Life can be quite ‘different’ with low vision. With the right attitude and support, however, independence and a good quality of life can be maintained.
When you first find that you have low vision it is important to give yourself a chance to come to terms with your new situation and not be too hard on yourself. Talking to the people you live with about how you are finding things and how difficult it might be can help them to understand. Two way communication, where you really explain to your family what you can see/can’t see/can do/can’t do will help them to know how to help you.
Key things to remember:
- Give yourself time to adjust to your new situation
- Talk to others, particularly your family, to let them understand. They will want to help but may not know how. Talking openly will mean they can help you to make the most of the sight you have.
Also, people with low vision very often still have useful sight that they can use in their daily lives. A visit to an optometrist or low vision specialist can help you find ways to maximise the use of the remaining vision; as well as using low vision aids and incorporating some new habits to your lifestyle. Here are some tips.
How to make things easier to see:
1) Magnification - Making things larger
Making things larger usually makes them easier to see. Things can be made larger by moving them closer to your eye and by using magnifiers which can help you to see them.
Diseases such as macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy can result in blind spots or blocked out areas, called scotomas, within the central field of vision. When looking at something these blind spots can obstruct the object, partially or completely, making it difficult or impossible to recognise. If the object is magnified, however, the blind spots cause less obstruction, making the object easier to see.
Magnification can be achieved in different ways:
- Increasing image size; for example, by using large print books, etc.
- Decreasing viewing distance; for example, sitting closer to TV
- Using optical magnifiers
- Using specific computer software
- Using electronic / video (CCTV) magnifiers
2) Illumination – Making things brighter
You can make things easier to see by using better lighting, as it can help enhance the contrast of the objects in view. For example, added illumination when reading a newspaper can make it easier to distinguish letters on the page. Most people with low vision find that additional lighting helps greatly in being able to achieve visual tasks and you should have the illumination that feels comfortable for each task.
3) Contrast – Make things bolder
With low vision it can be harder to see things that are similar in colour to the background they are on. Contrast is about how much something appears to stand out from its background because of its colour. Objects can be made easier to see by putting them on a contrasting colour background, e.g a white cup on a dark surface.