Vision Problems: Living With Poor Eyesight

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Vision Problems: Living With Poor Eyesight

Introduction

To keep doing the things you enjoy, you will want to make a few changes to your lifestyle. The changes you need to make depend on how much vision you have lost, what kinds of activities you like to do, and your lifestyle. Making changes may seem difficult and time-consuming. Be patient. You can keep your independence and continue the activities you enjoy.

 

Find your vision strengths. Adapting your lifestyle to poor eyesight is sometimes challenging and can involve changes in the way you do the activities you enjoy. But if you use your vision strengths, you can continue to do most—if not all—of your usual activities.

Find your vision strengths. Contact your local or provincial organization for the visually impaired for a low-vision evaluation to find out the limitations of your eyesight and what changes might help you take advantage of your strengths. A low-vision specialist can help you train your eyes to look around your blind spots. For example, if you have lost central vision, you can train your eyes to look at objects from your outer vision areas.

There are also many vision aids that are specially made for people who have poor eyesight, such as magnifiers that enlarge printed materials and special papers with bold lines for writing checks. A good low-vision evaluation can help you find out which vision aids would be most helpful for you.

Test Your Knowledge

Having a low-vision evaluation will help identify my vision strengths.

  • True
    This answer is correct.

    A low-vision evaluation can help identify your vision strengths.

  • False
    This answer is incorrect.

    A low-vision evaluation can help identify your vision strengths.

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Continue to Why?

 

Poor eyesight should not prevent you from having a full and active life. By adapting to your poor eyesight, you can continue to work, live independently, and do the leisure and recreational activities that you enjoy. The more vision adaptations and enhancing skills you learn and use, the more independent and active you can be.

Test Your Knowledge

If I enhance my remaining vision, I will be less dependent on other people.

  • True
    This answer is correct.

    If you enhance your remaining vision, you will be less dependent on other people. Poor eyesight should not prevent you from having a full and active life. By adapting to your poor eyesight and enhancing it as much as possible, you can continue to work, live independently, and do the leisure and recreational activities that you enjoy.

  • False
    This answer is incorrect.

    If you enhance your remaining vision, you will be less dependent on other people. Poor eyesight should not prevent you from having a full and active life. By adapting to your poor eyesight and enhancing it as much as possible, you can continue to work, live independently, and do the leisure and recreational activities that you enjoy.

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Continue to How?

 

Some simple changes can help you use your remaining vision to its full potential and allow you to live as independently as possible. The keys to success are as follows.

Make simple changes

  • Make a list of things you have trouble doing. Use the checklist for identifying low-vision aids for daily activities (What is a PDF document?).
  • Make simple accommodations at home that will help you manage your household chores and care for your personal needs.
  • Use low-vision aids and adaptive technology, such as lenses and other devices, to enhance your remaining vision.

These are a few ideas on how to make living with low vision easier and safer. Low-vision rehabilitation specialists can provide you with detailed information and training on managing your household and other activities that can be more challenging when you have reduced vision.

Use lighting

  • Position lighting so that it is aimed at what you want to see and aimed away from your eyes.
  • Add table and floor lamps in areas where extra lighting is often needed.
  • Use window coverings that let you to adjust the level of natural lighting.
  • Make sure potentially hazardous areas such as entries and stairways are well lit.

Use contrast

Contrast makes use of your eyes' ability to distinguish objects and their surroundings based on differences in brightness or colour, rather than shape or location. If you have low vision, you may need more light to be able to distinguish objects with similar brightness or colour (low contrast).

  • Place light objects against a dark background or dark objects against a light background. For example, if you have white or light-coloured walls, use dark switch plates to mark the location of light switches. You can also use lighted switches that glow softly and are easier to identify.
  • You can also use paint in a contrasting colour to mark electrical outlets, oven dials, thermostats, and other items so that they are easier to find and use.
  • Paint door frames in a contrasting colour; if the door is light, paint the frame with a dark colour. Use dark doorknobs on light-coloured doors.
  • In your bathroom, use contrasting colour for items such as cups, soap dishes, and even the soap.

Label and mark

  • Use high contrast, such as bold black lettering on a white background, when making labels, signs, and other markings. Post signs at eye level.
  • Label any medicines you take so that they are easily and clearly identified. Use coloured, high-contrast labels to "colour code" medicines, spices, foods, and other items.
  • Mark the positions of the temperature settings you use most frequently on your stove and oven controls, as well as the "on" and "off" positions. Some appliances have extra-large, high-contrast markings and indicators.
  • In the kitchen and bathroom, mark the settings for the faucets that provide the right water temperature. To prevent overfilling a sink or bathtub, mark the water level you want with a strip of waterproof tape or a waterproof marker.
  • Mark the areas around stairways and ramps with paint or tape, preferably with a high-contrast colour such as dark tape on light carpeting.

Avoid potential hazards

  • Replace or remove any worn carpeting or floor coverings. If you use throw rugs or area rugs, tape them down or remove them.
  • Avoid smooth floor coverings. And do not wax kitchen and bathroom floors. Use non-skid, non-glare cleaners on smooth floors.
  • Remove electrical cords from areas where you need to walk. If this is not possible, tape them down so you will not trip over them.
  • Arrange your furniture so that it does not stick out into areas where you need to walk. Keep chairs pushed in under tables and desks when not in use. Keep desk, cabinet, and bureau drawers closed.
  • Keep doors either fully opened or fully closed, but not halfway. Keep doors that stick out into a room or hallway closed.
  • Make sure the handrails on stairways and ramps extend beyond the top and bottom steps, because people often stumble when they miss a step at the top or bottom of an incline. Consider installing handrails in other potentially hazardous areas.

Low-vision aids

Low-vision aids are special lenses or electronic systems that make images appear larger. They may include:

  • Magnifying lenses. These may range from simple handheld lenses for reading to special eyeglasses or magnifiers much like the lenses that jewellers use. Some magnifying lenses have a built-in light for better illumination. And some are mounted on stands so your hands are free. For distance vision, small handheld telescopes or lenses that clip onto your eyeglasses may be used.
  • Video enlargement systems. These are electronic systems that include a closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) or video camera that can be used to transmit an enlarged image of print, pictures, or other items onto a screen where it is easier for you to see. These systems can also sometimes adjust brightness and contrast to make the enlarged image easier to see. Some video systems have both the camera and screens built into a head-mounted device that looks like a pair of large goggles, allowing a person to move around while using them.
  • Computer display and enlargement systems. Large screens and software that enlarge print, pictures, and other visual information are available. Computers also allow you to alter brightness, contrast, colour, and other parts of the display to make it easier to see what is on the screen. Computers are sometimes used with video enlargement systems.

Adaptive technology

Adaptive technology is used in devices or products that may not necessarily help you see better but can make life easier and safer. Many are designed to help you perform common tasks that may be more difficult when you have impaired vision. Examples of adaptive technology include:

  • Large-print items. Books, newspapers, magazines, medicine labels, bank checks, and playing cards are often available in large print. Many people with low vision also use recordings of books and other printed materials.
  • Special papers and writing aids. These may be something as simple as paper with extra-bold lines that help you write information on checks in the proper spaces.
  • Adaptive appliances. These are common household items that have been adapted for use by people with low vision. Examples are clocks and watches with electronic voices that announce the time or clocks, telephones, and calculators with extra-large buttons and numerals that can be seen more easily. Kitchen appliances such as ovens with similar features are also available.
  • Speech software for computer systems. Special software allows computers to recognize spoken commands or to convert dictated speech into text. Speech synthesis software allows computers to speak text and read documents.
  • Optical character recognition (OCR) software. OCR systems allow you to scan documents and convert them into computer text that can be enlarged for display or read aloud by a speech synthesis program.

Test Your Knowledge

There are many simple changes I can make that will help me take care of myself and do my household chores safely.

  • True
    This answer is correct.

    There are many simple changes you can make that will help you take care of yourself and do your household chores safely. For example, use dark switch plates for your light controls and mark the water level for your bathtub and sink.

  • False
    This answer is incorrect.

    There are many simple changes you can make that will help you take care of yourself and do your household chores safely. For example, use dark switch plates for your light controls and mark the water level for your bathtub and sink.

  •  

Continue to Where?

 

Now that you have read this information, you are ready to find ways to enhance your eyesight so that you can continue to care for yourself.

Talk with your eye specialist

If you have questions about this information, take it with you when you visit your eye specialist. You may want to mark areas or make notes in the margins of the pages where you have questions.

If you need help finding vision aids, talk with your eye specialist about having a low-vision evaluation by a low-vision specialist. A low-vision specialist can help you determine which aids will enhance your remaining vision.

If you would like more information about low-vision enhancements, the following resources are available:

Organizations

Canadian Diabetes Association
National Life Building
1400-522 University Avenue
Toronto, ON  M5G 2R5
Phone: (416) 363-0177
1-800-BANTING (1-800-226-8464)
Fax: (416) 408-7117
Email: info@diabetes.ca
Web Address: http://www.diabetes.ca
 

The Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) is devoted to meeting the needs of people with diabetes in Canada. This organization provides general information about diabetes and its care. It organizes summer camps for young people with diabetes and conducts educational seminars to help people manage their diabetes. The CDA also sells a range of products, including cookbooks, in its stores.


Canadian National Institute for the Blind
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, ON  M4G 3E8
Phone: (800) 563-2642
Fax: (416) 480-7677
Email: info@cnib.ca
Web Address: http://www.cnib.ca
 

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind is a voluntary agency dedicated to helping improve the lives of the blind and visually impaired, preventing blindness, and promoting sight enhancement services. The organization offers a variety of publications and educational resources about vision loss and impairment, including pamphlets, newsletters, and a quarterly magazine.


Canadian Ophthalmological Society
610-1525 Carling Avenue
Ottawa, ON  K1Z 8R9
Email: cos@eyesite.ca
Web Address: www.eyesite.ca/english/index.htm
 

The Canadian Ophthalmological Society is an association of eye doctors dedicated to helping the public take good care of their eyes and vision. This group provides educational information on eye conditions and diseases and eye safety.


Health Canada Diabetes Home Page
Web Address: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/dc-ma/diabete-eng.php
 

This Web site provides basic information about diabetes, as well as resources for and information about national programs in Canada for monitoring, preventing, and treating diabetes.


National Aboriginal Diabetes Association (NADA)
B1-90 Garry Street
Winnipeg, MB  R3C 4J4
Phone: (204) 927-1220
1-877-232-6232 toll-free
Fax: (204) 927-1222
Email: diabetes@nada.ca
Web Address: www.nada.ca
 

The mission of the National Aboriginal Diabetes Association (NADA) is to address diabetes among Aboriginal peoples as a priority health issue. It supports individuals, families, and communities to access resources for diabetes prevention, education, and research in culturally respectful ways; partners with organizations committed to the prevention and management of diabetes; and promotes community wellness as a strategy to prevent diabetes.


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Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Carol L. Karp, MD - Ophthalmology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Last Revised May 11, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.