Low vision is a term, coined in the early 1950's by Eleanor E. Faye, MD, around the time she in collaboration with Gerald Fonda, MD, were operating one of the first low vision clinics in the world, at The New York Assocation for the Blind (now Lighthouse International; the very first such clinic had opened a few months earlier at the Industrial Home for the Blind (now Helen Keller Services for the Blind). Low vision refers to the ability to use remaining vision after due to loss of substantial visual function from disease, trauma or congenital condition. As a term, low vision emphasizes seeing rather than loss or diminution of vision. Low vision research focuses on how people may make best use of remaining sight, or how they may obtain rehabilitation services that help them to do so. A good source for literature on almost all aspects of low vision is Low vision: The Reference (LV:TR), a bibliographic database edited by Drs. Gregory Goodrich and Aries Arditi. This database contains many literature references on low vision that are not available in standard medical bibliographic databases. LV:TR is free, and can be accessed and searched online at this web site.
A lot of our research over the years has focused on low vision, both in how to make print, the web, computers, and the navigable world more visually accessible when vision is low, and in how to empower people to use their remaining vision to best advantage. We've also written about the history (1,2) of the field, about international issues in low vision (1,2), and about research priorities for low vision ((1,2). One paper that we think gives an interesting overview of the older low vision population and offers a lot of insight into how and why those with low vision do not form strong social and political groups to advocate for themselves was published a few years ago by AARP, and is available here.