A woman looks into a vanity mirror with bright lights all around her.

Preparing for Life With Geographic Atrophy

I was diagnosed with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) 9 years ago. My mom and sister both had wet macular degeneration. I figured that might well be in the cards for me. Advancing to geographic atrophy (GA) was not something I thought would happen.

I was diagnosed in July 2023 with mild to moderate GA in both eyes. Given the progressive nature of GA, I am making changes now to make life with low vision easier.

Finding helpful GA resources

MacularDegeneration.net is a great source of information that I turn to often. Stories written by people living with macular degeneration are particularly helpful. The forums section is a safe place to ask questions on any topic.

I recently found another great resource: Hadley, a non-profit, provides free services for the blind and those with low vision. It features simple workshop videos on a wide range of topics. Monthly Zoom calls cover everything from cooking, crafting, travel, work, and much more for the blind and people with low vision.1

Organizing my home

Eventually, low vision as a result of geographic atrophy will require changes throughout my home. I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, so I am starting there.

I have already touched on smart appliances, but low-tech options are important. I am ordering bump dots to mark the settings I use most often on my oven and microwave. I can no longer read the measurements on my measuring cups and spoons; I found an inexpensive set on Amazon with large print in a contrasting color from the cups and spoons.

Organizing my pantry is mostly complete. Since it has no source of lighting, I need to add battery-operated lights so I can locate items more easily.

Improving lighting in the kitchen and bathroom

Lighting, or lack thereof, is a big problem for me already.

Recently I replaced my vanity bulbs with LED bulbs to make it easier to fix my hair or apply makeup. I do not want to leave the house looking like a clown.

I have motion sensor nightlights that light my way to the kitchen or bathroom at night. I am considering changing to smart bulbs. I could control them with my Alexa device.

Utilizing devices and apps

I have magnifiers in every room. I recently purchased a magnifier with LED lights that works great. I use the magnifier app on my iPhone to read the TV menu. It works and is less expensive than the special TV glasses. I may need to purchase the TV glasses if my vision worsens.

A few months ago I ordered a new air fryer. I couldn’t read the display to operate it. Since it was Wi-Fi enabled, I can use my Alexa device to operate it with voice commands. The next smart appliance will be a microwave. Fortunately, all appliances are available with Wi-Fi capability.

As mentioned previously, my magnifier app gets lots of use. I have a blind acquaintance that uses an app to read food labels for her. Another app will identify the color of an article of clothing. While I don’t need them yet, it’s good to know they are available.

Adjusting to life with geographic atrophy

This article covers just a few changes I am making now. As my vision declines, I know many more adjustments will be necessary.

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