Assistive Devices for Low-Vision

Businessman with magnifying glass reading small printEven with the best medical care and corrective lenses, some still need a little extra vision help to complete everyday activities or pursue favorite hobbies. If you are finding it difficult to engage in activities you once enjoyed or having trouble with reading or using the computer, it might be time to consider employing some extra help to make everyday life a bit easier and get back to doing things you used to enjoy before vision difficulties arose. 

First, it’s best to work closely with your eye doctor or consult a low-vision specialist who can recommend or prescribe devices that can help you improve upon the functional vision that you do have. To see the great number of products that exist to help with visual impairment of all types, The American Foundation for the Blind maintains an extensive database of assistive devices. Many of these products have been critically evaluated to help you uncover what products might best suit your needs. In this database, you’ll find information about each product as well as important details such as manufacturer/distributor, list price, and where it can be purchased. Some of the device categories included are:

  • Magnifiers
  • Talking Devices
  • CCTV’s
  • Personal Care
  • Screen Readers
  • Household Lighting

It’s important to remember that there are a number of non-optical devices that can help you as well, such as large print books, clocks, and remote controls. Take advantage of these aids whenever possible to make your typical day that much easier. Our friends at Lighthouse International have a few suggestions for managing low-vision effectively and their Lighthouse Store provides plenty of products to help improve functional sight.

If your visual health affects your life to the extent that you are concerned about maintaining your independence, the Low Vision Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people with low-vision maintain their independence. Located in Bethesda, Maryland, this group provides information services as well as a home-like demonstration area with a variety of low vision aids and ideas. Their services are offered free of charge.

Financial concerns can be a stumbling block to obtaining assistive devices, which can sometimes be quite costly. The Association of Blind Citizens operates the Assistive Technology Fund (ATF), which provides funds to cover 50% of the retail price of adaptive devices or software. The organization believes that providing blind and visually impaired individuals with access to technology products will significantly impact employment opportunities, level of independence, and overall quality of life.