7 Visual Aids for People With Macular Degeneration
- Make Life Easier With Low-Vision AidsMacular degeneration is a common cause of vision loss. It stems from the loss of nerve cells needed for clear, central vision. It does not cause you to go blind, but it may cause low vision. Doing everyday tasks like reading can become difficult. Macular degeneration cannot be fixed with surgery, eyeglasses, or contact lenses. But, low-vision aids—from a simple magnifying glass to a smartphone app—can help make life easier.
- 1. Magnifying SpectaclesThese are much stronger than your average glasses. You could use them for things like reading or threading a needle. They are similar to reading glasses. Macular degeneration can affect each eye differently. So, you may need magnification only on one side. The disadvantage is these spectacles can be hard to get used to. You may also need to take them off as you walk around a room because they can throw off your depth perception.
- 2. Handheld MagnifiersA handheld magnifying glass is an option for reading. You can move the glass closer or farther away to focus. They come in different strengths. Some styles have a built-in light. This can be helpful because people with macular degeneration often have trouble seeing in dim light. These magnifiers are not costly, and you don’t need to wear them. Disadvantages are they require a steady hand and you can see only the limited area right in front of you.
- 3. Stand MagnifierA stand magnifier is used just for reading. This device is put directly on top of a printed page. You just move it over the page when you want to read. You don’t need to focus it. Some stand magnifiers also come with a built-in light. They are inexpensive and easy to shop for online. On the downside, they work best with a flat page, like a newspaper. They can be clumsy when you're trying to read a book.
- 4. Video MagnifiersClosed-circuit television is often used as a visual aid for people with low vision. A camera and a television screen can be adapted to magnify pictures, print, or small objects. These devices can also aid vision by adding contrast and changing color. In recent years, they've become smaller and easier to use. You can sit close to the screen, place the object you want to see in front of the camera and adjust the screen to fit your needs.
- 5. High-Tech Vision AidsThe newest types of low-vision aids are e-readers, smartphones and tablets. You can adjust the font (the print) size. And, you may be able to change the contrast on web pages or books you're reading. Some devices can read passages out loud for you. There are also apps you can get for some smartphones and tablets. They can magnify objects. Some can read the denomination of paper money. Others can do a vision check you can send off to your eye doctor.
- 6. Low-Tech Visual AidsVisual aids don't need to be high-tech. They can be as simple as large-print books and magazines. You can buy playing cards with larger print. You can have your bank print checks with larger print. You can use a bold-tip marker for notes and shopping lists. Talking clocks, telephones, and watches are useful electronic gadgets. Good lighting with glare control is also helpful.
- 7. A Low-Vision TeamVisual rehabilitation is the treatment for low vision, and it takes a team effort. Your team may include your eye doctor, a low-vision specialist, and a vision rehabilitation teacher, among other therapists. It’s important to communicate your needs and what you want to be able to do with the help of low-vision aids. For instance, let them know if you have trouble cooking because you can’t see the markings on the measuring cup. These experts will help you choose the best vision aids that are right for you, and teach you how to use them correctly.