Low vision centre

Tips for Low Vision

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If you have a disease or condition that results in low vision, your eye-care practitioner may have prescribed strong glasses to help with reading and other daily tasks. To live more independently and productively, make a few practical changes to your immediate environment and invest in adaptive devices that can help you make the best use of your remaining vision. 

  1. Improve Lighting

During the day, allow as much natural sunlight as possible into your home. Rearrange your furniture so you can sit near a window to read, work on hobbies and complete other tasks. Ensure that there is good lighting in all areas of your home, especially the halls, closets, stairways and basement. Use the brightest light bulbs recommended for all the fixtures. Avoid fluorescent lighting, which can cause glare. Instead, purchase full-spectrum bulbs or halogen task lighting, which allows for better comfort and visibility. In the kitchen, ensure that all items and surfaces are well-lit. Use illuminated and magnifying mirrors in the bathroom.

2.    Improve Reading

Find a comfortable, well-lit reading area. Wear your strong reading glasses or invest in a hand-held magnifier with a small reading lamp for better illumination. To free your hands, use a magnifier that can be mounted on a height-adjustable stand or attached to a chain and placed around your neck. Consider a reading telescope as another option. These telescopes can be hand-held or mounted on special eyeglass frames with nose pads and padded bridges. Consult your eye-care practitioner before purchasing any of these devices. He can advise you on the best alternative, based on your daily activities and the lens power you require.

3.     Increase Independence

Organise your life so you can easily handle many of your daily tasks. Whenever possible, invest in large-print items such as books, clocks, telephones and watches. Buy wide-lined paper and use large felt-tip pens to write notes. Convert all computer documents to a larger font before reading them. Copy and enlarge your address book and menus from your favorite restaurants. If you have trouble identifying bills, invest in a wallet that has separate pockets for different denominations. Use color-coded pill boxes.

4.     Increase Safety

Make your home accident-proof. Mark key positions on your stove, washer, dryer and other appliances with bright, dimensional fabric paint. This helps you feel the correct positions and use the appliances correctly. Use contrast, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. Ensure that all electrical outlets are visible by painting or replacing the covers in a color that contrasts with the wall. Use light-colored dishes on dark tablecloths, or vice versa. To avoid tripping, remove all throw rugs. In the bathroom, pick up the bath mat after each use and fold it over the tub.

From the eHow Health website - writen by Joanne Guidoccio
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Depression and Vision Loss

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Loss of visual function may be caused by eye conditions that affect the ability to read, see faces, or travel independently. This loss can be devastating because of its consequences. Some individuals may be in jeopardy of losing a job, while others may be forced to give up driving, which symbolizes independence and freedom of movement. Still others may be faced with the prospect of being unable to cope independently, and may have to move into a nursing home. It is not unusual for providers of low vision care to witness depression among their patients. According to the Mayo Clinic, many factors have been linked with depression, including: life changes, illness, medications, biochemical factors, history of mental or emotional disorders, and substance abuse. A heart attack, Parkinson's disease, stroke, or vision loss may lead to life changes that can cause depression. Individuals may exhibit the same emotional reactions to the loss of vision as those who lose a loved one or a limb. These reactions include: shock, depression, anxiety, disbelief, grief, denial or anger.

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Low Vision Centre

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You are clearly not blind, but you can’t see clearly… Find out how we can help you to make the most of your remaining vision.

Low Vision Services

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What is low vision?
You're clearly not blind, but you can't see clearly.

While some vision problems can be treated or corrected with spectacles, medication or surgery to restore normal vision, others persist due to permanent loss of function of certain structures of the eye. When all corrective measures have been exhausted, the remaining vision is referred to as ‘Low Vision ’. Even though you no longer have perfect or normal vision, you still have some remaining vision (Low Vision) that allows you to maintain independence.

What are the symptoms?
Not everybody experiences low vision in the same way. Depending on the cause of vision loss and where the problem is in the eye, the vision may be described as:
  • Hazy or cloudy
  • Blank, dark spots or wavy lines in the centre of the vision
  • Reduced side vision, resulting in difficulty to move around
  • Reduced colour and contrast perception, resulting in poor definition of objects
  • Shadows in the visual field or patchy vision
  • Extreme sensitivity to bright light
  • An inability to function in dimmed lighting
What causes low vision?
  • Birth defects
  • Hereditary factors
  • Injury to the eye
  • Medical conditions.
Can anything be done to help?
Yes. Once the best possible medical, surgical and optometric care has been given, people with low vision can be assisted to make the most of their remaining vision by focussing on, among others:
  • Lighting, colour and contrast
  • The size of objects
  • The distance from objects
  • Finding the right low vision device for a specific task
  • Learning new visual skills e.g. to look sideways at an object to see it better, rather than looking straight ahead
  • Learning to concentrate on the other senses e.g. hearing and touch to compensate for the loss of vision
What are low vision devices?
Low Vision devices make images appear larger, clearer and easier to see. These may include:
  • Special reading glasses
  • Magnifiers (pocket size, stand mounted, handheld, clip-on and illuminated)
  • Telescopes to magnify objects in the distance
  • UV shields to reduce glare and increase contrast
  • Non-optical devices e.g. talking watches, signature guides and needle threaders
  • Electronic reading devices
What can I expect from a 'Low Vision Service'?
A Low Vision service provides access to a multi-disciplinary team of professionals and a range of assistive devices that will smooth the process of adjusting to the challenge of living with low vision. Low Vision Services strive to assist individuals to:
  • Understand the value and limitations of their remaining vision
  • Learn visual skills to compensate for loss of function
  • Discover the importance of lighting, colour and contrast to make objects more visible
  • Select the right low vision devices to meet their specific needs
  • Obtain practical hints and tips
  • Get emotional support for the individual and their families.

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How do I know I have low vision?

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Can you?

  • Read normal print?
  • Do fine, detailed work (e.g. sewing)?
  • Recognise people or see expressions on their faces?
  • Watch television?
  • See markings on appliances (e.g. microwave)?
  • Cross streets and move around safely in unfamiliar places?
  • Cope with bright or dimmed lighting?

If you answered no on any of these questions, or if you have been told that nothing can be done to restore or improve your vision - you might have low vision. Read the file below to learn more about low vision.

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