How can infections cause low vision?

Sometimes a woman gets sick while her baby is growing inside her. The baby may get sick, too, before it is born. Sometimes the sickness hurts the baby's eyes. The eyes may be hurt before the baby is born, or while the baby is being born. The germs can make scars on the back of the eye. The back of the eye is called the retina. It sends vision to the brain. If it has scars, they make spots where no vision can travel to the brain. These spots are called scotomas.

The front of the eye is called the cornea. It may also be scarred by infections. Sometimes doctors can fix some of the scarring on the cornea. They can take off part of the cornea. Sometimes they take off the whole cornea and put on another one.

The names of some sicknesses that hurt babies' eyes are cytomegalovirus, herpes, toxocara and toxoplasmosis.

What causes infections?

Infections make people sick when they are not strong enough to fight the germs. Little babies and people who are weak or have other diseases can be hurt by infections. If people do not have enough good food, infections can make them sicker.

What kind of vision do people have who have eye damage from infections?

People whose eyes were hurt by infection can only see part of what they are facing. They have to move their eyes or their heads to see all the parts. Sometimes this kind of vision is called "Swiss cheese" vision. Swiss cheese has holes in it. If you look through Swiss cheese, you will only see part of what you are facing. That is how things look if a person has scars on his or her retina.

Sometimes the scars are in the center of the retina on the macula. The macula has nerves that send the brain clear, color images with lots of detail. If the scars are on the macula, it is hard to read letters and to see small pictures.

Sometimes the scars are on the outer part of the retina, which is called the periphery. If the scars are there, it is hard to see things when the light is dim. It is hard to see at night or in a dark theater. People with scars in the periphery of the retina may not see things to the side or down below. They may trip over things or bump into things when they are walking.

What can help you if you have scars from an infection?

Many things can help you if you have these scars. You will have to choose the ones that work for you.

  1. Wear sunglasses and a hat in the sun if they help you see better on sunny days.
  2. Move your head around to see all the parts of whatever you are looking at.
  3. Use a white cane to let you know what is in front of you. That way you will not trip or bump into things.
  4. Make things look bigger if it helps you see them better. The easy way to make things look bigger is to move them close to you or move yourself close to them. Use a bookstand to hold your book so that you can sit up to look at it up close. Maybe a magnifier will help you see things close to you. You can make print and pictures bigger on the computer, a CCTV or with a copy machine.
  5. Make things look smaller if you can see small things better. The easy way to make things look smaller is too move away from them or to move them away from you. You can also use a computer, a CCTV or a copy machine to make pictures and print smaller. If you hold a monocular telescope or a pair of binoculars up to your eyes backwards, things will look smaller and you may see a wider view. Try it with a telescope that usually makes things two to four times bigger.
  6. Use braille and listening for some learning if reading print is hard.
  7. Try to get lights that you can make bright or dim yourself.

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