The Benefits of Contrast With Macular Degeneration
Last updated: October 2023
For hours I’d been searching for my sunglasses. I was determined not to give up, as they were my most expensive pair. They are a wrap-around kind and protect my eyes from glare from all sides. With macular degeneration, you need all the sun protection you can get. I won’t willingly leave home without them. I knew they were there somewhere.
Feeling just about ready to give up the search, I decided a cup of coffee was in order. While I was switching on the electric jug, my hand brushed something on the kitchen bench that I didn’t know was there. Yes, it was my sunglasses! How could I miss them, you might ask? Well, my bench is black marble and my sunglasses are dark brown. I didn’t have the kitchen light on. There was not enough contrast for me to distinguish the sunglasses against the bench.
My color perception is fading
That might not sound too serious, but it gave me a shock. My color perception really is fading. I would have had no trouble seeing those glasses a year ago.
There was no damage done, but it gave me a warning: Don’t put things where you won’t be able to see them. I must remember not to put my mobile phone on the bench, as its case is black. My new smartwatch is also black — and I have a habit of taking it off when I’m cooking. Better watch out for that one (pun intended).
Helping my mother and father with contrast ideas
I should have learned this lesson about contrast earlier. My mother (with advanced macular degeneration) used to lose some of her little white tablets when she took them at the dining table. She had a white lace tablecloth, and I’d often find the little escapees hiding under the tablecloth. I bought her some colored plastic plates to dispense her tablets out onto. She could see the pills against the bright plates and the situation improved.
With my mother’s agreement, I also bought her some bright tablecloths, and then she could see her dinner plates much more easily.
I’d also gone through the contrast dilemma with my father (with wet macular degeneration). He loved his wristwatch, which was comfortable and familiar. He didn’t want a digital one. The problem was that he could no longer make out the silver hands of the watch. The black numbers were clear enough to him, but not the hands. A caring jeweler suggested that he could remove the watch face and paint the hands black (and then return the watch face). We took his advice, and for a very small cost, my father could see his beloved watch again.
Other color contrast solutions for macular degeneration
Something I did for my parents and myself was to buy a colored key for the front door. With so many keys jangling around on the keyring, it can be difficult to find the right one. The contrast made it easier; we all knew that the red key was the key to the front door, whether we were at my parents' place or mine.
In the future, I may try a keyboard overlay for my laptop. Even with the backlight on the keys, it can sometimes be difficult to see what I’m typing. I’ve noticed these keyboard overlays on Amazon. They are available in many contrasting colors. One example is black keys on a yellow background. You can get them in the right size for specific brands of devices. It’s good to know they exist should I need one.
Now, back to my black kitchen bench tops. I’ve bought myself some colored plastic chopping boards and placed one at the end of my bench. But this is not for chopping! If I absolutely must put something down on the bench, say to charge my phone, it will always go on this colored board. It’s a useful step to avoid losing something in the kitchen again. Now to work on the other rooms!
Do you have eye healthy recipes you like to make for the holidays?