Posted: 2/10/2022 9:00 AM by Interim HealthCare

Low vision affects millions of Americans, including many older adults. It can make it harder for you to do things like read, shop, or cook, and unfortunately, standard treatments for low vision like eyeglasses, contact lenses, medicines, and surgery can’t always fix the problem completely.


But there’s good news! There are many tools to help people struggling with low vision learn how to stay independent and make the most of their sight. 


February is Low Vision Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to learn how those with low vision can still live full and active lives. 


1. Receive an appropriate diagnosis.
It’s important to know what the causes of low vision are. Age-related macular degeneration, diabetes, and glaucoma are the most common causes. If you are experiencing low vision but haven’t been formally diagnosed with one of these diseases, visit your doctor or ophthalmologist to make sure you’re receiving the correct treatment.


2. If you currently smoke, quit as soon as possible.
We usually think about how smoking affects the heart and lungs, but it can also impact your eye health, as well. Smoking can cause multiple eye problems, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and dry eye syndrome. 


For free help and support to quit smoking, you can call the National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848) or visit their website


3. Take recommended vitamins and supplements.
For AMD in particular, if you currently have early to intermediate disease taking, studies show certain vitamins can decrease the risk of your disease progressing by 25% over 5-10 years. 


Check with your doctor if you have trouble finding these supplements and also be sure to get your physician’s approval to take them.


Vitamins and supplements that may help with low vision include:

  • Vitamin C, 500 mg daily
  • Vitamin E, 400 IU daily
  • Beta-carotene, 15 mg daily
  • Zinc oxide, 80 mg daily
  • Cupric oxide, 2 mg daily

4. Adjust the lighting in your home or work environment.
Sometimes, improving your low vision can be as easy as adjusting the lighting in your environment. 

Although you may not be able to see as clearly as you used to, these tools and techniques can make it a little more comfortable:

  • Adjust lighting and glare from devices and light fixtures
  • Change bulb colors
  • Find the right task lighting (bedside lamps, table lamps, etc.)

5. Know what low vision tools are available to you.

Changing the lighting in your environment, in addition to utilizing various tools, can help improve your low vision in your everyday life. 


Consider using the following tools that can help improve your vision:

  • Digital handheld magnifiers
  • Portable video magnifiers
  • Strong glasses for specific tasks  
  • Optical magnifiers  
  • Telescopes 
  • Electronic magnifying systems  
  • Computer/cell phone accessibility 

6. Find a low vision rehabilitation specialist.
It can be overwhelming knowing where to start when looking for solutions or assistance for your low vision issues. If you feel overwhelmed by all the options or could use more support to improve your quality of life, you may want to find a local low vision specialist like an ophthalmologist or optometrist. These experts can help you develop a vision rehabilitation plan that uses strategies and tools that will work best for you and your lifestyle.


Vision rehabilitation therapy can include the following:

  • Training to use magnifying and adaptive devices
  • Teaching new daily living skills to remain safe and live independently
  • Developing strategies to navigate around the home and in public
  • Providing resources and support

Low vision rehabilitation is an excellent tool that can help you perform those daily tasks that used to seem impossible – reading the newspaper, browsing the internet, or even cooking. 


Even if your current ophthalmologist or optometrist is not a low vision specialist, they should be able to help you find one in your area.