What is low vision, and is it covered by vision insurance?

July 06, 2021 at 5:00 am

Optometrist checking older adult male's sight with slit lamp

“I need glasses – that means I have low vision, right?”


So, what is low vision? Low vision is the loss of sight that is not correctible with prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery. This type of vision loss does not include complete blindness, because there is still some sight, and it can sometimes be improved with the use of visual aids.  Low vision includes different degrees of sight loss, from blind spots, poor night vision and problems with glare, to an almost complete loss of sight. 

The most common types of low vision include:

Loss of central vision
A blind spot in the center of your vision.

Loss of peripheral vision
Central vision is intact, but unable to see anything in your periphery - either side, above, or below eye level.

Night blindness
Unable to see in low light, like restaurants, theaters or at nighttime.

Blurred vision
Vision up close and far away appear blurry or out of focus.

Hazy vision
Vision is hazy, as if covered with a film or glare.

Low vision is common but not a frequent occurrence in working-age adults, affecting just one in six individuals over age 45. It is more prevalent in older adults due to age-related conditions like glaucoma or macular degeneration, affecting one in four individuals over 75*. It is understandable then that group benefit utilization rates for low vision are typically quite low, comprising less than 1% of claims, based on BrightBenefits’ book of business, 2020. Often, low vision coverage is not even included in plan designs because of this, but BrightBenefits does offer vision plans that provide coverage specifically for low vision needs. 

BrightVision, powered by Davis Vision, and BrightVision Essential, powered by VSP, both cover low vision care and devices. Both product suites offer coverage on the initial low vision evaluation and follow up visits, plus a health allowance for any necessary aids or devices. Popular low vision aids include telescopic glasses, lenses that filter light, magnifying glasses, hand magnifiers, closed-circuit television and reading prisms. Limitations and exclusions do apply, so talk to a BrightBenefits representative for more information on low vision coverage options. 

When quoting vision plans, be sure to highlight features that resonate with your client’s specific needs, which may be a low vision benefit. And just like any plan feature, it is important to understand the benefit coverage, balanced with the need and expected usage of the group population. Learn more about BrightBenefits vision product offerings here.



*Reference: Cleveland Clinic https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8585-low-vision  

Plan information outlined in this article is a summary of policy coverage. If differences exist between this article and the plan contract, the contract will prevail. Products in the state of New York are underwritten by Commercial Travelers Life Insurance Company. In all other states, they are underwritten by National Guardian Life Insurance Company, Madison, WI. National Guardian Life Insurance Company is not affiliated with the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, a/k/a The Guardian or Guardian Life. Davis Vision and VSP are third party administrators. BLG070121