More than 5 million people in the US alone are considered visually impaired. In Canada, approximately half a million Canadians are living with some type of vision loss that significantly affects their lives. Low vision is considered any visual impairment that is severe enough that it can’t be corrected fully with surgery, medication, eyeglasses or contact lenses. Those who live with this impairment have to find ways to cope with their inability to see well.
What are some methods of managing low vision?
- Think big. There are many devices available now that are made especially for those with low or failing vision. Clocks and telephones with large, glow in the dark numbers make it easier for you to use them. There are also large print or even audio books for those who love to read. Buy clothes with large buttons or look for items that don’t need either buttons or zippers.
- Organize. If you decide on an area for each specific item it will make it much easier for you to find things when you need them. Just remember to put them back where they belong! Less clutter and everything kept in its own place will make it easier for you to manage tasks around your home.
- Contrast. Using colors that contrast with their background will make them easier for you to see. Dark baseboards on a white wall, dark tablecloths with white dishes, bright colored utensils and other items around your home: all of these will stand out against a contrast color as a background.
- Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when shopping. Many stores have staff who have been trained to help those with low vision and other impairments. Look for help at your local senior centres. Support groups in the community can introduce you to others with similar vision problems and can also help you get around the community.
February is Low Vision Awareness Month. This is a good reminder to see your optometrist and have your vision checked. Many of the visually impaired cope very well with day to day tasks. If you need help because of low vision, speak with your healthcare provider about assistance and advice.