How to Cope with Low Vision
Any signs of vision loss should prompt a doctors visit; if you have a problem that can’t be corrected with eyewear or surgery, low vision devices can usually help.
Low Vision is usually defined as vision that can not be corrected completely using either contact lenses, eyeglasses, or surgery, and is blurry or limited in its field of view. Low vision is sometimes caused by injury to the eye or brain, and it can be inherited. However, the most common cause of low vision is eye disease such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or macular degeneration.
People with low vision have some sight. However, completing normal activities, including driving and reading, can be a challenge, or even impossible.
Low vision is a condition that is most common in the elderly, although it is possible for children and younger adults to have low vision. After a life of seeing normally, losing your vision can be hard, or even traumatic, and can potentially lead to frustration, or even depression.
If you have low vision, you may feel disconnected from the rest of the world. With low vision, it’s hard to read, see images on television or a computer screen, and impossible to drive. You may not be able to be independent and run your own errands, shop for food, or visit friends and family. Sometimes people with a vision impairment suffer with this burden alone, while others must rely completely on friends and relatives on a daily basis. There are support services available to assist you in dealing with this.
There are many devices and ways to manage low vision, which can help people suffering with low vision to continue leading productive and independent lives. Some of the devices that can help make the most out of remaining vision are special glasses, magnifiers, electronic magnifiers or reading machines, closed-circuit TVs (CCTVs) and telescopes. There are also a variety of non-optical devices and training that may help a person adapt.
Signs that it is time to see an eye doctor include loss of peripheral vision, blurry vision, sensitivity to light, night blindness, needing more light to see, spots or floaters, and reading difficulty. Make sure to see your eye doctor before any eye condition becomes so serious that vision loss occurs.
Low Vision Aids for Computer Users
Innovative low vision devices for computers can help visually-impaired people stay connected with friends and the online world.
Special software is easy to install to increase the print size and images on computer screens. They can also convert printed information to audio messages that are “read” by a synthetic computer voice.
Quick tips for adjusting text size:
In browsers such as Microsoft IE (Internet Explorer), Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Apple Safari, you can enlarge text and images on your screen by holding down the Control (“Ctrl”) key on your keyboard and tapping the “+” key. Control (ctrl) key and mouse scroll also adjust the screen sizes. (Command-shift-+ for Macs.)
For reducing text and images again, tap the “-” key while holding down the Control key.
You also can hold down the Ctrl “-” key, and use the wheel on your mouse to increase or decrease the text size on your screen.
Most computer Operating Systems also have an “enlarge text” feature on-screen for the “Text Size”. It might be a “Make Text Larger” command within “View” in the drop-down menu at the top of the screen. Typically, once “large-print” has been selected the display should also show larger icons, mouse pointers and other navigation items as well. It may also prove to be worthwhile to purchase a large LCD display for your desktop computer – a screen measuring at least 20 inches diagonally.
Mice vs. Keyboards
Vision challenged individuals who are good typists may prefer keyboard commands instead of a mouse-movement and clicks. It may be easier to type a keyboard command than to move the mouse-cursor to a precise place on-screen.
If a mouse is your preferred cursor, you can choose an ergonomically-designed mouse for comfort and ease. Mouse speed can be set to fast or slow to avoid the common frustration of response rate being too fast or too slow. For example, in Windows if the mouse “flies” across the screen, you can adjust this by clicking on the Start menu > Control Panel > Mouse. There you can set mouse behavior settings, including the pointer speed.