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Low Vision

5 Adjustments To Make Around The House For People With Low Vision

senior couple at home 640×350

Home improvement can upgrade the look and feel of your living space. But for those with low vision, the right setup can be the difference between constantly relying on others and functioning independently.

At Clinic for Vision PC Low Vision Center, we understand the importance of feeling self-sufficient and continuing to do the things you love after vision loss. To that end, we’ve shared a few tips to help you adapt your home and help you live a higher quality of life.

1. Increase the Color Contrast

Make sure you strategically place bright contrasting colors around the house to help identify and locate items. For example, keep your phone, keys or wallet in a bright tray or dish so they’re easy to find.

Consider replacing cabinet and doorknobs with colors that stand out. For instance, choosing black knobs on white cabinets and doors will make it easier for you to find and grasp them. You can also add brightly colored tape to kitchen utensils and remote controls. We further recommend you place brightly colored non-slip tape or a contrasting or textured strip of flooring in front of a staircase to alert you to the stairs.

Contrasting colors are just as useful for preparing food and beverages. Pour dark liquids (like coffee or tea) into white mugs, and light liquids (like milk) into darker colored mugs. If your mugs blend in with the color of your countertops, consider purchasing new ones in a contrasting color.

2. Furnish Thoughtfully

People with low vision may struggle to maintain eye contact or recognize faces of those who are far away. For this reason, it’s worth moving sofas and armchairs close together.

Moreover, when choosing furniture, focus on differences in texture and size. It’s often easier for someone with low vision to identify a piece of furniture through touch rather than sight.

3. Bring in More Light

Think floor lamps, desk lamps, and sheer window curtains — anything that increases lighting will make it easier to read, cook, do crafts and other activities.

Desk lamps should be bright and be fitted with a lightbulb that’s at least 75w.

4. Use Technology

Consult with your low vision optometrist regarding which optimal low vision digital aids and devices you can use to help you read and identify household items with ease. Some options include closed caption television video magnifiers, handheld video magnifiers and wearable digital headsets.

5. Make Your Space Hazard-Free

Consider removing rugs or securing their edges to prevent accidental trips and falls, and ensure that all pathways are free of electrical cords and clutter.

If your home has a tiled floor, be sure there aren’t any loose, uneven or broken pieces that can easily be overlooked. Additionally, when washing your floors, opt for non-glare detergents that don’t leave a waxy finish.

Living with low vision can be difficult, but making your home more suited to your visual needs will make daily living easier.

Your low vision optometrist at Clinic for Vision PC Low Vision Center makes it a priority to provide personalized care and attention to ensure the best possible outcome. After thoroughly examining your eyes and assessing your degree of vision loss, Dr. Kate McCurdy will recommend low vision aids and devices to help you maximize your vision and enjoy a better quality of life.

If you or a family member live with low vision or have been diagnosed with a sight-threatening eye condition, call Clinic for Vision PC Low Vision Center to schedule a low vision consultation today.

Clinic for Vision PC Low Vision Center serves patients from Albertville, Boaz, Guntersville, and Crossville, Alabama and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Nichols

Q: What is low vision?

  • A: An individual is defined as having ‘low vision’ if their fully corrected vision is insufficient to do what you want to do. Fortunately, there’s hope for those with low vision. A low vision eye doctor can offer vision aids and devices to maximize remaining vision.

Q: What are low vision aids and devices?

  • A: Low vision aids are a combination of special lenses and devices that maximize any usable vision to help patients recognize faces, watch TV, read and carry out daily tasks. Common low vision aids include low vision glasses like microscopes, telescopes, filters and prisms. There are also electronic visual aids and optical magnifiers.


Living With Legal Blindness

Living With Legal Blindness 640

Being legally blind affects how you go about your daily tasks and how you navigate the world around you. Legal blindness is defined as having 20/200 vision or less. This means that an object that appears clear to a person with a perfect vision from 200 feet away, is only clear to a legally blind person at a maximum distance of 20 feet away.

Legal blindness is also defined as having a visual field of 20 degrees or less. Those with this type of vision have severe difficulties in mobility, yet see sharply with their central vision.

Depending on the underlying cause of your condition, you may experience a lack of color contrast, color distortions, loss of depth perception, difficulty with excessive glare, sensitivity to bright light or night blindness. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep doing the things you love, even with low vision.

Tips for Living With Vision Loss

Having low vision demands certain adjustments. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and be able to engage in the tasks you most enjoy.

Cooking Safety

Being unable to see a cutting surface or an oven rack can be dangerous, but there are several ways to adapt your cooking techniques.

  • To avoid burns from reaching into a hot oven, use an oven rack grabber or long oven mitts. You can also place tape over the knobs for the back burners to avoid using them altogether, then you don’t need to reach over a potentially hot flame.
  • Try to fry or grill foods with a small indoor air fryer or grill; it’s much safer than pan-frying on the stove.
  • Instead of using your stovetop or oven, use a slow cooker.
  • Use a pair of scissors instead of a knife to cut food and packaging.

Lighting

Ample lighting is crucial for people with significant vision loss. When lighting your home and work areas, remember to implement the following tips.

  • Keep all rooms evenly lit so that your eyes don’t have to adjust to changes in lighting when walking from one room to another.
  • Use compact fluorescent or LED bulbs instead of incandescent light bulbs. They’re more energy-efficient and produce a brighter light.
  • Depending on your lighting needs, use task lamps that you can move closer or farther away from your work.
  • When writing, avoid shadows by positioning your work lamp on the other side of your writing hand, with the paper sandwiched between your hand and the lamp.

Hobbies/Activities

Being legally blind doesn’t mean you have to give up on your favorite activities or hobbies. Here are a few tips to help those with low vision enjoy taking part in various activities and hobbies:

  • Enjoy playing cards or Bingo? Purchase large print or Braille cards.
  • Enjoy going to the movie theater? Ask whether they have an audio description service—headphones that play the sounds of the movie along with a narrator that describes the characters and scenes.
  • Sports lover? Listen to sporting events on the radio. Radio announcers provide a more detailed description of the game.
  • Enjoy arts and crafts? Use a tactile ruler or tape measure.
  • Like sewing? Anchor your sewing needles in a cork or bar of soap to thread them.

Computer Use

Nowadays, computers offer many features to enlarge text or add contrast for easier readability. In addition, you can also:

  • Purchase stickers to place over the keys on your existing keyboard
  • Use a large print or Braille keyboard.
  • Learn keyboard shortcut commands to help you rely less on the mouse pointer.
  • Use additional accessibility software, like speech-to-text software or a screen reading program.
  • Use a larger monitor.

While experiencing vision loss may at first seem like the end of the world, there are so many ways you can still live a full and productive life. People with low vision or partial vision can benefit from a variety of visual aids to maximize their remaining vision. Regardless of one’s degree of vision loss, a person can benefit from accessible smartphone apps, e-readers, and many other types of adaptive technology.

Contact Clinic for Vision PC Low Vision Center to learn more about low vision devices, eyewear and technologies that can help you live life to the fullest. Our low vision optometrist will work with you and prescribe the best devices to suit your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Nichols

Q: What is low vision?

  • A: An individual is defined as having ‘low vision’ if their fully corrected vision is insufficient to do what you want to do. Fortunately, there’s hope for those with low vision. A low vision eye doctor can offer vision aids and devices to maximize remaining vision.

Q: What are low vision aids and devices?

  • A: Low vision aids are a combination of special lenses and devices that maximize any usable vision to help patients recognize faces, watch TV, read and carry out daily tasks. Common low vision aids include low vision glasses like microscopes, telescopes, filters and prisms. There are also electronic visual aids and optical magnifiers.
  • Clinic for Vision PC Low Vision Center serves patients from Albertville, Boaz, Guntersville, and Crossville, all throughout Alabama.


How To Cope With Vision Loss

Smiling Optometrist low vision eye exam 640×350A wide range of factors can lead to vision loss and the speed at which your vision deteriorates. For certain patients, changes to vision can occur quickly, as a result of eye diseases like untreated retinal detachment, wet macular degeneration or eye trauma. In other cases, vision loss is often very gradual, developing over many years and even decades, as in the case of open-angle glaucoma and dry macular degeneration.

Adjusting to visual impairment takes time and patience—but you don’t have to go through it alone. We can help. Below, we offer some tips to help you or a loved one with any degree of vision loss live a more fulfilling, independent and enjoyable life.

 

1. Visit a Low Vision Optometrist

Low vision optometrists are experienced in working with people who have low vision. They offer a low vision evaluation to determine how much vision you have and assess which tasks are giving you trouble. They will then prescribe low vision glasses and devices to allow you to do what you want to do.

2. Give your eyes a break

Eye fatigue is a very real and common side effect of vision loss. Many sight-threatening eye diseases cause symptoms like reduced color contrast, color and shape distortion, and light and glare sensitivity, among others.

All of these symptoms put a great deal of stress on the visual system since your brain works overtime to try and make sense of the distorted images your eyes are sending.

Make sure that your eyes are getting the rest they need by closing them for a few minutes at a time throughout your day, especially during visually taxing activities. Many patients also find it helpful to take power naps when possible.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Although it may be hard at first, asking for help from family, friends and even strangers may be necessary at any stage of vision loss.

We understand that asking for assistance may feel uncomfortable, but truth is—most people are happy to offer a helping hand.

4. Try slowing down

Moving at the same pace you once did can be dangerous after vision loss sets in. Give yourself the extra time you need to complete tasks, both routine and unfamiliar ones.

For example, if you’ve dropped an object, bend down slowly and cautiously to avoid accidentally bumping your head into something along the way.

5. Keep things [organized]

If it feels like you’re spending too much time trying to locate objects around the house, you may need a better organization system.

Keeping things in a set place will save time and energy. It also fosters independence and [minimizes] daily stress.

Using bold-colored labels, puffy paint, stickers, pins, and filing systems can all help keep objects neat and easily accessible.

Customize your [organizational] system to suit your needs — and stick to it. It will take some getting used to at first, but will ultimately be worth the effort.

6. Start relying on your other senses

Using your other senses like touch and hearing can be incredibly helpful when trying to get things done.

Using your hearing to detect an oncoming vehicle at a crosswalk will help you better navigate the road. Or using your hands to scan a surface when looking for your phone or keys can be more effective than trying to spot them visually.

Whether you’ve been living with low vision for a while or have received a recent diagnosis, we can help. At Clinic for Vision PC Low Vision Center, we understand the challenges that accompany low vision and make it our mission to improve the lives of our patients so they can live a more independent life.

If you or a loved one has experienced any degree of vision loss, call Clinic for Vision PC Low Vision Center today to schedule your low vision consultation.

Clinic for Vision PC Low Vision Center serves patients from Albertville, Boaz, Guntersville, Crossville, and throughout Alabama.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Nichols

Q: #1: What is low vision?

  • A: People with low vision can achieve no better than 20/70 vision, even with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Low vision is typically caused by eye injuries and eye diseases, among other factors.

Q: #2: What are low vision aids and devices?

  • A: Low vision aids are a combination of special lenses and devices that maximize any usable vision to help patients read, recognize faces, watch TV, and carry out daily tasks. Common low vision aids include low vision glasses like telescopes, microscopes, prisms, filters, electronic visual aids and optical magnifiers. Your low vision eye doctor will work with you to prescribe the most effective devices for your needs.


Why Do Seniors Often Overestimate How Well They Can See?

woman drinking coffee 640It may be hard to believe, but many people with sight-threatening eye diseases are completely unaware of their condition until they suffer irreversible vision loss. That’s especially true of people 60 and older, who are the ones most likely to develop these conditions.

Many eye conditions and diseases can creep up slowly, with no discernible symptoms in their early stages.

In one Swedish study of 1,200 seventy-year-olds, 6 out of 10 didn’t realize that their vision was subpar, or that there were ways to maximize their remaining vision with certain glasses or a stronger lens prescription.

The study concluded that many seniors overestimate their eye health, largely because the symptoms of eye disease can develop gradually and often go unnoticed.

Conditions That Can Slowly Impair Vision

Here are some common causes of vision impairment that don’t always have obvious warning signs, at least early on. If you or a loved one experiences any of the following symptoms, contact Clinic for Vision PC Low Vision Center to schedule a prompt eye exam.

Cataracts

When the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy, cataracts are to blame. They are often a natural part of the aging process, which is why most cases of cataracts occur in people over the age of 50. Depending on the location and intensity of the cataract, it can interfere with vision and may need to be surgically removed.

Symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Blurry or dim vision
  • Perceiving colors as faded
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Frequent changes in lens prescription
  • Sensitivity to light

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is an eye disease that affects the macula (the central portion of the retina) and causes central vision loss. Having a functioning macula allows us to read, watch TV, recognize faces and see fine details.

Symptoms of AMD include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Seeing straight lines as distorted or wavy
  • Difficulty reading
  • Oversensitivity to glare
  • Needing bright light to perform close work

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. It typically affects both eyes and can lead to peripheral vision loss, known as ‘Tunnel Vision.’ Left untreated, glaucoma can eventually cause total blindness.

The early stages of glaucoma do not have any obvious signs, meaning frequent eye exams are essential. Symptoms of middle to late stages of glaucoma include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain
  • Red eyes
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Reduced peripheral vision
  • Seeing rings around lights
  • Sensitivity to light

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR)

DR is a complication of type 1 and 2 diabetes that damages the blood vessels in the retina. The longer a person has diabetes, the higher their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Controlling your blood sugar helps to minimize eye damage.

Symptoms of DR include:

  • Gradually worsening vision
  • Impaired color vision
  • Dark areas in your visual field
  • Blurred vision
  • Sudden increase in floaters

Our Low Vision Optometrist Can Help

Here’s the bottom line: many eye conditions and diseases develop gradually, waving no red flags until the eye is irreversibly damaged. That’s why comprehensive annual eye exams are so crucial for individuals over the age of 60, even if they believe that their eyes are healthy.

At Clinic for Vision PC Low Vision Center, our low vision team uses the latest diagnostic technology to ensure the most accurate examination and diagnosis. If any signs of eye disease are found, don’t worry —we can help.

We offer various low vision aids and devices so that you can continue living your life to the fullest.

Vision impairment doesn’t have to stop you from doing the things you love. To schedule your low vision consultation, call Clinic for Vision PC Low Vision Center in Albertville today.

Q&A

Q: #1: What are low vision aids?

  • A: They are devices that help people with reduced vision to read, watch TV, recognize faces, and carry out daily tasks. They work by [maximizing] any usable vision and include magnifiers, closed-circuit television, telescope glasses, and more. Your low vision optometrist will help you decide which devices best meet your lifestyle needs.

Q: #2: What can cause low vision?

  • A: People with low vision have visual impairments that can’t be corrected by surgery, medication, or any traditional eye correction methods, like standard glasses and contact lenses. Low vision can be caused by an eye injury, eye diseases like macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, aging and accidents, among other causes.

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