Reading Aids for People With Wet AMD
When you have wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), blood vessels grow under your macula, the area of your eye that supports central vision. The blood vessels leak fluid that scars the macula, which can make it hard to read. You may see dark spots (gaps in your vision), see straight lines as wavy, see bright or intense colors as dull, or have a generally hazy or blurry view with less detail.
Wet AMD can come on quickly, and if you have it in one eye, you’re more likely to get it in the other. Talk with your doctor as soon as you notice changes in your vision, and know that if you do have wet AMD, a wide range of vision assistive technology is available. Reading the newspaper or getting lost in a book doesn’t have to be a thing of your past.
There are several ways you can change the lighting in your home to make it easier to read with wet AMD:
- Use brighter, higher-wattage light bulbs throughout your home—it doesn’t matter if the light is yellow or white.
- Add lamps to darker areas.
- Focus light in your reading areas.
- Adjust lighting to minimize glare (reflection off shiny surfaces).
Magnifying lenses make words on a page larger and easier to see, and these lenses come in different forms:
- Magnifying eyeglasses (spectacles) close to your eyes
- Magnifying lenses on a stand close to your reading material
- Hand-held magnifiers you can hold over what you’re reading and adjust as needed
- Telescopic devices such as small binoculars that can either be attached to eyeglasses or hand-held
Explore your options with your doctor and experiment to find what works best for you.
Technology is on your side, and new advancements are helping people with vision loss who love to read. One study has shown that people with vision loss increased their comfort with reading and the speed at which they read by using tablets like iPads.
Try to keep an open mind as to how technology can help you read—even though the experience may be different than what you’re used to. These tools may help:
- Smart phones, tablets, and eReaders allow you to make text bigger, increase contrast, and add light. (Be aware that different devices have different features.)
- Video magnifiers use a camera and screen to magnify words, increase contrast, and read text out loud.
- Audio books give your eyes a break.
- Screen readers translate what is displayed on your screen into audio or Braille.
Don’t go out and spend a fortune on tech without doing some research first. Ask your doctor about free and low-cost vision helpers that have worked well for other patients. Also know that tools for working around wet AMD aren’t the only option. Effective treatments for the condition of wet AMD itself are also available. Appropriate treatments for you should be part of the conversation with your doctor.