The American Academy of Ophthalmology has released a handful of tips that can help vision-impaired elders remain safe and independent in their living spaces. This includes:
Improve contrast to make objects and areas stand out in living spaces: Put dark place mats under white place settings, buy rugs that are a contrasting color with the floor, and kitchen towels and cutting boards that contrast with the countertop. It can also be helpful to run contrasting colored tape along the edges of rugs, stair steps and lamp shades.
Improve lighting: Add lighting to staircases and dark hallways. Remove rugs from hallways to prevent tripping. Task lighting in the kitchen can help make food preparation safer and easier.
Reduce clutter and organize: A cluttered living space is more difficult to navigate and can contribute to falls and frustration. When each item has a specific place and is identified with a high-contrast label, it’s easier to locate items needed for everyday living.
Embrace technology: Books on tape and personal voice-activated assistants, like Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa, can serve as aids for people who can no longer see well enough to read, dial a phone or set a thermostat.
People whose vision is changing should visit a specialist early so they can be involved in learning to navigate their new world, said John D. Shepherd, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the organization.
“While there isn’t one strategy or tool that works for every person, vision rehabilitation offers hope,” Shepherd said. “It can help people stay in their homes and keep doing the things they love to do.”
Age-related low vision is significant visual impairment that can’t be completely corrected with glasses. Macular degeneration is a leading cause of the problem. Other common contributors include diabetic eye disease, glaucoma and inherited retinal diseases.