Ask the Advocates: Lifestyle Changes
Last updated: February 2022
Adjusting to vision loss from macular degeneration or Stargardt's disease can be daunting.
We asked MacularDegneration.net advocates what tools, apps, and other gadgets make living with macular degeneration easier. We also asked what accommodations help them continue doing what they love, whether that is sewing, painting, or driving. Check out their responses below or share your own experiences!
What tools, gadgets, apps, or other technology have helped you adjust to life with macular degeneration??
Smartphones and good lighting are favorites on this team!
"My smartphone is a wonderful help. I use the magnifying app with a built-in torch to look at labels in the supermarket. Alternatively, I take a quick picture of the label, put the jar or packet back on the shelf, and enlarge the photo to check the ingredients. On my laptop, I have the font and the background in the size and color, which is easiest for me to read. I am trialing audio descriptions on my television and at the movies in case I need to use them later on."
"I have a wonderful dimmable LED swing-arm floor lamp that helps with the need for brighter light when reading or doing close work. My small portable folding lighted magnifier has been mostly replaced by my iPhone. My other favorites are an LED light strip over the bed of the sewing machine and the Ott light beside it."
"I am an admitted techno-geek and love all gadgets. My best tools are anything Apple-related: iPhone, Apple Watch, and iMac 27-inch screen – all these have afforded me so much more connection to my world. Adding an additional LED lamp has also enhanced my art-creating world."
"I have enlarged the fonts on all my electronic devices and phone. Also, I have adjusted the brightness and backlighting on my devices. Using a bold font also helps me to read on my devices. Lighting is very important with low vision."
"The accessibility settings on my iPhone and iPad have been invaluable to me. I am able to enlarge the text and adjust the contrast features, making it much easier to read. I also use the magnifying app frequently on my iPhone. I use the microphone to write rather than the keyboard."
"I love my iPad Pro – the largest screen you can buy for an iPad. It is very helpful to easily enlarge the print. I seldom read printed material, books, or magazines anymore. Everything is on my iPad. I also love using the microphone on both my iPhone and iPad to type. Of course, I have magnifying glasses tucked everywhere, but my favorite is a lighted, handheld light I keep handy by my reading chair."
"My favorite tool is my zoom app on my phone. It comes in handy often, and I always have my phone. I also have a magnifying glass that I use at home. It generally moves from room to room with me and even sometimes without me. I’ve also become accustomed to using my white cane in crowds. It has been providing me comfort in visually unfamiliar places."
"My eyes are sensitive to light. It has helped me so much to figure out how to adjust lighting preferences on all of my devices. So far, this is the only adjustment I've had to make. That is, besides asking another person for help when I can't read something. I have no problem asking someone to read something for me, explaining that I can't see that far. I used to be shyer about it, but at this point, I will take all the help I can get."
What are your favorite hobbies? How have your hobbies changed?
Doing what we love is important for our well-being. Share some of your favorite hobbies!
"I’ve always enjoyed painting. It has been challenging trying to focus on small details. However, when I take my time, it’s still pretty satisfying, although maybe not as neat. When I go to painting classes, I try to call ahead and ask if I can have seating close to the instructor and stage. I’ll even stand up and walk up to the painting, peer closely at it, and return to my seat."
"It is becoming harder for me to draw pencil portraits, but I only did them sporadically anyway, when I felt like drawing. AMD helped by creating some urgency to complete portraits of all my grandchildren before I can no longer do them. Being diagnosed with AMD made me take my writing more seriously, realizing this is something I could still do as my vision declines."
"Art is my hobby, it's what I do. All forms, whenever I can. Yes, there have been adjustments, larger computer screen to enhance what I am trying to recreate. Extra lighting overhead and a desktop have also been added to my workspace, brightening up everything around me."
"I collect succulents, and I can still do this if I move the pots and plants into a situation with good lighting. I'm not comfortable reading books in bed anymore, so I've taken to listening to podcasts. Although they're usually very interesting, I have a list of unfinished ones to catch up on because they usually put me to sleep. I don't drive at night now unless I'm in my local area where I'm very familiar with the terrain. I'm familiarizing myself with Uber for this purpose."
"I still enjoy all of my hobbies the same as I did before my diagnosis. I am just more careful about them now. For example, I still run and walk for exercise, but I am sure to have sunglasses with me at all times. I am a writer, and technology has made it easy for me to continue to write with minimal adjustments with lighting, background, and font color changes."
"I can still enjoy my sewing and quilting if I don’t try to sew the darker colors. There’s just not enough light for those. Also, my color perception is not as good as it once was. Reading is still enjoyable, although it often needs to be on my iPad where I can increase the contrast and the font or even invert the colors."
"I used to fish quite a lot, but I have trouble tying the small knots on the fishing line to hooks and lures. I still go occasionally but need a partner to assist me. I don’t golf anymore, even though the house I live in is on a golf course! I can still hit it pretty well... I just can’t see where my ball is going!
Fitness classes and working out at my gym have been great substitutes for my lost hobbies."
"Reading is my favorite hobby and very difficult with macular degeneration. I also have chronic dry eye, which blurs my vision. I gave up crochet completely. It’s just too difficult to see those small stitches. I can still sew by adding an LED light strip to my sewing machine. Even with that extra lighting, it’s very difficult to get the machine threaded."
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