Lighting and decor
By age 60 we need 3 times more light than we did at the age of 21. If you also have poor vision then good lighting is vital. Many people who think they need low vision aids actually just need better lighting. At home we mostly use general lighting and task lighting. General lighting needs to be bright and even, without causing glare. Effective task lighting, for activities such as reading, can make a surprisingly big difference.
Décor can be used to control glare, give perspective to a room and aid navigation. For example, pale walls and ceilings best reflect light back into a room. Window and door frames painted a different colour from the walls can make them easier to see, and it might be better to avoid patterned wallpaper or curtains.
Food and drink
Use the big, bright and bold principles. Good task lighting and good colour and contrast makes objects stand out. For example, using different coloured chopping boards for different food types and contrasting crockery with tablecloths can make them easier to see. Wrapping brightly coloured tape around the handles of utensils and tools can also make them easier to find.
Many people have found using 'talking' kitchen items, such as microwaves and scales, very helpful.
Some people find it helpful to peg shoes together in pairs and hang colour-coordinated outfits together, and some people sew different shaped buttons inside clothing to indicate different colours. Other handy tips include applying toothpaste to your finger first if you have trouble getting it on the brush.
If you let your pharmacist and GP know that you have difficulty reading medication leaflets, they can provide alternatives. A pill organiser box can be useful, along with placing tablets on a brightly coloured cloth to make them easier to see. Easy-to-use eye drop dispensers and 'talking' blood glucose and blood pressure monitors are also available. You can also talk to your pharmacist to find out what they have available.
Big button phones and large print address books are very helpful. Task lighting by the phone also helps, along with programming the speed dial function to store numbers with one button. BT customers with sight loss can get a free directory enquiries service, without being registered as visually impaired. To find out more and register ring 0800 587 0195. Your GP or optician can sign the application form.
You may find watching TV becomes more difficult. In the first instance, try sitting closer to the screen; this will not harm your eyes. If it is not practical to do so, you could try a telescopic magnifier, which you can ask your low vision service about. Facing the screen directly can place your worst vision in front of the screen so if one eye is better than the other, try turning your chair about 45 degrees so you are able to look at the screen with your better eye. Some people with central vision loss use Eccentric Viewing techniques for tasks such as watching TV, where they identify the clearest part of their vision and learn to use it effectively. It's worth bearing in mind that if you are using Eccentric Viewing a larger TV screen will not help you see more. You can also try locating the TV away from windows, doors or lamps. Alternatively, try closing curtains to reduce glare and adjust the picture colour and contrast. Find out more information about using Eccentric Viewing with our Skills for Seeing training.
Large button remote controls are compatible with most TVs and are available from low vision suppliers. A piece of brightly coloured tape on the back of the remote can make it easier to find. Using paint, nail varnish or correcting fluid to highlight one or two key buttons can also help you to navigate the controls or a ‘bump-on’ sticker can also be used if you have difficulty finding the TV on/off switch. The ‘Big Print’ is a weekly large print subscription newspaper delivered by post that has a TV and radio guide.