Low Vision, What Does It Mean? (cont.)
What resources and strategies can help people perform daily tasks
Resources and strategies depend on the severity of a person's vision
impairment. At home, people need devices that can help them read, write, and
manage the tasks of daily living. These adaptive devices include:
lighting, prescription reading glasses, large-print publications, magnifying
devices, closed-circuit televisions, cassette recordings, electronic reading
machines, and computers with large print and speech output systems.
strategies include writing with bold black felt tip markers and writing on
tablets with bold lines to make it easier to write in a straight line.
- Contrasting colors are helpful: people can place colored tape on the edges of
steps to help them see the steps and prevent a fall. Dark-colored light switches
and electrical outlets can provide contrast on light-colored walls.
lights that automatically turn on when someone enters a room are helpful.
Telephones, clocks, and watches with large numbers can help people use those
instruments more easily, and large-print labels placed on the stove and
microwave oven can help, too.
Among the visual devices that can help people with low vision are reading
glasses with high-powered lenses and reading prisms; telescopes and telescopic
spectacles for tasks requiring vision at near, middle, and far distances; and
reversed telescopes for visual field defects. These devices must be prescribed
by eye care professionals, and patients must be trained to use them properly.
What agencies and organizations provide people who have low vision with help
Many agencies and organizations in the community provide assistance and
information to people who have low vision, and to their families and caregivers.
State agencies for the blind and visually impaired can make referrals to a
variety of organizations that provide assistance. Such services include vision
rehabilitation, recreation, counseling, and job training or placement.
Why aren't these resources used more often?
Many people don't know that help exists. They think of low vision as a
natural part of aging, not as a problem that can be treated. Others feel that
these services and devices are for people who are blind, not for people with low
vision. Also, the cost of many devices keeps people from obtaining them.
Finally, people may know that help exists, but they don't know what their
options are and aren't sure how to ask for help or whom to consult.
What should a person do if he or she knows someone with low vision?
Urge that person to make an appointment with an eye care professional for an
eye examination. Then help the person find out about low vision and vision
rehabilitation services and encourage him or her to take advantage of all
Is a low vision examination covered by health insurance, Medicaid, or
Policies vary by state, but generally Medicare will cover low vision
examinations performed by eye care professionals. Private health insurance
usually does not cover low vision examinations, but one should check with their
carrier to be sure.
How can the public get a free booklet on low vision?
Last Editorial Review: 7/7/2004
Call 1-877-569-8474 to order a booklet on low vision.
This information has been provided with the kind permission of the
National Institutes of Health National Eye Institute (www.nei.nih.gov).