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Living with vision loss

Diabetes - vision loss; Retinopathy - vision loss; Low vision; Blindness - vision loss

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Low vision aids

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Low Vision and Blindness

Low vision is a visual disability. Wearing regular glasses or contacts does not help. People with low vision have already tried the available medical or surgical treatments. And no other treatments will help. If you have been told that you will go totally blind or to the point where you can't see well enough to read, it may be helpful to learn Braille while you are still able to see.

People with vision worse than 20/200, with glasses or contact lenses, are considered legally blind in most states in the United States. But many people in this group still have some useful vision.

When you have low vision, you may have trouble driving, reading, or doing small tasks like sewing and crafts. But you can make changes in your home and in your routines that help you stay safe and independent. Some of these methods and techniques require at least some vision so will not be helpful for total blindness. Many services are available for you to get the training and support to function independently. One of these are the Braille Institute of America.

Using low Vision Aids

The type of low vision aids and strategies for daily living you use will depend on your type of vision loss. Different aids and strategies are better suited for different problems.

The main types of visual loss are:

A normally-sighted family member or friend may need to help you set up some types of visual aids. Some options include:

Maximize Lighting

You should:

Organize Your Home

You will want to develop routines that make life easier with low vision. If your home is already well organized, you may need to make only small changes.

Have a place for everything.

Become familiar with common things.

Label your things.

Make Your Home Safe From Trips and Falls

You should:

Organize Your Clothes

You should:

Organize Your Kitchen for Cooking and Eating

You should:

Handle Medicines Safely

You should:

Get Around Safely

Learn to get around by yourself.

Learn how to walk with someone else's help.

References

American Foundation for the Blind website. Blindness and low vision - resources for living with vision loss. www.afb.org/blindness-and-low-vision. Accessed March 11, 2020.

Andrews J. Optimizing the built environment for frail older adults. In: Fillit HM, Rockwood K, Young J, eds. Brocklehurst's Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier, 2017:chap 132.

Braille institute website. Guide techniques. www.brailleinstitute.org/resources/guide-techniques. Accessed March 11, 2020.

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Review Date: 2/25/2020  

Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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