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For patients who have low vision it means that vision is still reduced with glasses, contact lenses or after surgery. Low vision includes different types and degrees of sight loss - it can mean having blind spots, difficulty seeing at night, blurred vision, difficulty seeing contrast, reduced peripheral vision or a combination of all of these. The most common causes are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetes.


If you have low vision, there are a range of vision aids and assistive technologies, which might help you to keep doing what you love.  Low vision clinics are specialist vision clinics which are there to help you do just that. 


Being diagnosed with low vision can be a real blow and people often wonder about how they will be able to continue doing the things they love.  Whatever it is that you want to use your vision for - a hobby, meeting friends, continuing to work - there is often a “good tool” to help you.  There are specialist vision aids, technologies and adaptations that can help you keep working, reading, cooking, gardening. 


Most regions in the UK have access to a low vision clinic provided either at their NHS hospital trust or perhaps in a community clinic or charity.  Talk to your optometrist, dispensing optician, ophthalmologist or GP about vision aids and referring you to your local low vision clinic/service.


Sometimes there are quick and inexpensive changes that can be made to help keep doing the things we love.  If you struggle with contrast or judging the definitions of items, an easy way to help with this is to introduce more colour contrast.  For example, if you love cooking - you might get some different coloured chopping boards, utensils, bowls and pans to help with the definition of items against your counter tops.


There are some great, inexpensive items, which could help for example, an oven ‘bump-on’ to easily set your oven to the right temperature.  We’re not certain anyone loves ironing - but there are ironing gloves which can make this easier and safer.  If you like creating things, on a workbench for example, you could add a silicon cutting board that’s a different colour to the wood or material that you’re working on.  You can wrap tool handles in coloured insulation tape to help identify them and reach for them easily. 


You can also buy items like talking tape measures, talking weighing scales and talking books, which can take the pressure off of your eyes by letting your hearing bring you some of the information you need instead.


Lighting can make a huge difference to your vision using good quality task lamp that you can angle towards the job you’re tackling.  Extra lighting in your kitchen such as several LED spotlights, or under-cabinet kitchen lights can help your eyes make the most of the visual scene in front of you.  An LED daylight lamp can really help you and lighting is a simple way to help make the most of your vision, which can sometimes be overlooked.


Sometimes people with low vision find it hard to exercise or feel they have to give up on a sport they love.  Every sport can be modified to allow you to continue to compete and people with vision impairment compete at high levels in all sports - take Anastasia Pagonis for example, a severely sight impaired swimmer who won her gold medal, aged 17 years, at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. 


The football association (FA) run “blind football” and “partially-sighted football” - see British Blind Sport for information about keeping going or taking up the sport you love.  Many regions have walking and rambling groups and if you like biking, why not try tandem biking with a sighted partner. Visit Vision Aware for more information.


Joining a group where you meet with others can be a good source of information exchange for tips on making the most of life with low vision.  We know of gardening groups, reading clubs, vision impaired choirs.. Visionary might help you find a group near you.


Sometimes practical changes can be helpful.  For example, if you love gardening, you could consider growing plants in containers and might pick some easily identified plants such as herbs like lavender to help you navigate and let you garden anywhere. 


There are specialist TV glasses that the low vision service might be able to provide you with to make tuning into favourite programmes easier, there are a range of magnifiers which can help you keep crafting, sewing, playing board games with the children or grandchildren, or whatever it is that you want to do. 


Our message is this - whatever you want to keep doing or whatever hobby or work you want to start, don’t give up, there will be a “right tool for the job”.  We as low vision practitioners can help you find it.  If you haven’t been seen for a while or ever - ask for a referral to your low vision NHS service.  We would love to help you keep doing what you love.


There are lots of resources online, too many to list here, but here’s a start:

Sight and sound technology provide lots of assistive technology products for people with low vision are happy to be contacted for a free visit or demonstration.


Some other national organisations providing help and support:

●     The Macular Society

●     Glaucoma UK

●     Retina UK

●     Diabetes UK 

●     Blind Veterans UK

●     Royal Society for Blind Children

●     SeeAbility

●     Thomas Pocklington Trust


Written by Charlotte Codina and Martin Rhodes (British & Irish Orthoptic Society Clinical Activity Group Leads for Low Vision).