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Help for low vision

Specialized devices, therapies and resources can help you adapt to very limited vision.

The simple task of reading a book may be a luxury for some people.

That's because millions of Americans have low vision, according to the National Eye Institute. Low vision can cause:

  • Trouble doing things that require you to see well up close, such as reading, cooking or fixing things around the house.
  • Difficulty reading street signs or names of stores.
  • Problems recognizing facial features.
  • Trouble distinguishing similar colors, such as black and blue.

Most people develop low vision because of eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy. People age 65 and older are at increased risk.

Living with low vision

Living with low vision may not be easy. But if you've been diagnosed with the condition, you can take steps to stay independent and continue your normal daily routine.

Educate yourself. One of the first steps is to talk to your doctor. Write down questions and talk openly about your concerns. Learn all you can about the condition. The more you understand, the less scary it may seem. Consider asking a family member or friend to go with you. It helps to have someone else understand your condition.

Consider occupational therapy. Be sure to ask your doctor about occupational therapy, which can help you learn how to continue daily tasks such as showering, dressing, cooking, grocery shopping, managing finances and transportation.

You'll also learn to make the most of the vision you have left and to compensate by using your other senses, such as touch, hearing and smell.

Learn about assistive devices. Consider asking your doctor for a referral to a low-vision specialist. Vision rehabilitation specialists evaluate your needs and can prescribe assistive devices to help you read, write and manage other daily tasks. These devices include adjustable lighting, prescription reading glasses, magnifying devices, telescopic aids, closed-circuit televisions, large-print publications and books on tape.

Reach out. Tell your family and friends about your condition. Ask for their help with tasks such as adapting your home to keep it safe and functional, or finding community resources for low vision, such as audio reader services or centers for the blind.

For more information

Many agencies and organizations across the country provide information about support and rehabilitation for low vision. Good places to start include:

Reviewed 3/13/2020

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