Vision loss has a significant impact on the lives of those who experience it as well as on their families, their friends and society, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Vision loss can affect one's quality of life, independence and mobility. It has been linked to falls, injury, worsening of mental health, cognition, social function, employment and educational attainment.
Medication side effects also can factor into eye problems. Always check with your doctor about the possible side effects of drugs and, if eye issues are among them, be sure to have eyes checked regularly.
What to do if you or a loved one are experiencing vision loss
The following are suggestions from the Weigel Williamson Center for Visual Rehabilitation, University of Nebraska Medical Center.
• Accentuate light and dark contrasts. For example, avoid placing light foods such as mashed potatoes and chicken on white plates.
• Improve lighting throughout the house, particularly in bedrooms, kitchens bathrooms and on stairs. Consider adding an additional countertop light or lamp near cutting boards and other food preparation areas.
• Reduce glare by adding window coverings or window film.
• Use large print and magnifying glasses to read, cook and take medications.
Take advantage of electronic and audio products. And check out these apps for individuals with low or no vision.
Apple (iPhones) has enhancements that are accessible for those who are blind or have low vision. VoiceOver is Apples gesture-based screen reader that lets you enjoy using iPhone even if you don’t see the screen. Hear a description of everything happening on your screen, from battery level to who’s calling to which app your finger is on with the VoiceOver enabled on your Apple device. You can also adjust the speaking rate and pitch to suit you. Additionally it has a magnifier built in that works like a digital magnifying glass. To meet your individual needs you can also choose from a range of color filters to support your specific vision needs.
Likewise, Android offers several apps such as BIG Launcher ($10, Android 2.1 or later) that is a simplified Android launcher, with large icons and text and a choice of color themes. Using BIG Launcher, your home screen is replaced by a thick-lined grid, with room for just a few apps, each of which has an extra-large icon. TalkBack screen reader on Android's recent versions, allow users with low vision to build their own accessible experiences using a combination of settings for changing the way the screen looks
How to empathize with someone who has vision problems
Want to learn more about what it’s like to have vision problems?
Try the following exercises to experience vision impairment for yourself:
• Fold a plastic bag four times and hold it in front of your eyes, then attempt to make out words on a paper or images in front of you.
• Stick masking tape on each half of an eyeglass lens to help empathize with someone who has glaucoma.
A healthy lifestyle can preserve vision
A healthy lifestyle is an important way to preserve vision. For example, a diet lacking antioxidant vitamins or eating too much junk food has been linked to cataracts and macular degeneration.
Foods to keep eyes healthy:
• Fruits and vegetables (good sources of vitamins C and E)
• Dark green vegetables such as kale and spinach (lutein, vitamin E)
• Beef, eggs, lamb, milk, peanuts, pork and whole grains (zinc)
• Bananas, chicken, dried beans, fish, liver, pork and potatoes (vitamin B6)
• Citrus fruits, fortified cereals, dried beans, green leafy vegetables, liver, mushrooms, nuts and peas (folic acid)
• Dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry and shellfish (vitamin B12)
Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.