Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
Low Vision: Causes & Coping
Michelle Velting – Therapy Manager, Porter Hills Home Care
February is Low Vision month. This blog will explore the definition of low vision, causes of low vision and techniques for coping with visual deficits to remain independent as long as possible.
What is low vision?
- Definition: a visual impairment that interferes with the ability to perform everyday activities and is not corrected by standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication or surgery. This differs from total blindness in that the person with Low Vision has some useful sight.
- 17% of people over the age of 65
- 85% of people with eye disorders have low vision
- Early symptoms:
o Difficulty recognizing objects at a distance
o Difficulty is seeing well up close
o Difficulty differentiating colors (particularly in the green/blue range
What are the main causes?
Low vision is NOT a natural part of aging. Low vision is caused by eye diseases:
Treatment / Strategies
- Treatments (medication) may not CURE low vision, but my PROLONG sight
- Knowledge is key to living with visual impairments
Products and techniques for coping with/prolonging independence.
Functioning in your home easily and safely.
- Remove clutter, cords, and throw rugs to avoid falls.
- Place furniture and appliances in traffic patterns that feel comfortable to you.
- Be sure the color of grab bars or other equipment contrasts with the wall.
- Maintain good lighting in walkways, hallways, stairwells, etc.
- Hang clothes by color in closets (put similar colors, like black and navy, on opposite sides), and use different hampers for similar colors to keep them sorted.
Shop for groceries and other items.
- Make a list of what you need according to where the items are found in the aisles.
- Shop online or use stores that offer delivery services.
Manage your medications.
- Ask your physician to clearly describe and explain new medications, and ask your pharmacist for large-print labels.
- Mark each pill bottle in a distinctive way to make them easier to identify (e.g., attach Velcro, felt, rubber bands, a button, etc.).
- Use large-print pill boxes or a talking medication reminder.
- 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.
- 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; allow your eyes time to adjust to changing light levels.
- Use an e-reader so you can adjust the font size, lighting level, andcontrast.
Prepare meals and snacks independently.
- Keep items in the refrigerator and cabinets in an order that seems natural for you ( i.e., organized by type of food or item), and try to store them only one row deep.
- Scan or copy recipes into a high-contrast, large-print format, store alphabetically
- Use a wall-mounted pegboard to hang frequently used kitchen tools.
- Use items with good contrast, such as a white mug for coffee or black measuring cups for flour and sugar; use under-counter lighting to highlight meal prep areas;
- Use the microwave if you feel unsafe using the stove.
Manage your finances.
- Organize bills and other important papers in different colored trays or folders with large labels.
- Pay bills and track accounts online so you can enlarge the font.
- Use adaptive equipment – large-print checks, signature guides, magnifiers, etc.