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HealthInfo Canterbury

Strategies for living with low vision

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Learning to cope with low vision can take time, but many services and products can help you to make the most of your remaining vision and stay independent. Your optometrist will be able to provide advice and tips to help you cope.

As well, low-vision aids are widely available. You can find many through the Blind Foundation's online equipment shop. The foundation has a shop in Christchurch and holds days when you can try out the equipment. Phone the shop on (03) 375‑4300 for more information.

You may also find the page on Disability aids helpful.

You may be able to get financial help to pay for low-vision aids or modifications to your home. To find out if you are eligible for funding, your GP will need to refer you to an occupational therapist for an assessment.

Tips for living with low vision

Use contrasting colours

Light it up

Label everything

Make it bigger

Keep it tidy

It's easier to find things if you know where they are. If you're not used to keeping things tidy, it may take some time to get into the habit, but life will be easier once you do.

Stay safe

Seek help

Asking for help is often the hardest thing to do, but it can make a big difference to your life. Staff in many shops are trained to help people with low vision. Even passersby are often happy to help if you ask them.

The Blind Foundation offers recreation and support services and Age Concern Canterbury can also help you find services and support.

Use the buddy system

Low vision is common among older adults. As one of the side effects of low vision is a feeling of loneliness, finding a friend or support system in your community can be very helpful. It can also help to learn tips and tricks that have worked for other people in the same situation.

Try one of the following support groups:

Albinism Trust

Website: www.albinism.org.nz

Diabetes New Zealand

Phone: 0800 DIABETES (0800‑342‑238)

Website: www.diabetes.org.nz

Glaucoma New Zealand

Phone: 0800 GLAUCOMA (0800‑452‑826)

Website: www.glaucoma.org.nz

Macular Degeneration Support Line

Phone: 0800 MACULA (0800‑622‑852)

Parents of Vision Impaired (PVI)

Phone: (04) 293-8236

Website: www.pvi.org.nz

Retina New Zealand and Retina Youth

Phone: 0800 LOW VIZ (0800‑569‑849) – general information

0800‑233‑833 – peer support

Website: www.retina.org.nz

Be patient

Coping with low vision is not simple. Developing your own tricks and methods takes time and effort. Go easy on yourself and keep trying. Eventually, you will find the best solutions for your specific visual impairment.

Practise

It's important that you keep your interests, hobbies and social contacts. Once you have decided how to do things, practise doing them. The more you practise your new methods, the easier things will become.

Written by occupational therapy liaison, Canterbury Initiative. Endorsed by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Updated August 2016.

Sources

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Page reference: 127683

Review key: HILOV-121114