Low Vision Services

Low Vision Overview

Do you feel like you don’t have enough vision to do the things you want to do? We’re here to help.

At Helen Keller Services for the Blind (HKSB), you may receive an eye exam from a doctor certified in New York State as a low vision specialist. You will be asked about your eye care history and how your sight affects your ability to accomplish everyday tasks like shopping, reading large print, writing checks, walking indoors and out, and more. Then we will attempt to prescribe visual aids in an effort to help you to see a little bit better--but sometimes a little can mean a lot. It’s like physical therapy for sight, working with what you have to make small improvements that can have a positive impact on your quality of life.

Our doctors are not meant to replace your primary eye care provider; they’re here to help you to explore an area of care that is not surgical or medicine based: the use of optical aids and adaptive techniques to utilize remaining vision in an optimal manner.

Man fits woman for corrective lenses. Woman sits in chair

Visual Aids

In low vision eye care, sight enhancement might be achieved through the use of two types of visual aids:

Lens-Based Optical Aids

  • Lighted magnifiers, both hand held and stand magnifiers of varied powers
  • Pocket-sized telescopes for distance spotting.
  • Conventional glasses and sunglasses but of a higher lens strength
  • Near-vision, prism-based spectacles
  • Glare-control lenses
  • Frame-mounted near-vision aids similar to what a dentist might use
  • Frame-mounted onto a lens telescopes or all-in-one telescopic frame-based distance vision telescopic multi-lens focusable devices

Electronic Visual Aids (battery powered or plug in)

  • Frame mounted onto a lens telescopes or all in one telescopic frame based distance
  • Desktop video magnifiers (closed-circuit, large monitor style)
  • Handheld video magnifiers (portable with screen sizes up to 7 inches)
  • Camera fittings into a headset for distance and near-zooming ability.
  • Applications for smartphones and other technology.

At HKSB, you’ll work closely with the low vision specialist to determine which aids might be right for you, and you’ll receive training on how to use and care for them.

Other Ways to Maximize Vision

Sometimes it’s more about techniques than technology. Our low vision doctors will give you guidance on the best ways to use your sight and protect your remaining vision.

Simple things like changing the lighting in your home, using contrasting background colors or taking steps to minimize glare might make a real difference for you.

The more you understand how and why your vision is changing the better prepared you will be to make modifications that will enable you to use your remaining sight to your best advantage.

A Tradition of Excellence

Building on a legacy of service that dates back to 1893, HKSB was the first organization of its kind to offer an in-house low vision eye service. Since the launch of the low vision program in 1953, thousands of people have benefited from this service.


Proof of legal blindness is required for admission. Services are free if you if you meet the eligibility requirements and participate in a NYS Commission for the Blind rehabilitation program. Certain optical aids and adaptive equipment are provided based on economic need. 

Contact us for more information