Travel Tips For People With Eye Disorders

Posted by Able News, By the Orientation and Mobility Instructors of Lighthouse Guild 

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, affecting more than 3 million people in the United States alone.  

It is often called the silent thief of sight because it robs people of vision slowly and without early symptoms. However, regular eye exams can lead to early diagnosis and help prevent vision loss. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month.  

People who already have vision loss due to glaucoma, as well as those with other eye disorders, can face challenges traveling as their vision changes. Problems with reading, bright lights/glare, peripheral vision and walking due to the inability to see curbs, steps, small obstacles and uneven sidewalks may seem insurmountable.

However, there are some guidelines that can help people maintain their independence and move around safely and with confidence in their communities and beyond.  

Travelers should gather information about destinations and decide the best method to get there as far in advance as possible. They should ask customer service representatives for help getting around bus and train stations and airports.

It is important to hold on to handrails when exiting and entering buses and to ask bus drivers to announce stops. They should ask fellow passengers if the train pulling into the station is the expected train. One can avoid missing the right stop on the train by being familiar with the names of other stops and allowing enough time to get off the train.  

Travelers should call ahead to airports at least 48-hours in advance to arrange assistance with check-in, boarding and baggage claim.  

They should also consider receiving training with a white cane. White canes have worked for more than 100 years, and they remain one of the best tools to provide tactile information, as well as identify a person as legally blind.  

Technology also offers solutions, including screen readers, voice over for smart phones and apps that can identify money and objects and help with independent travel.  

People with vision impairment may feel anxious about crossing streets, navigating in unfamiliar areas or taking public transportation. Vision rehabilitation and mobility training can provide techniques and skills to improve safety and travel independence.

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