Maintaining Quality of Life With Low Vision
Low vision can cause difficulty in seeing detailed letters and numbers when reading, recognizing the slope of a curb, steps, or facial features, and distinguishing between similar colors, such as black and blue. Adults who have these problems may have trouble maintaining their independence and completing typical day-to-day activities.
It is possible for people with vision impairments to continue to live independent and meaningful lives with the help of an occupational therapist. Practitioners can help people with low vision to continue living in their own homes and complete daily tasks, such as showering, dressing, cooking, grocery shopping, managing finances, and traveling around the neighborhood.
What can an occupational therapist do?
- Evaluate a person’s environment at work and at home to determine how it can be altered to make the most out of a person’s remaining vision.
- Help a person identify items used every day that need to “stand out” (provide a contrast) by marking them with bright colors so they can be recognized easier.
- Increase lighting (watts) so objects can be seen better. In addition to providing extra light to items, occupational therapists also can identify areas that could be dangerous if not well lit, such as stairwells, kitchens, and spaces with area rugs.
- Educate a person on how to compensate for vision loss by using other senses, such as touch, hearing, and smell.
- Recommend and train a person to use assistive devices that can aid in completing daily activities, such as magnifiers, audio equipment, and voice-activated computers.
- Evaluate a person’s ability to drive and determine whether a person with low vision can adjust his or her driving so that he or she can continue to get around safely or should develop alternative ways to get around.
What can friends and family of a person with low vision do?
- Keep current on the person’s vision ability.
- Help make his or her environment as safe and functional as possible.
- Help them access community resources such as audio books, audio reader services, and centers for the blind.
- Consult your physician about obtaining a referral to occupational therapy.