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Home » Low Vision Eye Diseases » Achromatopsia

Does Achromatopsia Disturb and Dull Your Vision?

Speak to an IALVS eye doctor about helpful low vision aids and filtered eyewear!

eyes senior man caucasian bwAchromatopsia is a rare, inherited condition in which there is a partial or total lack of color vision. Instead, patients see everything in grayscale, suffer extreme light sensitivity, can have blurred vision and experience other visual problems.

Most achromats find that filtered eyeglasses, contact lenses, and sun filters are very effective at controlling the amount of light that enters their eyes, and then a range of low vision devices can be fit to enhance visual function. Our IALVS eye doctors are qualified to diagnose and evaluate achromatopsia in order to fit each patient with an individualized low vision solution.

Ways in which your IALVS doctor can improve vision with achromatopsia

Children and adults with achromatopsia will find it difficult, if not impossible, to ride a bike, drive a car, or play sports in the sunny outdoors. When indoors, watching TV, reading, and working on a computer can be challenging. Depending on your visual and lifestyle needs, we may recommend different low vision devices, such as:

  • Filtered lenses to reduce light and glare
  • Reading glasses and bifocals to improve comfort and clarity when focusing on near tasks
  • Optical magnifiers for quick spot reading of fine print
  • Monocular telescopes to see distant objects, such as street signs and a classroom board
  • Bioptic eyewear that combines prescription glasses with specialized mounted telescopes
  • Computer accessories to enlarge the font and sharpen visual contrast on the screen

What is achromatopsia?

The healthy eye has two primary types of photoreceptor cells in the retina that function to capture the visual field: rod cells and cone cells. The rod cells work at night and in dim light; they are insensitive to color and do not give detailed vision. The cone cells function in bright light, and they provide central vision as well as color vision. When the cone cells do not work properly, color vision and visual acuity are affected. This condition is not progressive, and while it can cause low vision, it doesn’t lead to blindness.

What are the main symptoms of achromatopsia?

Usually, achromatopsia is detected first by the parents of a young child with the condition. The child may complain about bright lights and avoid going outdoors in the daytime. Another noticeable symptom is nystagmus, where their eyes may twitch and move involuntarily. Sometimes, parents realize that their child’s vision is blurred because of certain behaviors, but most of the time kids with achromatopsia have no problems moving or getting around.

What causes achromatopsia?

Genetic mutations in the genes that control the function of cone cells lead to achromatopsia. The condition is autosomal recessive, which means that an affected person inherited the gene mutation from both parents. Typically, each parent carries only one mutated copy of the achromatopsia-linked gene, and the parents do not exhibit any signs of the visual disorder.

How is achromatopsia treated?

As the level of light increases, the vision of individuals with achromatopsia decreases. In regular indoor lighting, or outdoors in very low lighting, some people with achromatopsia can adapt and see adequately without wearing tinted lenses. They learn to implement strategies, such as shielding their eyes or squinting. Other people with this vision condition need to wear medium tinted eyeglasses lenses.

However, in full sunlight, just about everyone with achromatopsia needs to wear glasses with very dark tinted lenses in order to see reasonably.

Contact an IALVS doctor near you for help

Most patients with achromatopsia respond well to filtered eyewear, specialized glasses, and various other low vision aids. IALVS eye doctors attend educational seminars regularly to stay up-to-date about the latest low vision devices, and we are specially trained to match them to each individual’s condition. We aim to optimize sight to maximize your enjoyment of life!

Screenshot 2019 03 29 How the IALVS helps patients with Achromatopsia YouTube

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