Several resources are available to help make living with low vision or blindness easier. These include low vision aids, technological products, and support groups and services.
Vision loss, whether full or partial, can be challenging to live with. It may be a small comfort, but if you or a loved one is living with vision loss, you’re far from alone.
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In this article, we provide information about organizations and support groups for people with vision loss. We also discuss treatments, lifestyle tips, and technological support for people with visual impairment or blindness.
Treatments for vision loss vary based on the underlying cause. Treatment options for some of the most common drivers of vision loss include the following:
• laser drainage procedures
|age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
|• anti-VEGF injections
• photodynamic therapy
• vision rehab
• laser treatment
|• anti-VEGF injections
• laser treatment
Getting an early diagnosis can also give you time to work with a
Easy-to-use aids can help maximize your visual capacity. These include:
- side-vision awareness glasses
- large-print reading materials
Larger-than-average products, like wall clocks, sewing needles, and scales, are also available that make day-to-day tasks easier. There are even battery-operated money counters that distinguish between paper currency values.
Aids don’t have to be “high tech” to be supportive.
Many people with low to no vision use tactile markers, like rubber bands, to help them differentiate between pill bottles or products, like shampoo and conditioner.
Lined paper with very bold lines and writing instruments that produce dark, thick markings can make writing with low vision easier.
If you love cooking, gadgets like measuring cups and spoons with large print or dark lines can make your time in the kitchen easier.
Don’t give up on activities you love without researching the aids and services available that help you continue to do them.
Whether your vision loss is due to an inherited disorder, a degenerative condition, or trauma, your OT can teach you visual exercises to:
- improve your ability to focus near and far
- improve eye muscle motility
- adapt to lost portions of your visual field
These exercises may reduce eyestrain and help improve your sight.
OTs can also help optimize your home environment. These strategies may include simple changes, like altering the position of your lighting sources. Your OT may also recommend altering your home’s layout to reduce the risk of falls.
Your OT may also offer mobility training to help you safely enjoy life outside the home.
Tips for living with vision loss
Consider the following to help make living with vision loss simpler and safer:
- Declutter and organize your home and office to alleviate the risk of falls.
- Keep everyday items, like the television remote, in the same place so you can always find them.
- Experiment with lighting to determine the best placement and brightness for you.
- Use the contrast between light and dark to help you identify boundaries. This can be as simple as placing light colored rugs on dark floors near steps or entryways.
Many local and regional organizations offer peer-to-peer support groups, low vision training, and other vision loss resources. Check your library or the office of your state or local representatives to find support near you.
Several national organizations also provide help and services to people with visual impairments. They include:
If you’re blind or have low vision, you may be eligible for financial support from the Social Security Administration, even if you have a job and can work.
Two programs supply benefits to people with vision loss:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available for people who have earned enough credits by paying Social Security taxes. Your work history, or the work history of your spouse or parents, may go toward your eligibility. SSDI is discontinued once you start receiving Social Security retirement benefits.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program based on your income and resources.
Assistive technology devices of all kinds can make everyday tasks easier. These include GPS navigation devices and watches that provide verbal cues.
Many technology-based products are available that “talk” so you don’t have to read them. These include blood pressure monitors, thermometers, weight scales, and glucose meters.
Screen readers for computers and tablets speak aloud the text on your screen so you don’t have to read it. Blind people or those with near-blindness can also benefit from using Braille keyboards.
Blind children or those with low vision don’t have to miss out on summer fun. Very Special Camps has a comprehensive list of over 100 vision impairment camps for kids.
The Vision of Children Foundation also offers events and resources for families of children with visual impairments.
Being a caregiver or friend to someone with vision loss can be both challenging and rewarding.
Someone with vision loss may experience a range of emotions. Allow them to express their feelings. Anger, frustration, and depression are natural reactions. They can fade over time with proper help.
One of the most important things you can do is let them know you’re on their side and they’re not alone. Reach out with practical help when appropriate, such as driving or accompanying them to appointments and events. But resist the urge to do things for them that they can do themselves, like personal grooming or preparing food.
Checking out resources, like support groups and training services, can help pave the way for your loved one’s adjustment and is another way to actively help.
Many people experience vision loss for various reasons. Whether your vision loss is due to a condition, injury, or aging, resources are available to help you manage symptoms and maintain your quality of life.
You can start by learning more about your specific condition and what treatments are available. You can also research low vision aids, vision rehabilitation programs, and support groups and organizations to help you adapt and adjust.
If your vision loss is significant enough to qualify as a disability, government resources may also be available to provide financial assistance.