Those with low vision have a variety of challenges to overcome as they learn to live with their condition. Although diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent further loss of vision, there are steps you can take on your own to prevent injury, regain independence, and make life more comfortable. In this blog Dr. Sarah Wolff, our residency trained low vision optometrist serving the greater Los Angeles low vision population shares some strategies.
One of the tips that are usually given to people who are just beginning to lose their vision, or even their family members who have a loved one who is losing their vision, is to use tools and tips to improve contrast. When a person starts to lose their vision from diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, retinitis pigmentosa, and other vision conditions, contrast sensitivity is often impacted. It is much easier to see dark food on white plate than it is to see dark food on a dark plate. A white placemat makes it much easier to blue on cups, since it has a high contrast. It is also helpful when writing, if you use a darker type of pen on white paper, you can see the print a lot better than if you're using just a regular ballpoint pen. Similarly, a larger font will enable you to write and read a letter more easily and will not make you struggle as you would with a smaller font. Even though it may seem simple, it greatly reduces the difficulty of seeing it.
If you're using a device, you can enhance the picture by adding colors since a white background is often very bright for someone with some vision loss. It can even be reversed to create a white lettering on a black background. Some people prefer yellow lettering on a black background. There are a lot of options to choose from there that you can play around with too, especially if you are new to vision loss. Keep in mind that every person's vision loss impacts their color contrast sensitivity differently, play around with the settings to see what makes it easier for you to see.
For someone with low vision, a magnifying lens is perhaps the most important tool, since it helps them read and do detail work. There are two primary types of magnification that can help a person with vision loss. The most well known kind of magnification is handheld magnification. The other is glasses that include more magnification. One of the major benefits of glasses with higher magnification is that it leaves the patients hands free. Furthermore they can be worn at all times or simply kept hanging from your neck like a pair of reading glasses. Many magnifiers have lights or glare-blocking filters. They come in different sizes and strengths. One of the roles of a low vision optometrist is to help the patient navigate the options and understand what type of magnification will help them achieve the best result visually and be best suited for their goals.
It is imperative that people with low vision have plenty of light in their homes and any area where they spend time doing tasks that require great vision such as their dining room table, where they read, their desk, and at work. Brighter lighting can help someone with vision loss move freely and enjoy activities such as reading, sewing, playing cards, and much more. Whenever possible, open shades to let in natural light. For general lighting, look for overhead fixtures with strong bulbs and easy-to-access switches. During the evening hours, pay attention to dimly lit corners and stairs; motion-sensor nightlights will come in handy.
Many patients love adjustable full spectrum stand lights that they can position near their reading area or anywhere where they need extra visual clarity. A low vision optometrist will help guide the patient on the best kind of lighting to meet their lifestyle and visual ability.
Dr. Wolff has extensive experience and a passion for helping people with vision loss improve their vision, regain their independence, and enjoy the tasks that they loved before vision loss. Dr. Wolff works with every patient and their families to help them understand their vision loss better and navigate the myriad of options available to them to improve their vision. Schedule a low vision exam with Dr. Wolff today, call as at (562) 925 6591 today.