A smart phone, tablet, and book sitting on a table

Reading With Macular Degeneration

How do you like to read with low vision? When you read for pleasure, do you read on electronic devices?

Or are you one of the lucky ones still able to hold an actual book in your hands and read with enjoyment? Perhaps large print works. Or what about listening to an audiobook?

Low vision reading

I usually download books from the library to my iPad, where I can invert the colors and read the white printing on a black background. This helps hide those grey smudges in the middle of my vision. A slight increase in font size helps as well, so far.

I’ve been reading a series of mysteries by Louise Penny, a Canadian author who also recently penned a book with Hillary Clinton, called “State of Terror”. Definitely a page-turner. If you enjoy mysteries, her “Three Pines” series is well worth the read.

At my library, the hold time on the next e-books in the series was showing as not being available for 8 or more weeks! But they were available as hardcovers. It shows how popular e-books have become.

Off I went to my local branch, only half a mile away. When I returned I settled in my favorite chair, with a cup of coffee and the new book, looking forward to some time with my favorite detectives.

No, not enough light. Turn on the 3-way lamp. Still not enough. Nor at the chair by the window. I finally settled on my lamp with a magnifier, which is good, and it does work, but it’s frustrating and slows the reading.

The audio option for low vision reading

The next step, if my vision declines further may be audiobooks. I’m a visual learner and find if I can see as well as hear, I’m able to both enjoy and remember.

I asked my friend with 1% vision how she manages with audiobooks. She signed up with The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) to receive audiobooks by mail. When finished, they go into a post office box in the same package. These are played on a victor reader which she finds very easy to use.

Challenges of audiobooks

I’m not a fan of just listening to something, as my attention wanders. I’ve tried podcasts, but I find it almost impossible to concentrate.

My friend also found her mind wandered quite a bit as well when she first started listening to audiobooks, but the more she used them, the better it became. Her advice is to first find a calm environment with no distractions. To plan on starting in small brackets of time and remember that rewinding is possible.

Another suggestion to help with distraction was to listen to one chapter and replay it the next day before moving to the next. Even after all this time, she still occasionally has to rewind.

The future

For now, e-books are the best way to go for me, and I am so thankful they are available. I’ve started eccentric viewing practice as written about here. Hopefully, with some advanced training, it might become more natural. But I think audiobooks may be in my future.

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