Illness & Conditions - Managing Health Conditions
Vision Problems: Living With Poor Eyesight
You don't see as well as you used to. Eye problems such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, cataracts, or diabetic retinopathy may be making it hard to work and manage many of your daily activities. But don't give up. There are lots of things you can do to adapt to low vision and make your life easier and safer.
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 current lifestyle. Making changes may seem difficult and time-consuming, but be patient. You can keep your independence and continue the activities you enjoy.
Find your vision strengths
Contact your local or state organization for the visually impaired for a low-vision evaluation. It can help you 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.
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.
There are also many vision aids that are specially made for people who have poor eyesight. These aids include 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
Poor eyesight should not prevent you from having a full and active life. The more vision adaptations, enhancing skills, and adaptive technologies you learn and use, the more independent and active you can be.
Although you may not be able to improve your vision, there are many tools that can help you to make the best use of your remaining vision. And they can make living with reduced vision much easier and safer.
Your eye doctor will be able to suggest specific changes you can make. These may include:
Test Your Knowledge
If I enhance my remaining vision, I will be less dependent on other people.
Some simple changes can help you use your remaining vision to its full potential and allow you to live as independently as possible. Here are some keys to success.
Making changes at home
Make simple changes
These are a few ideas on how to make living with low vision easier and safer. For more ideas, see a low-vision rehabilitation specialist.
Contrast helps your eyes to distinguish objects and their surroundings based on differences in brightness or color, 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 color (low contrast).
Label and mark
Avoid potential hazards
Using visual aids and other adaptive technologies
Learning to use low-vision aids and adaptive technologies may help you make the best use of your remaining vision.
Low-vision aids are special lenses or electronic systems that make images appear larger, such as:
If your low vision is caused by diabetes, some aids that may help you include:
Adaptive technology is used in devices or products that may not help you see better but can make life easier and safer. Many are designed to help you perform common tasks that may be harder when you have impaired vision. Examples include:
Some of these measures are easy to build into your life. Others require big changes in the way that you do things at home, at work, or elsewhere. Some measures, such as computer programs or electronic systems, can be costly or may take time to learn to use properly. You will need to decide which ones will work best for you. If you are legally blind, you may be able to get help through your state's Commission for the Blind.
Having low vision can lead to losing your ability to drive. It's hard to give up the convenience of going where you want whenever you want. But you don't have to be homebound. You have options for getting around safely.
There are many resources to help you meet the challenges of living with reduced vision and keep your quality of life.
Seek counseling, rehabilitation, and training
Look for low-vision specialists and groups and agencies that offer counseling, training, and other special services related to vision loss. Low-vision rehabilitation specialists can give you detailed practical information and training on managing your household and other activities of daily life that can be more challenging when you have low vision. These specialists can also help you find ways to cope with low vision in the workplace. Specialists may include:
Build your personal support network
There are many resources available to help you overcome the challenges of living with low vision, to make the best use of the vision you do have, and to keep your quality of life. Your family and friends, as well as your health care and social services professionals, can help you.
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.
Adaptive technology can improve my vision.
Which of the following can help you cope with reduced vision and keep your quality of life?
Now that you have read this information, you are ready to find ways to adapt to your low vision 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 find out which aids will enhance your remaining vision.
If you would like more information about low-vision enhancements, the following resources are available:
More information about vision problems can be found in these topics:
Last Revised: November 12, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
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