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Living with Low Vision: Adjusting the Home


With some adjustments, those with low vision can live independently, continue to carry out daily activities and take pleasure in hobbies. In the home, remember the following general guidelines: increase lighting for tasks; control glare; use magnification; and increase contrast. Over time, people with low vision will likely come up with individual, innovative solutions to reflect their needs, help them function better in the home and increase their enjoyment of life. Seek help through friends, family and volunteer groups to implement these adaptations.

On this page, you will find the following:

Suggestions for the Home

The following suggestions can make the home safer and more “operational”:

  • Improve lighting. Use overhead lights (determine which type of bulbs are best); use task lights to direct light where it is needed; install under-cabinet lighting and extra lighting in hallways and on stairs; use dimmer switches to control the amount of light in rooms; use night-lights.

  • Control glare; use blinds and curtains in windows when necessary.

  • Be especially careful on stairs. Make sure there is plenty of light, especially on the top and bottom steps (or paint them in contrasting colors); install handrails on both sides; consider marking the edges of steps with bright tape.

  • In the bathroom: install grab bars; put contrasting tape around the edge of the tub; use non-skid, brightly colored mats; always turn hot water off first; use a contrasting color toilet seat, towels and a bright rubber bathmat inside the tub.

  • Consider removing doors, replacing them with bright curtains or painting them contrasting colors; magnetic door stops can help. Ensure that thresholds are flush with the floor.

  • Use brightly colored tape to mark light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other fixtures.

  • Ensure that area rugs are skid-proof and properly tacked down; use contrasting colors to better see them. Replace worn or broken tiles and worn carpeting.

  • Arrange furniture so that it does not impede movement, especially in hallways.

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For daily activities

The following suggestions can ease daily tasks:

  • Use optical devices such as magnifiers, telescopes and closed circuit TV cameras; a vision rehabilitation specialist can determine which are best for each individual.

  • If glare is a problem, consider wearing sunglasses with amber or yellow lenses to help control it, even inside the home.

  • Label medications with large print stickers or use special magnifiers for bottles; keep medications organized.

  • For the computer, use a large type keyboard, larger monitors and screen magnifiers; consider audio aids such as screen reading software. Many websites have adjustable print size and contrast options.

  • Use large text when reading, doing puzzles, playing cards, etc.; listen to audio tapes and books on CD.

  • Sit closer to the TV; ensure that lighting is optimal and control glare.

  • Use the array of available household items designed for those with low vision: clocks, watches and telephones with large letters; “talking” scales and tape measures; special safety cutting devices; and large print labels for medications, grocery items, etc.

  • Organize household items in the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom by always putting them in the same place, especially frequently used items, such as keys, shoes, coats, glasses, pots and pans. Develop a system for grouping clothes and arranging food.

  • Use large stickers on the thermostat, stove and other appliances; mark key positions with raised labels (nail polish or spots of glue work).

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Further Information

The following BrightFocus publications provide more information:

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Source: Some of the above information was obtained from LowVision.com.

Last Review: 08/23/13

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