Skills for Seeing

Macular disease causes loss of central vision. Skills for Seeing training can help you to use your vision more effectively which could help with reading, taking care of yourself, getting about and watching TV.

We train volunteers to teach two techniques that can help you use your vision more effectively.

Eccentric viewing

This technique involves identifying and using the healthiest parts of your macula. Many people discover eccentric viewing by accident. By scanning what they want to see, they find an area of their vision that gives them a clearer image. This may mean they look slightly above, below, or to the left or right of an object to see it more clearly. For example, you may look slightly above someone’s head to see their face because you can’t see it clearly if you look straight at them. You may use different parts of your vision to do different things; near tasks such as reading may use one area of vision and spotting landmarks another. Working with a coach, you will learn which parts of your remaining vision work best for a variety of tasks. With time and practice, eccentric viewing can become automatic.

Steady eye strategy

Steady eye strategy is a technique that helps your ability to read. When we read we usually hold the page still and move our eyes from left to right across the text and this scanning movement becomes automatic as we learn to read. If you lose your central vision, this way of reading no longer works; the damaged part of the macula will block out the words. Steady eye strategy involves keeping your eyes still and moving the text through the best part of your vision, which in turn can help you read faster and more accurately. This technique is harder to learn than eccentric viewing because it always needs conscious thought to overcome the scanning reflex. It is particularly useful for people who have a very small part of central vision which is still clear.

Will it work for me?

Not everyone needs or is able to learn these techniques; it depends on the size and location of the damage to your macula. It also depends on how much you are prepared to practice. The techniques work best for people with both eyes affected by macular disease, however, if you are only affected in one eye it may still be useful. Learning the skills now can help if the second eye also becomes affected in the future. These techniques won’t make your vision the way it was before your macula was damaged but they may help you use your remaining vision more effectively. Learning these skills will not damage your vision and veryone can benefit from understanding their own vision better, learning about the benefits of lighting and how to use low vision aids more effectively.

For more information about Skills for Seeing and for free one-to-one coaching in these techniques, call the Helpline on 0300 3030 111 or email help@macularsociety.org