The 3 insider tips that maximize you functional vision.
reading time: 10 minutes tags: functional
When we hear words like "adapted" and "assistive" it can be hard not to imagine something complex, or new. The real truth is that much of the "adapting" that takes place in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy can be distilled down to three basic ideas: Magnification, Illumination and Contrast.
There are an array of tools that range from high to low-tech solutions. Familiarize yourself with these concepts to further your self-education.
Low-Tech & High-Tech
I can't really get into ANY type of magnifier without mentioning VFO. VFO is the mama bear of producing handheld, video and CCTV magnifiers. Many Low Vision Specialists (DO or MD) will have access to these products in their offices and will prescribe the appropriate power, or strength for you.
Let me know if you need help locating a Low Vision Specialist in your area, and in the meantime check out the VFO website, home to Freedom Scientific, Optelec and Ai Squared.
There is stunning innovation happening in the realm of magnification. The beauty is that designers are making the "high-tech" video magnifiers (such as the Ruby HD) deceivingly low-tech in style. Many of the handheld magnifiers such as the Power Mag, are excellent for use in spot reading (reading medication bottles, food labels, mail, etc).
Probably the easiest place to start, you may already be noticing that better-lit environments are easier for you to read, write, travel and perform everyday tasks in. A little extra light can go a long way, and there is an immense range of products that can help you.
I usually like to start with your existing light bulbs. Can a stronger, energy-efficient bulb replace your existing one? You should definitely be aware of the wattage-capacity of the various lamps in your home before replacing them. You can figure this out by speaking to an electrician regarding your desired changes.
An easier, hassle-free option is to invest in table-top or standing lamps that provide a bright, flat, white-colored light at your kitchen table, or office desk.
A simple solution here is a flashlight. I've had clients in the past that travel with upwards of 5+ flashlights. Flashlights (or magnifiers with built-in lights) can be life-changing when it comes to searching through your suitcase, purse, or bag for smaller items. Many people enjoy using the flashlight built into their smartphones, just keeping in mind that this drains battery.
Cooking, taking notes, making lists, eating, and so many more Activities of Daily Living can be made easier with contrast. Contrast is best described as putting dark and light objects together to help make them more visible. I'll be reviewing plenty of tools that can help you increase contrast throughout your home, but I want to stress the importance of integrating into your home design.
- When eating dark foods, they will be made more visible if you eat them on a white or light-colored plate.
- When writing lists, the words will be made more visible if you writing them with bold, black markers.
- When cooking, using a white cutting board for dark foods, and a dark cutting board for light foods.
The most effective way to increase contrast when outdoors is to wear sunglasses. Of course there are plenty of types of sunglasses to purchase and wear for style, but the key is polarization and hue. When looking for sunglasses it's important to try on polarized lenses in different colors so that you can see which color works best for your vision. A Low Vision Specialist or Orientation and Mobility instructor can also provide you with a Sun Lens Assessment to determine the best fit for you.