February is Low Vision Awareness Month

After the Valentine’s hype fades, tune into other things going on in the wintry month of February. There are Presidential birthdays AND a month devoted to a health issue that impacts so many of the seniors we know and love…Low Vision. What exactly IS low vision? The National Eye Institute (NEI) defines this as “visual impairment that cannot be corrected by standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, or medication.”

If you or an older loved one notices vision problems, such as difficulty reading a book, watching TV or recognizing faces, visit an eye doctor for a thorough exam. Some vision loss can be halted. In related good news, Harvard researchers recently reported that improvements in cataract surgery result in increased independence enjoyed by seniors.

According to the NEI, there’s also something called visual rehabilitation that can help with low vision. Think of it as akin to physical therapy or occupational therapy. Vision rehabilitation helps folks utilize their existing sight and learn compensatory strategies to continue living a safe, productive, independent and rewarding life. Vision rehab includes:

Learning how to use magnifying and other adaptive devices. Magnifiers and special glasses help patients maximize remaining vision. Patients also learn about accessible-reading materials—large-print books to screen-reading software.

Developing strategies to navigate in and out of the home. People with low vision tend to stay close to home, which could contribute to social isolation and inactivity. But orientation and mobility specialists can help you get around safely in the home, then work up to venturing out into the community.

Learning new daily living skills for safety and independence. Occupational therapists and vision rehabilitation therapists teach new ways to do things, such as cooking and managing medicine. They can improve the home environment to accommodate low vision by adding better lighting or getting remote controls with raised markings.

Getting emotional support.  Counseling helps low vision patients develop coping and problem-solving skills. Support groups for people with low vision are a great way to learn realistic tips and seek comfort in shared experiences.

Incorporating family and friends into Project Low Vision. They can assist in adapting the home and in accompanying their loved one in public. Families can work with their professional in-home caregiver to keep their loved one safe while supporting independence. If you’re in this situation, ask Granny Nannies how their professionals can help your loved one with low vision. To find a vision rehab service that’s close by, visit:  https://www.visionaware.org/default.aspx