What Low Vision Aids Do You Use? Bet You Don’t Know About All of Them!
I like to do polls in my Facebook group for those with macular degeneration. They’re not scientific polls, of course, but they give me a sense of what is going on with the people who regularly come to the group.
In a recent poll, I listed all the low vision devices that I thought about at the time. A few were added by members. There were quite a few comments from people who had no idea there were so many! Let's see how many YOU know about.
Commonly used low vision aids
There are some low vision devices and aids that are used regularly. No surprises in this list, I don't think.
- Reading glasses for seeing close
- Android or Apple smartphone and/or tablet
- Small handheld magnifier with a light.
- E-book reader and audiobook player such as Amazon Kindle and Audible or Barnes & Noble Nook.
- Under counter and cabinet LED lights
- Handheld binoculars or monocular
- TV glasses for distance viewing
- Headband magnifier with light (like jeweler’s use)
- Magnifier on a stand
- Magnifier attached to a lamp
- Large computer screen
What is NOT often used
There are some devices that provide a lot of assistance but may not be used as much because the prices can be (and some are definitely) higher:
- CCTV: not the security systems but devices that use a video camera to show images on a screen that can be made larger or manipulated in some way to make them easier to see. They can be expensive.
- Headworn smart glasses and goggles: they can be the most expensive of low vision aids. Some brands are OrCam, IrisVision, and eSight.
- Handheld digital magnifiers (small, portable CCTVs).
- Telescopes mounted on eyeglasses that cover the eyes.
- Telescopes mounted on eyeglasses called bioptics that are above the eyes and which in some states can be used for driving.
What did I miss?
When the poll was over, I realized that I hadn’t listed all of the low vision aids I've come across these 4 years. I'm sure I have missed some more in this article. I hope that you find that to be encouraging....I do!
Smart home technology
Amazon Alexa or Google Home used to create a ‘smart home.’ There's quite a lot of enthusiasm for these products for use by those with a visual impairment. The devices use voice assistants like Alexa to allow the user to access information easily and control other devices around your home.
Low-tech low vision aids
- Location aids. Receivers to put on keys, wallets, and other objects that come with a pager to find the receivers. These are the ones that don't connect to a smartphone or tablet. If you frequently lose track of your keys or your wallet, this is one way to help with that. You DO have to keep track of the pager!
- Audiobook players from the National Library Service (NLS) or DAISY audiobook players (Digital Accessible Information System): You get a player that is much like the 'old' cassette players with buttons and you get cartridges with the audiobooks on them. Put the cartridge in the player and use the buttons. Great for those who aren't technology savvy.
Where to find these aids
I'm giving you a long list of aids in the next section that can be purchased in two ways:
- Online: MaxiAids.com, Amazon.com, and other online assistive devices stores. Google has an option for 'shopping' where you can search for 'low vision aids' and choose 'shopping' from the Google options. When you buy something online, I recommend that you make sure you can return it easily and for free.
- At stores near you where you can try them: you can search for ‘low vision aids near me‘ to find local stores and providers.
Low vision aids that talk
There are quite a few aids that have output that you can hear:
- Talking watches and alarm clocks
- Talking scales (not sure I want to hear what MINE has to say sometimes! 😀)
- Talking calculators
- Telephones that announce caller IDs
- Talking labels for clothes, pantry items, medications - create your own or use pre-defined ones): Lots of uses such as labeling the color of clothes, pantry items, medications.
- Handheld color & light detectors (can also be done with smartphone & tablet apps).
- Paper money identifiers (can also be done with smartphone & tablet apps).
- Voice recorder that tells you what options you are choosing
- Talking tape measures
Tech-free low vision aids
- Magnifying mirrors for makeup and grooming<./li>
- White sticks/canes for mobility.
- Liquid level alerting devices to make sure you don’t overfill a container.
- Bold line paper (white or yellow) and bold pens that won’t smudge or bleed through the paper.
- Bump Dots and tactile marking liquids to add where you need need to use specific settings on dials, for example, such as on a microwave, stove, washer, dryer.
- Large button TV remotes and telephones.
- Reflective tape to mark edges.
- Writing guides: A line at a time, checkbook, envelope, signature, notes, full page, greeting cards.
- Sewing and craft aids: Self-threading needles and needle threaders, seam guides, magnifiers designed for sewing machines, seam ripper with magnifier, lighted knitting needles and crochet hooks, scissors with magnifier, tactile measuring tape.
More low vision aids
Is that all? Of course not! I'm sure as you begin to explore what low vision aids are available, you will find more of them. It seems like every day there is something new that is coming out to help. That is GREAT news!
Do you have a favorite low vision aid? Tell us about it.
Do you feel that you've maintained independence with macular degeneration?