Practical Tips about Dealing with Low Vision from Lighthouse Guild
Low vision affects millions of Americans, including many older adults. Low vision can make it hard to do things like reading, shopping, cooking, or writing. And it cannot be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, medications, or surgery.
Vision rehabilitation, however, can help people with low vision stay independent and make the most of their sight. February is Low Vision Awareness Month, a time to learn more about low vision and spread the word about vision rehabilitation services.
“The three main causes of low vision and blindness in the United States are glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic eye disease,” says Calvin W. Roberts, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lighthouse Guild. “For all of these disorders, early detection is key,” he adds. “The good news is that new technologies and rehabilitation can make life easier and more fulfilling for people with low vision.”
Get your eyes tested
You do not always experience symptoms before you lose vision to eye diseases. Only a comprehensive eye exam can detect such disorders as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease in their early stages. Check-in with your eye care provider about guidelines for scheduling appointments during COVID-19.
“The brain can adapt to vision loss and make it difficult to know if you are having vision issues,” Dr. Roberts explains. “You may be losing vision and not even realize it until it is too late, so we urge people to have a comprehensive eye exam that can detect issues and help preserve your vision.”
If you are experiencing low vision, here are some practical tips that can help you:
- Use contrast to distinguish items, such as a dark bathmat with rubber backing on a light floor, a light cutting board on a dark countertop, and white sheets with a dark comforter and pillows.
- Use night lights, a flashlight, or hall or room lighting if you get up in the night.
- Avoid moving quickly from a dark room to a lighted area, and vice versa; give your eyes time to adjust to changing light levels.
- Use overhead lighting to help eliminate shadows and keep rooms evenly lit.
- Use shades on all light sources to reduce glare.
- Sit with your back towards a window or lamp. Use a gooseneck lamp for tabletop activities.
- Embrace technology! Video magnifiers, audio and electronic books, smartphones, and tablets enable you to change the font size and lighting level or magnify what’s on a screen. There are also apps that can help you identify money, colors and navigate your surroundings.
“With the help of a supportive eye care team and vision rehabilitation, living with vision impairment can be less challenging,” says Dr. Roberts.
Lighthouse Guild is dedicated to providing exceptional services that inspire people who are visually impaired to attain their goals. We provide coordinated care for eye health, vision rehabilitation and behavioral health as well as related services. Our podcast series, “On Tech & Vision with Dr. Cal Roberts” offers information and insights about technological innovations that are tearing down barriers for people who are blind or visually impaired. For more information, visit Lighthouseguild.org.