Low vision means that your best-corrected visual acuity is 20/70 or poorer. The term "best-corrected" refers to your vision when you're wearing your glasses or contact lenses. When you have low vision, doing everyday tasks can be difficult. Fortunately, there are a number of vision aids that you can use to make the most of the vision you have. Here are three vision aids for people with low vision.
Magnifiers are devices that you can use for close-up tasks like reading a book or doing a crossword puzzle. Both hand-held magnifiers and stand magnifiers are available.
Hand-held magnifiers include magnifying glasses, but more high-tech versions are available. For example, some hand magnifiers have a built-in light to make it easier for your to see. This light can be very useful when you need to read a menu in a dark restaurant or check a price tag in a dimly-lit store. Since hand-held magnifiers are small, you can keep yours in your pocket or purse until you need it.
Stand magnifiers are also available, and, like hand-held magnifiers, some are available with built-in lights. Since you don't need to hold onto stand magnifiers, they're useful for tasks that require both of your hands, like clipping your nails or knitting. Stand magnifiers are also helpful for people who have arthritis or shaky hands and aren't able to hold hand magnifiers steadily.
Electronic Reading Machines
Electronic reading machines are devices that use text-to-speech software to read aloud to users. These machines can be used for both printed materials and electronic materials.
If you want to listen to printed materials, you'll need to place the material you want to read on a scanner. The device will then scan the page to convert it to a computer-editable text. Once the page has been converted to a format the reading machine can understand, the software will read it to you. This technology can be very helpful in an office setting.
While electronic reading machines are usually used for printed materials, this same technology can also be used for electronic materials like web pages or e-books. Software can be downloaded to your computer or e-reader that will read the text aloud to you.
Talking Kitchen Items
Being able to cook your own food is an important part of being independent, but this can be difficult when you have low vision. A range of talking kitchen items are available for your kitchen that can make it easier for you to cook for yourself. Talking appliances, which include talking microwaves, have a prerecorded voice that speaks aloud as you use the appliances. For example, your microwave may make announcements as you set the timer and power and may then announce the running cook time. These announcements prevent you from needing to hold your magnifier up against the microwave while you're using it, which allows you to handle heavy dishes and hot food with both hands.
Kitchen tools like food scales, measuring cups, and food thermometers are also available in talking versions. These devices will read the relevant information aloud to you, which lets you keep both of your hands free while you're cooking.
Talking appliances and tools can be hard to find at traditional home goods stores, so you may need to order your microwave and other appliances from a specialty store that focuses on vision aids.
Having low vision can make daily activities like reading, working, or cooking difficult, but a number of low vision aids are available that can make these tasks easier for you. If you need help choosing an appropriate low vision aid or aren't sure where to buy them, talk to your optometrist.