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Living with Visual Impairment

Weakening eyesight can be a terrifying and deeply inhibiting loss. Sight is the primary way we make our way through the world, so with it impaired or gone, it’s easy to feel trapped or lost even in your own home. With the numerous conditions that can cause vision impairment or blindness, it’s no wonder so many people experience it. If you’re beginning to experience vision loss, there are steps you can take to help ensure it doesn’t upend your life!

Home Safety for the Visually Impaired

First and foremost, you should always be safe in your own home. Fall prevention is a big priority for home safety. If your eyesight is just weakened and you’re not legally blind, you can try decorating your home with contrasting colors, making it easier to distinguish your surroundings. For example, having a non-slip liner or different colored rug on the stairs can help make the stairs stand out from the floor. Ensure that the flooring in your home, whether hardwood, laminate, or rug, is secure and that there aren’t surprise bumps or tripping hazards that may be hard to see.

If your eyesight is bad enough that the stairs are a problem, even with a different colored rug, consider moving your bedroom to the first floor.

You should also make sure that your appliances and home devices like telephones are easy to read. You don’t want to accidentally leave the stove running because you hit the wrong button. Of course, the specific changes you make will depend on your type of visual impairment and how severe it is. If your eyesight is bad enough that the stairs are a problem, even with the different color rug, consider moving your bedroom to the first floor.

Safety While You’re Out and About

Personal safety doesn’t begin and end at your front door. When you’re out grocery shopping or having a bit of fun, it’s important that you don’t let your vision impairment put you at risk, too. A good pair of eyeglasses can help here, but if your vision has weakened enough, a visual impairment cane can be an effective way to feel out your surroundings before they can put you at risk.

If one of your senses is impaired, especially your eyesight, it may be a good time to stop driving and figure out a safer way to get around.

Of course, the most important safety decision you can make is about driving. As we get older, driving accidents become more dangerous, even though seniors also tend to be the safest drivers. If one of your senses is impaired, especially your eyesight, it may be a good time to stop driving and figure out a safer way to get around.

Don’t Let Your Eyesight Impair Your Hobbies

Now, it doesn’t need to be all about safety. Vision impairment can also make it harder to enjoy many of the things you used to. Books become harder to read. The TV becomes harder to watch. It’s even harder to go golfing, with the little ball that you aim at the hard-to-see flag a long way away. Many of these concerns can be dealt with by getting equipment specifically geared toward the visually impaired. For paperback books, you can easily purchase large print versions of the books. If you own an e-reader or use a tablet or smartphone, simply adjust the font size in settings to make it easier to read.

If your hobbies are still safe, there are ways you can likely enjoy them despite your vision.

Many televisions now are making watching TV even more accessible for those with vision loss (this could also be the excuse to get a new big screen TV that you’ve been looking for). As for something like golf, you may need to get specialized equipment, like brightly colored golf balls that are easier to spot or change up your game a little. For golf specifically, there’s an entire association dedicated to golf for those with low vision called the United States Blind Golf Association. If your hobbies are still safe (woodworking may not be the best idea), there are ways you can likely enjoy them despite your vision.

Take Care of Your Eyes Now

While lifestyle, diet, and health changes may not reverse or even completely stop all cases of vision decline, they may slow it in some cases. Even if that’s the case, slowing the decline may give you valuable months or even years of sight. Getting lots of foods that promote eye health like fatty fish and fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins A, C, and E can keep your eyes strong to combat decline.

Protecting your eyes from strain by wearing sunglasses or limiting your time in front of screens can also be important.

If you smoke, you should also consider quitting, since there is a strong correlation between smoking and vision impairment. Protecting your eyes from strain by wearing sunglasses or limiting your time in front of screens can also be important. These tips aren’t guaranteed to work immediately, but if you consistently protect the health of your eyes, there’s a strong likelihood that it can make a difference.

Regularly Visit Your Eye Doctor

Along with living an eye-healthy lifestyle, working with your doctor to maintain your eye health can be critical. This can either be your primary care physician or a specialized eye doctor, as long as it’s someone who knows enough about eyes to be an expert.

Maintaining your routine eye checkups, along with any additional appointments that are necessary, can help your doctor maintain up-to-date knowledge on your vision and make suggestions for the treatment of any conditions you have. Medicare can help with these visits, whether it’s an Annual Wellness visit or part of your treatment for a condition that can cause vision impairment. Currently, Original Medicare doesn’t cover routine vision checkups, but many Medicare Advantage plans offer some form of coverage.

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If you’re experiencing vision loss, it may feel like a punch in the gut, but you can still live a full and happy life. Even if the condition progresses to the point where you need a caretaker or extra help, there’s no shame in that. If you work with your doctor, live a healthy life, and plan for your safety and enjoyment, vision impairment doesn’t have to have a major negative impact your life.