Living with Low Vision?
According to the National Eye Institute1, low vision is a vision problem that makes it hard to do everyday activities. It can't be fixed with glasses, contact lenses, or other standard treatments like medicine or surgery. You may have low vision if you can't see well enough to do things like read, drive, recognize people’s faces, tell colors apart, or see your television or computer screen clearly.
The most common causes of low vision include age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and a history of diabetes—particularly when glucose levels remain high over long periods of time2.
Treatment options will depend on the specific eye condition that caused low vision. An eye doctor or a low vision specialist can determine if there are any treatments that may improve vision or help protect remaining vision.
While low vision is usually permanent, there are ways to help improve everyday activities like using brighter lights at home or work and wearing anti-glare eyewear. Magnification devices can also help and are offered with a variety of features:
- A stand magnifier is a simple device for reading. The magnifier can rest flat on a page and increase the print size for easier viewing. This is an excellent device to use when reading for long periods of time.
- A handheld magnifier is for brief spot-reading. It enlarges the print to make it easier for you to see. It’s simple to carry but can be tiring if used for extended reading.
- Magnifying reading glasses provide a wider field of vision than stand or handheld magnifiers. Your hands are free to do the things you love, like knit, play the piano, or enjoy a game of cards.
- Clip-ons are like magnifying reading glasses, but they clip on to existing glasses. This enlarges the print when reading.
- Tele-microscopic glasses are made specifically for tasks that are near, such as reading, writing, shop work, coin and stamp collecting, etc. They allow for a more comfortable reading distance than some of the other options and they provide a very clear image.
There are also a variety of diabetes-specific devices that can aid people with low vision. These include:
- Audio glucometers that read glucose numbers out loud
- Lancets that have a drum rather than having to individually place the lancet in the device
- Continuous glucose monitors that can give audio alerts for preset high and low glucose readings to alert the individual to dangerous levels
- Insulin pens that make an audible clicking noise as the pen is rotated to deliver units of insulin
Magnifiers are available that can be placed over a syringe to enlarge the lines that indicate the amount of insulin to deliver. Some insulin pumps are visually easier to see as well due to the font size and the lighting.
Visiting an eye doctor or a low vision care specialist will help you to find the correct combination of products to enhance your vision and improve your ability to do the tasks that are important to you.
- Visit visionaware.org for information for adults who are losing vision. Check out the directory of resources and daily living techniques
- The American Foundation for the Blind has both audio and visual resources to help you or your loved one negotiate the challenges faced by vision loss.
- Ask the Experts podcast on February 23, 2021 about low vision