Low vision Overview

A specialist in Mayo Clinic’s Low Vision Specialty Group helps a patient learn a reading tool.

If you have untreatable vision loss, the Mayo Clinic Low Vision Specialty Group can help you make the most of the vision you have. If you've had to stop some activities because of decreased vision, our specialists can help maximize your functional vision and maintain your independence. Our goal is to preserve your quality of life. We provide counseling and assist with navigating the psychosocial impact of vision loss by connecting patients with appropriate services.

Low vision means having impaired vision that cannot be corrected by glasses, surgery or medication. The most common cause of low vision is macular degeneration, an age-related disease that affects the central portion of the visual field. Other common causes include glaucoma, cataracts and diabetes. We provide care to patients throughout their life, from the initial onset of vision loss to the end stages of ocular disease.

Low vision affects every person differently and requires individualized counselling to identify strategies that can help.


The Mayo Clinic Low Vision team offers an array of optical devices and strategies to help you.

  • Electronic technology. Many high-tech vision aids are available. They include video reading systems that enlarge type 60 times, auto-focus spectacle telescopes and talking computer systems.
  • Special eyeglasses. Stronger-than-typical bifocal or trifocal glasses help you see better. We also offer high-power, prismatic "half-eye" reading glasses. These help the good spots in one eye cancel out the bad spots in another.
  • Magnifiers. Magnification devices can be hand-held, free-standing or mounted to eyeglasses. You can also wear magnifiers around your neck. Many models have a built-in light or incorporate various levels of magnification.
  • Telescopes. A variety of miniature telescopes and binoculars, some worn like eyeglasses, may help you with distance viewing.
April 15, 2023