is an ideal material for eyeglasses.

Beta titanium: Titanium mixed with small quantities of aluminum and vanadium, this alloy is more flexible than pure titanium. Adjustments to your eyeglass fit are therefore done easily.

Memory metal: Frames made of memory metal are composed of a titanium alloy that has approximately 50% nickel and 50% titanium. These eyeglasses are very bendable and will return to their original shape even after they are twisted and turned. Memory metal frames are superb for kids or anyone who is rough on their eyeglasses.

Beryllium: The primary advantage of beryllium is its corrosion-resistance. A less costly metal than titanium, beryllium doesn’t tarnish. It is an ideal option for anyone who spends a lot of time around salt water, or who possesses high skin acidity. Flexible, durable and lightweight, beryllium comes in a range of colors.

Stainless steel: Manufactured in both matte and polished, glossy finishes, stainless steel is strong, flexible, corrosion-resistant and lightweight. An iron-carbon alloy, it also contains chromium.

Monel: This popular alloy of copper and nickel is less expensive than other metals, yet depending upon the quality of plating used – it sometimes discolors or causes skin reactions after long use.

Aluminum: Lightweight and very resistant to corrosion, aluminum boasts a unique look and is frequently used in high-end, exclusive eyewear.

Plastic Frames

Zyl: Abbreviated from “zylonate” (cellulose acetate), zyl is relatively inexpensive and very popular in plastic eyeglass frames. Lightweight, it is available in a rainbow of colors, including multi-colored versions and layers of different colors within one frame.

Propionate: Often used in sports frames, propionate is extremely durable and flexible. This nylon-based plastic is also lightweight and hypoallergenic.

Nylon: Over recent years, nylon has been replaced largely by more resilient nylon blends, such as polyamides, gliamides and copolyamides. While 100% nylon is lightweight and strong, it tends to weaken with age and become brittle.

Cellulose acetate: A plant-based plastic that is hypoallergenic. This material was first used for eyewear in the late 1940’s because of brittleness and other problems with previously used plastics. Today’s acetates are known for being strong, lightweight, and flexible. Cellulose acetate also has the widest range for transparency, rich colors, and finishes. More complex colorations are able to be produced by layering several colors or transparencies in layers and sandwiching them together.

Combination Frames

The best of both worlds, combination frames offer metal and plastic components in one frame. These styles were trendy in the 1950s and 1960s and have recently been revitalized for a fun comeback in many more colors and tones than the classic versions.

Mix It Up!

Each respective frame material brings unique features and advantages to your eyeglasses. One pair of glasses may not fit every part of your daily routine, in addition to social outings and special occasions. Perhaps a pair of titanium frames is best for your sophisticated, conservative work environment, but on the weekends you’d prefer to show off style with a retro zyl frame in laminated colors? Consider purchasing more than one pair of eyeglasses, and match your frames to your personality and lifestyle. Whatever you decide, the Eyes of New Mexico Family Optometry and Contact Lenses optical is here to help you find the perfect pair of glasses.

Polycarbonate Lenses

Polycarbonate lenses are high index lenses that are known primarily for their exceptional impact resistance and anti-scratch coating. If you or your children are always bumping, scratching or dropping your eyeglasses, this is the material for you. Up to 10 times more impact resistant than standard plastic eyeglass lenses, polycarbonate is a first-rate option for people with an active lifestyle. Developed in the 1970s, polycarbonate has been protecting eyes for quite a while.

Superb Eye Safety

If you regularly engage in sports or physical activity, these tough, durable lenses provide an extra degree of safety for your eyes. In fact, most protective eye gear and sports goggles are made from polycarb onate lenses, even when no vision prescription is needed. In addition, polycarbonate boasts built-in protection from the sun’s UV rays, making this an ideal lens material for time spent outdoors.

Lightweight Lenses

The refractive index of polycarbonate lenses is 1.59, which results in a lens that’s 20% to 25% thinner than common plastic lenses. Weighing in at 30% lighter than regular lenses, polycarbonate takes a load off the bridge of your nose!

Trivex Lenses

Developed in 2001, Trivex lenses are constructed from a newer plastic that shares many properties with polycarbonate. While also thin, scratch-resistant, highly impact-resistant and lightweight, Trivex lenses may be slightly thicker than polycarbonate lenses. For some vision prescriptions, they may provide a better visual clarity and more scratch resistance than polycarbonate lenses.

 

Contacts & Glasses that Enhance Performance


Every sports activity requires a different skill set for success, yet all sports share a critical need for good vision.

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Geraint Griffiths, a British optometrist, devised a study to determine the effects of visual acuity on sports performance. This study distributed special vision-blurring goggles to Wimbledon tennis players and UK national clay pigeon shooters. Their performance was studied while the goggles were worn. Even though the goggles only blurred their vision a bit, the marksmen and tennis players showed a 25% decrease in accomplishment. This study demonstrated clearly that vision and sports achievement are inextricably linked.

Visual clarity isn’t the only benefit provided by sports eyewear. There are a number of additional eyewear features that boost athletic performance and enhance eye safety.

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Protect Your Eyes from Impact-Related Injuries

As reported by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, over 42,000 sports-related eye injuries occur in the United States each year. Approximately 43% of those injuries happen to children under the age of 15. The majority of these injuries can be prevented with protective eyewear, such as safety goggles with polycarbonate lenses.

Regular eyeglasses are designed for daily wear, and they aren’t resilient enough to handle the rough and tumble wear needed for sports. They also provide inadequate protection for your eyes. Contact lenses offer zero protection from sports-related eye injuries. In contrast, sports eyewear is constructed to be highly impact-resistant, thereby granting superior protection for your eyes and removing anxiety about potential eye injuries. Able to withstand the hit of a ball traveling at up to 90 miles per hour, polycarbonate lenses are about 10 times more impact-resistant than regular lenses.

Safety eyeglasses are advised for every activity that has the potential for injuries to the eye. Be aware that the following land sports run a higher risk to eyes: softball, baseball, hockey, football, basketball, handball, squash, racquetball, tennis, volleyball, soccer and lacrosse. In water, all swimming and pool sports require specialized eye gear. Paintball players should also make safety eyewear an essential part of their game.

A Barrier against UV Rays

Harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be just as damaging to your eyes as other injuries. A number of eye diseases, such as ocular tumors, macular degeneration, and cataracts, have been associated with exposure to UV rays. Photokeratitis, which refers to sunburn on your eye, is another hazard. This painful condition can cause long-term corneal damage.

Dangerous UV rays are more potent at higher altitudes and also bounce off snow or outdoor water, which increases exposure. It is imperative for skiers and anyone who enjoys outdoor water sports to wear sports sunglasses or tinted goggles that block 100% of the sun’s UV rays.

Some types of contact lenses provide UV protection, yet they only cover the central part of your eye. For this reason, sunglasses that block UV rays should still be worn, preferably in a wraparound style that also covers the delicate tissues surrounding your eyes. Hats with a wide brim will upgrade your protection by further reducing facial exposure to UV rays.

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Enhance Your Game with Colored Lenses

Special tinted eyewear may add a winning edge to your game. Depending upon the lighting conditions, it’s not always simple to “keep your eye on the ball”. Hunters favor shooting glasses with amber tinted lenses, which highlight the contrast of birds flying against an overcast, dim sky. Golfers tend to gain the largest benefit from green tinted lenses.

A wide range of specialized tints for specific indoor and outdoor sports are available. These lenses can improve visibility and contrast in a diversity of environments. Ask your eye doctor or optician for more information about which lenses can help raise your scores.

Don’t Let Light Get in the Way

Reflective surfaces, such as a flat body of water, a sandy beach or even light-colored pavement, can disturb your vision with glare. Polarized sunglasses are one effective way to resolve this problem.

Another glare reducer is to add and anti-glare (AG) component to your lenses. At night, sports eyewear with anti-glare will diminish lens reflections when playing under bright lights or spotlights. It’s a good idea to apply anti-glare to the back surface of sport sunglasses in order to decrease the glare that bounces into your eyesight when sunlight hits the back of your lenses.

You can control the light that enters your eye by wearing photochromic lenses. These clear lenses transition automatically into dark lenses upon exposure to UV rays. They also offer 100% UV protection, and return quickly to their former clear state when you go indoors.

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Contacts Provide Comfortable and Convenient Vision

Many advantages come along with wearing contact lenses for sports, even if you normally wear eyeglasses on a daily basis:

  • Unobstructed peripheral vision
  • Natural-appearing vision, with no changes in image sizes
  • No fogging lenses
  • Non-slip when perspiring

The best contact lens choice for sports is soft one-day disposables. There’s no need to clean them and you can toss them in the garbage at the end of the day. The flexible, oxygen-permeable material of one-day soft lenses also requires very little adaptation. They can be inserted easily and worn comfortably for a full day of physical activity.

Although contact lenses offer high convenience and comfort, there are still a number of disadvantages with wearing contacts for sports. No protection against eye injury is provided and they don’t offer sufficient UV protection. For ultimate performance and safety, you need to wear quality protective eyewear or sunglasses over your lenses.

Eyewear for Swimming, Snorkeling & Scuba Diving


If you need vision correction, participating in swimming and watersports requires an extra bit of planning. You want to see your best both in and out of the water but your regular glasses and contact lenses aren’t feasible options.

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Well the good news is, there are prescription swimming goggles and masks available to provide optimal vision in the water and here is what you need to know about them.

First of all, many people don’t know about the dangers of wearing contact lenses in the water. Wearing contact lenses in any kind of water, whether it is an ocean, a pool or even a shower, is risky because bacteria in the water could cause an infection if they get under your lens. Unless you are wearing a mask or goggles that are 100% sealed and don’t let any water underneath, wearing contacts in the water is not recommended. If you do decide to wear contact lenses in the water, it is recommended to discard them immediately upon exiting the water.

Prescription Swimming Goggles

A fantastic solution for swimmers is prescription swimming goggles. These are regular swim goggles with either pre-made or a custom made prescriptions lenses. Pre-made lenses will likely not be fit to your exact prescription needs, but if you select them appropriately, they will be adequate for you to see well for swimming and sporting in the water.

Custom made goggle lenses will fit your prescription, although they will be slightly different than your regular eyeglass prescription because of the differences in seeing underwater. Whether you are purchasing pre-made or custom made swimming goggles, you should consult with your eye doctor and/or an optician knowledgeable on the topic to make sure you select the optimal lens for your vision needs. If you have astigmatism or another eye condition, you may have additional needs to consider.

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Prescription Snorkeling and Scuba Diving Masks

If you scuba dive or snorkel you want to see every detail of the beautiful underwater world. You can achieve this by using a dive mask with a prescription lens. There are a few options for prescription masks. In the first option corrective lenses are bonded or glued to the inside of your mask, creating a second layer. A second option is to purchase a mask in which the entire lens of the mask is replaced with a prescription lens. These can be premade or custom made lenses. There are also now masks that are made with removeable lenses in which you can buy the corrective lens separately and insert it yourself.

You may have to adjust to viewing with a corrective dive mask because the lens might be further from your eyes than you are used to with your regular eyewear.

In general, pre-made prescription lenses on both goggles and masks are cheaper than the custom made options. In most cases, since you are using them for a relatively short period of time, the pre-made options can suffice. If however, you are a serious diver and want to see as clearly as possibly, it may be worthwhile to look into a custom made mask.

Safety and Sports Glasses


Nowadays, sports eyewear tells the world that you are a serious player. It doesn’t matter whether you bat in Little League or skate with the pros, eye gear for sports offers a long list of benefits.

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Protective eyewear, such as specialized goggles and wraparound frames with polycarbonate lenses, helps to reduce or eliminate your risk of eye damage. An added bonus is that performance is often enhanced, due to the high quality vision provided from eyewear made for wearing on the playing field.

Eye gear for sports is not merely recommended, but now mandated by many clubs. Members are required to wear proper protective eyewear in order to participate in activities. Once upon a time, kids used to cringe at the concept of wearing goggles, but just like bike helmets have become the norm – sports goggles are now accepted as part of the uniform and regarded as ultra-cool.

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Protect Your Eyes from Fast and Furious Sports Action

If you’re still unconvinced about your need to wear protective eyewear for sports, take a look at these scary statistics:

Hospital emergency rooms treat 40,000 eye injuries annually, which are sports-related
Tennis and badminton are played with objects that zoom at 60 mile per hour or faster. With racquetball, the ball can whizz by at 60 to 200 miles per hours.

Activities such as racquetball involve racquets that swing at lightning speed in a confined space where crashes are inevitable.

Many sports are filled with pokes and jabs from elbows or fingers. Even basketball is associated with a high incidence of injuries to the eye.

Up Your Performance with Sports Eyewear

Until recently, people with mild to moderate vision correction used to play their games without wearing eyeglasses or contacts. Yet top performance in any sport is dependent upon sharp vision. Eye gear and goggles for sports allow you to compete at your best, with 20/20 eyesight.

Key Features of Sports Glasses

Sports eyewear does not share the same characteristics as regular eyeglasses, sunglasses or industrial safety glasses. Crafted in a variety of shapes, sports eye gear is specialized to suit the specific needs of each respective sport. Many types of eyewear are even designed to fit into helmets worn when playing football, baseball or hockey.

Protective lenses are generally made from polycarbonate, a durable and impact-resistant material that boasts full UV protection for outdoor action. Polycarbonate lenses are also scratch-resistant, which is a valuable feature for many rough sports.

The frames are typically designed from highly-impact resistant plastic or polycarbonate, and they are coated with rubber padding at every point that connects with your face. Some frame styles are contoured to wrap around your face, which provides secure coverage for activities such as hang-gliding, sailing and biking. Non-prescription wraparound shapes are useful for contact lens wearers, as they block your eyes from dust or wind.

Classic handball goggles used to be fashioned as plain goggles with small openings instead of lenses. That style was abandoned once it was realized that the high speed of handballs actually compressed the balls enough to penetrate through the goggle opening and seriously damage the orbital bones around your eye. Modern and effective goggles for handball and racquetball include polycarbonate lenses that protect your eyes.

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Importance of a Good Fit

There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to sports goggles. Proper sizing is critical for top-notch function. For kids, many parents may be tempted to purchase larger goggles so that they’ll be long-lasting with room to grow. Yet if the frames are truly oversized, they won’t protect the child’s eyes adequately. Impact or blows to the face or head won’t be cushioned properly.

On the flipside, wearing sports goggles that are too small is just as hazardous. Not only will the child be constantly tempted to take them off due to discomfort, but the eyewear will also disturb peripheral vision. Without a good view of all that’s happening around your child, sports performance will be compromised. Hits from unseen sources on the sidelines are another risk factor.

The fit of sports goggles should be reassessed each year. The eyewear should still feel comfortable and provide proper eye protection. The padding on the interior of the goggles must rest flush with your or your child’s face, and eyes should be centered in the lens zone.

Shooting Glasses & Hunting Eyewear


Firearms can be dangerous, and all have some recoil. In addition most shooting occurs outside, where elements such as dust, wind, sun, trees and vegetation can potentially harm eyes. Therefore it’s very important to use eye protection at all times when engaged in shooting activities, indoors and outside.

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Generally, sports goggles that you can buy without prescription usually protect your eyes if you wear contacts or don’t need glasses. These goggles usually wrap around your eyes to form a shield against the elements. Make sure to buy goggles with lenses made of polycarbonate, which is the best and strongest lens material available.

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Features of Shooting Glasses

Glasses for shooters are specially designed and have several important features. These glasses have more features that the general aviator- shaped frames that are popular. The most important feature is that the frame has a safety rating. Don’t buy any shooting glasses that don’t have such a rating. All of these models have a strong rim which holds the lenses in place. Some glasses have a “sweat bar” that goes along the width of the frame which creates stability for the frame to stay on the face. Other models use padding on the frame around the eyes, which cushions the frame on your face. This protects your face from gun recoil. Additionally, it adds to the protection against the elements.

Glasses for shooting often have temples with spring hinges. This type of hinge allows the frame to move without breaking. Many glasses often include temples that wrap around your ear which helps keep the frame in the correct position on your face. Features that make the frames more comfortable often include soft silicon pads around the nose, which also help to keep the frame in place. Frames may be made out of several different types of materials, including various metals and titanium, plastic and polycarbonate.

Lenses for Shooting Glasses

Shooters have chosen polycarbonate lenses with UV protection and a scratch-resistant coating as their lens of choice for years. Polycarbonate lenses are extremely resistant to impact, and also give a lot of “bounce back” and “blow back” protection. However, there are newer materials for lenses that have been developed recently that are also excellent choices for shooters.

Non-prescription shooting glasses often come with interchangeable lenses. These lenses are used when facing varied conditions of light. If you need prescription lenses, you can order your lenses in various colors of your choice. Shooters often enjoy using orange or yellow colored lenses. These colors of lenses block blue light as well as haze. They also provide a more vivid hue of orange, which is often the color of the target. Bright yellow lenses are good for using in low light, or foggy weather conditions.

A light purple lens is particularly good for seeing an orange target when the background is green trees. Purple lenses are made from a mixture of vermillion and gray. Some shooters like vermilion, because this color helps see where there is a natural outdoor background, and helps the target to stand out. If you prefer a neutral or natural color, gray is the color of choice. A gray lens allows you to see all colors naturally, and are good for using in strong sunshine.

Polarized lenses are available in most colors. Polarized lenses are good for use in the outdoors, as they reduce glare. This is particularly helpful when shooting near water.

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Eyeglass Frame Materials


Eyeglass frames are made from a vast array of different materials, colors, and ranging in prices and specialty features. We know this can be a bit overwhelming so below you will find a basic guide explaining the most common types of frames and their benefits.

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Which Type of Frames Should I Choose?

It’s time to choose a new pair of eyeglasses, and the current selection of frames is overwhelming. Armed with only your vision prescription, you now need to navigate between different materials, colors, prices and unique features of all the eyeglass frames.

Your lifestyle plays a big role when considering the best material for your eyeglass frames. Children, teenagers, and anyone with an active lifestyle require durable and flexible frames that are able to withstand hits and falls.

As well, anyone with skin allergies must make sure their frame materials are hypoallergenic, such as titanium, acetate, or stainless steel.

Other specialty materials designers are using are wood, precious gems, bone and even leaves. Here is a basic guide that explains about the most common types of frames and what they have to offer.

Metal Frames

The most popular material for eyeglass frames, there is a whole array of metals to consider. Each metal comes with a distinctive set of properties and characteristics.

Titanium

Extremely resilient and corrosion-resistant, titanium is also hypoallergenic and weighs in at 40% lighter than other metals. Available in a variety of color tones, titanium is an ideal material for eyeglasses.

Beta titanium

Titanium mixed with small quantities of aluminum and vanadium, this alloy is more flexible than pure titanium. Adjustments to your eyeglass fit are therefore done easily.

Memory metal

Frames made of memory metal are composed of a titanium alloy that has approximately 50% nickel and 50% titanium. These eyeglasses are very bendable and will return to their original shape even after they are twisted and turned. Memory metal frames are superb for kids or anyone who is rough on their eyeglasses.

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Metal Frames Continued...

Beryllium

The primary advantage of beryllium is its corrosion-resistance. A less costly metal than titanium, beryllium doesn’t tarnish. It is an ideal option for anyone who spends a lot of time around salt water, or who possesses high skin acidity. Flexible, durable and lightweight, beryllium comes in a range of colors.

Stainless steel

Manufactured in both matte and polished, glossy finishes, stainless steel is strong, flexible, corrosion-resistant and lightweight. An iron-carbon alloy, it also contains chromium.

Monel

This popular alloy of copper and nickel is less expensive than other metals, yet depending upon the quality of plating used – it sometimes discolors or causes skin reactions after long use.

Aluminum

Lightweight and very resistant to corrosion, aluminum boasts a unique look and is frequently used in high-end, exclusive eyewear.

Plastic Frames

Zyl

Abbreviated from “zylonate” (cellulose acetate), zyl is relatively inexpensive and very popular in plastic eyeglass frames. Lightweight, it is available in a rainbow of colors, including multi-colored versions and layers of different colors within one frame.

Propionate

Often used in sports frames, propionate is extremely durable and flexible. This nylon-based plastic is also lightweight and hypoallergenic.

Nylon

Over recent years, nylon has been replaced largely by more resilient nylon blends, such as polyamides, gliamides and copolyamides. While 100% nylon is lightweight and strong, it tends to weaken with age and become brittle.

Cellulose acetate

A plant-based plastic that is hypoallergenic. This material was first used for eyewear in the late 1940’s because of brittleness and other problems with previously used plastics. Today’s acetates are known for being strong, lightweight, and flexible. Cellulose acetate also has the widest range for transparency, rich colors, and finishes. More complex colorations are able to be produced by layering several colors or transparencies in layers and sandwiching them together.

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Combination Frames

The best of both worlds, combination frames offer metal and plastic components in one frame. These styles were trendy in the 1950s and 1960s and have recently been revitalized for a fun comeback in many more colors and tones than the classic versions.

Mix It Up!

Each respective frame material brings unique features and advantages to your eyeglasses. One pair of glasses may not fit every part of your daily routine, in addition to social outings and special occasions.

Perhaps a pair of titanium frames is best for your sophisticated, conservative work environment, but on the weekends you’d prefer to show off style with a retro zyl frame in laminated colors?

Consider purchasing more than one pair of eyeglasses, and match your frames to your personality and lifestyle.

Performance and Sport Sunglasses


Whether you are out in the fields, the golf course, the waves or the mountains, no matter where you are, you want your sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun and enhance your visual experience.

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More than Sun Protection

Sports and performance sunglasses are more than sun protection, they need to be designed for optimal, fit, comfort, acuity and strength, based on the demands of the sport or leisure activity you pursue.

Each element of your sports eyewear needs to be designed for active wear and to stand up to the tests of extreme weather conditions, rough play, impact and of course the sun. If you are fishing for example, you need anti-glare protection in your lenses for when the sun’s bright rays reflect off the water, you need a broad frame to keep out the mist and wind and you need strong frames and lenses for impact resistance.

Most importantly, depending on your sport of choice, your glasses should assist in creating an enhanced visual experience so you can see and perform at your best.

Performance Sport Lenses

The first consideration when selecting your sports eyewear is the lens. You likely want a lightweight, strong and durable lens that can withstand impact from debris, other athletes, balls or falls. The leading lenses in this arena are polycarbonate or trivex lenses which are made from highly impact resistant plastic that has built-in UV protection.

Glare can be an annoying and uncomfortable distraction in outdoor activities, which can reduce vision and have a negative impact on sports performance. Polarized lenses will help to reduce the glare that is reflected off of wet, icy or shiny surfaces.

Lens tints and coatings (such as anti-glare or anti-scratch coatings) can also help to improve visual clarity and can serve to reduce glare and to enhance contrast sensitivity to improve vision and therefore performance in certain outdoor activities. Some sports sunglasses come with interchangeable lenses of different tints to allow you to choose the contrast that most suits the conditions you are playing in.

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Sport Frames

When selecting sports sunglass frames, the most important consideration is whether they have a comfortable and secure fit. Look for a pair that is strong and durable, yet lightweight and that doesn’t press into your face and cause discomfort at the temples or the bridge of the nose.

For some sports like snowboarding, sports goggles might be the best option for the weather conditions and specific nature of the movement. Some frame options come with grips on the nose pads or temples to avoid slippage, particularly when you perspire.

Sports sunglasses are available in a variety of styles, shapes and sizes and the type that is best for you largely depends on the activities you participate in and what they demand. It is best to consult with your eye doctor or optician to get a full picture of your eye, vision and athletic needs in order to find the best pair of sports sunglasses for you.

Low Vision


Low vision refers to significant vision impairment that usually results from serious eye disease or an injury. However, it isn't blindness as limited sight remains. The vision loss can't be fully corrected with glasses, contact lenses, medication or surgery.

Low vision can affect both children and older individuals but is more common in the elderly, who are at greater risk of sight-robbing eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts.

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Low vision causes

Leading causes of low vision include genetics, eye injury, brain injury, or eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or retinitis pigmentosa. Depending on the severity and type of vision impairment, the patient may have some remaining vision.

Low vision tends to be common in adults over age 75.

Below are the most common types of low vision:

  • Central vision loss: a blind spot in the center of vision.
  • Peripheral (side) vision loss: inability to see to the side, above below eye level, but perfect ability to see straight ahead.
  • Night blindness: struggling to see in poorly lit or dim environments such as evening or nighttime.
  • Blurry vision: when objects appear out of focus.
  • Hazy vision: feeling like you're looking at everything through a fog or a haze

How does low vision affect daily life?

For people with significant vision loss, completing daily tasks including reading, writing, cooking, and housework, watching television, driving, or even recognizing people can become a struggle.

Once one is diagnosed with low vision, it can come as a shock. Because low vision often results in one’s inability to work, function independently, drive and resume normal life, many patients feel isolated and depressed. Fortunately, there are numerous resources, aids and devices available to help maximize any remaining vision.

If you or someone you know is struggling with low vision, contact Eyes of New Mexico Family Optometry and Contact Lenses in Albuquerque today. We can help.

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Visual rehabilitation and visual aids

Vision loss ranges from mild visual impairment to legal blindness. Certain optometrists can evaluate your condition and offer an individualized rehabilitation plan to help you maximize remaining functional vision and increase independence in daily living.

What are visual aids?

Low-vision aids are designed to improve visual performance in those with low vision thus enriching daily experiences. Low vision aids are typically characterized into three main categories: non-optical, optical, and electronic.

Non-optical aids: are external adaptations that render daily tasks easier to undertake. These include large-print books, glare-proof sunglasses, and tactile dots.

Optical aids: Specialized lenses, such as telescopes and stand magnifiers, can enhance vision.

Electronic aids: this includes a range of technologies, such as closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs), screen readers, and head mounted eyewear displays, and more.

How to make life with low vision easier

  1. Ensure that you have adequate lighting in your home. This may require some trial and error with different lights to determine what works best for you.
  2. Use a magnifier. There is a vast selection of magnifiers available, ranging from hand-held to stand magnifiers. Binoculars and spectacle-mounted magnifiers are also an option.
  3. Your optometrist or low vision specialist can recommend specialized lens tints for certain conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa or cataracts, which enhance vision or reduce light sensitivity.
  4. Use large print books for reading. Alternatively, try digital recordings or mp3's.
  5. Make use of high contrast for writing. Try writing in large letters with a broad black pen on a white piece of paper or board.
  6. Adding a high-contrast stripe on steps (bright color on dark staircase, or black stripe on light stairs) can help prevent falls in people with low vision, and may enable them to remain independent in their home.
  7. Discover new and innovative technologies that can help you see better.

If you or a loved one has low vision, don’t despair. Consult with our eye doctor in Albuquerque regarding the best course of action to take to simplify your life.

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Low Vision Aids for Computer Users


Low vision is a condition, often caused by a number of eye diseases that damage parts of the eye, in which individuals have significantly reduced vision.

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Computer Use and Low Vision

Individuals with low vision have some sight, but usually, it is not sufficient to get by in daily life without some assistance. Often they are not able to read, drive, cook, or work on a computer without a visual aid. Today there are many low vision aids available on the market to help those with low vision to function independently in performing daily tasks.

Computer use is one activity that often requires assistance and the good news is the technology to aid computer users with low vision is always improving.

Here are some devices and programs on the market to help:

Text Magnifying

There are a number of ways to enlarge the text on your computer screen in addition to handheld magnifiers.

Via Your Computer Operating System: Both newer generation Windows and Mac operating systems have screen magnifiers built-in. These do not have as many capabilities as purchased screen reader programs but for many with mild low vision, they may be sufficient.

Via Browser: When using the Internet most browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer) allow you to change the size of the page or text on the screen to suit your needs. To enlarge the text on a PC simply hold down the Control (“Ctrl”) key on your keyboard and either tap the “+” key or roll the wheel on your mouse. To reduce the size tap the “-” key or turn the mouse wheel in the opposite direction. On a MAC, you press command and shift at the same time along with the “+” or “-” keys.

Additionally, the browser might have a drop-down option under the “view” tab that allows you to Zoom the screen in or out or make the text larger or smaller. Keep in mind that if you are using a larger higher quality screen, this will enable you to see bigger and more clearly as well.

Screen magnification programs: there are a number of free and paid software programs that will enlarge the text, picture and images on your computer screen.

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Screen Readers and Text to Speech Programs

There are a number of programs that enable you to “read” what is on the computer without needing to see it - these are designed for people that are totally blind as well. These programs work by scanning the text and icons on a page and converting it to speech which is read aloud. Some of these programs also have a cursor on the page that moves along with the voice.

Up to date Microsoft and Apple operating systems do have simple, built-in screen readers but they may be limited. The Chrome browser and Android devices do as well. Nevertheless, depending on your abilities, you may prefer to purchase a program with more comprehensive options and usability.

If you are looking for something simpler, text-to-speech programs exist in which you select a portion of the text you want to read and the program reads it for you.

Screen Contrast

Adjusting your screen to the highest contrast will enable the letters and images on the monitor to stand out. Font should be adjusted to achieve a dark text on a light background. Further it is advisable to reduce glare as much as possible. This may require adjusting window shades and indoor lights or even purchasing an anti-glare screen to reduce glare that can’t be eliminated.

Hardware

You can purchase special keyboards, mice and monitor magnifiers made specifically to enhance usability for those with low vision. Purchasing a large LCD screen for your monitor will also help to enhance visibility.
Computers can be a window to open our world to information, connections, work and play. Individuals with low vision can access all of this as well with the assistance of specialized software, devices and programs using the strengths and senses that they do possess.

Ask your eye doctor for more information about how we can help.

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