“We’re doing all we can do. It’s not going to get any better, and it may get worse.”
Such a medical prognosis can make a person feel helpless. But it is important to recognize the difference between a medical diagnosis and your potential for maximizing your day-to-day vision. Your doctor’s presentation of an anatomical problem –a scar on the macula for example – and the related impairment found in an acuity test – a loss of ability to see detail for example – describe how your eyes are functioning. They are not a sentence handed down on your ability to improve your vision, remain independent and lead a full life.
Vision impairment / low vision / vision loss
The terms vision impairment and vision loss are often used interchangeably to describe a decrease in ability to see that causes problems not fixable by prescription lenses, medications or surgery. Although low vision technically defines a certain level of acuity loss, in practice the three terms each describe any interference with sight from disease, trauma or congenital disorder that hinders the performance of daily activities.
Coping with vision loss
There are several paths to take to help you cope with vision loss, and they intersect each other. We have separated them into “Helping yourself” and “Getting help” but there is no firm line between them.
You can maximize your vision and quality of life by:
- Learning new ways to perform your daily living activities
You can learn some of these here, many more in books and websites devoted to low vision. And you can be trained by a specialist who can observe how you are doing things now and adapt the training to your needs.
- Vision enhancement
You can learn tips and tricks about strategies such as increasing and optimizing illumination and magnification. Again, many of these can be learned and undertaken on your own, but a specialist can personalize the training and advice to your needs. Vision enhancement includes devices.
Assistive devices such as magnifiers and readers are an integral part of optimizing activities of daily living. These are available in stores, catalogs and online. But choosing the right device can be tricky, and a specialist can not only help you find the right device but also train you in its use.
There are techniques you can from a low vision professional such as scanning eye movements to reduce blind spots.
- In the Helping yourself module you can learn about vision-enhancing devices and aids as well as techniques for optimizing your vision. Helping yourself
- In the Getting help module you can learn about how professional services can equip you with skills and strategies to help you stay active, safe and independent. Getting help
- Learning how to play an active role in your treatment, becoming a partner with your doctor, empowers you to use optimize the ways you use your vision.