When treating vision loss it is important to consider the practical aspects of the condition, as well as its physiological effects. With this in mind, there are a number of adaptations a glaucoma patient can make to maintain their quality of life and independence.
Glaucoma affects vision in a number of ways – peripheral vision is normally affected, with some patients experiencing tunnel vision. Vision may become blurred or hazy as well, and if left untreated a person will become blind.
Each person with glaucoma is different, and their needs will depend on the type of glaucoma they have and how advanced it is. The key is to tailor adaptations to a person’s needs in order to find the best solutions for them. There are a number of adaptations that can be made, including:
Low vision aids
In the early stages of glaucoma magnifying glasses or clip-ons for spectacles can be useful for reading. Because glaucoma causes blurred or hazy vision the use of contrast-enhancing and glare reducing lenses or filters can also help a patient to see more clearly.
If available, patients should be referred to a low vision specialist who can assess their needs and provide the right equipment.
Adapted home decor
A few simple changes to the home can make a huge difference to the everyday life of a glaucoma patient. Placing spot lamps around the house make it easy for a person to quickly access additional light in order to read more clearly, for example.
High-contrast décor is a very effective technique to improve mobility around the home. White walls and dark furniture can help prevent trips and falls, and make it easier for people to locate objects or orientate themselves.
Large print clocks or talking clocks can help those with advanced vision loss manage their day.
One simple but very effective change to make is to reduce clutter in the home. Reduce the amount of small objects on the floor – items like magazine racks, small storage or wires can all be trip hazards. A regular spring clean makes it easier for a person to find objects in wardrobes, cupboards and drawers too.
Making cooking and food preparation safer
The kitchen can contain many hazards if not properly adapted for those with visual impairment. A few changes can vastly improve safety and allow a person to keep preparing drinks and meals for themselves. Labelling items clearly and in large print helps a person prepare food on a daily basis. Items should always be kept in the same place, to avoid confusion and make meal preparation less stressful.Vision Aware recommend that people should avoid unnecessary lifting, bending or stretching. Placing frequently used items in easy to reach places is a simple way to overcome this.
Using technology to maintain independence
We are fortunate to have easy access to technology which helps to improve and enhance the lives of those with low vision. On a basic level, text can be made larger to make these devices easier to use. Speech recognition software can perform basic searches, provide information and perform certain tasks – like telling the time or giving appointment reminders.
The AFB recently published an article on useful Android apps for those with low vision.
Depending on the extent of vision loss and the prognosis, some patients may require mobility training to maintain independence in and out of the home. Patients are taught how to maximise use of their other senses, how to use a cane and how to seek assistance from others. Find out more about this and techniques for those with low vision on the Vision Aware website.
Quality of life and glaucoma
These often simple adaptations can make a huge difference to preserving and improving a person’s quality of life, which is vital when managing a condition like glaucoma.
Read more about quality of life and glaucoma in our accompanying blog, including ways to preserve a patient’s independence.