The key is to look at what sight you have left and maximise what you can do with it, as I found when I recently visited a national charity that’s based here in Doncaster.
The Partially Sighted Society at 1 Bennetthorpe, near the town centre, provides information, advice, training, magnifiers and electronic low-vision aids and clear print material for anybody with a visual impairment to help them make best use of their remaining sight.
The Society started 40 years ago and moved into its current specially designed premises in 2012, which include a fully-equipped sight centre where a low-vision service is provided.
Low vision is when your sight can’t necessarily be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. It doesn’t just develop because of old-age, your vision can get worse as a result of other factors like cataracts, age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.
Executive Director Anita Plant gave me a tour of the premises and made the point that many things considered essential by people with normal sight are not designed for people who have a visual impairment. They have sourced a wide range of products to help people, from clocks to playing cards, plus magnifiers, telephones, heavily lined notepaper and large print calendars and diaries.
I met the Society’s knit and natter group, which is run by a lady who is living with sight loss. It meets on the second Wednesday of the month from 2pm – 4pm and aims to encourage those who enjoy crafts and knitting to join in using the sight assisting technology the Society has available.
I also learned many useful tips about living with low-vision, which I will be able to pass on to my patients, including:
* use large lamps shades which allow light out at both the top and bottom. This allows more light to be reflected around the room.
* place objects you are wanting to see on a contrasting colour surface, such as a white plate on a black mat and dark food on light coloured plates.
* have paper with thick black lines next to the phone or wherever you need to take a message or write a note.
* mark the edges of steps with contrasting colour paint or tape.
* decorate your room in light colours, it reflects more light into the room. Use matt finishes and contrasting colours around windows, door frames and skirtings.
* use contrasting non-slip mats in bathrooms and on shiny floors.
The Partially Sighted Society is a valuable source of knowledge on our doorstep. Drop-in or call for free information and advice about living or working with impaired vision. They also provide a free enhanced low-vision assessment service to advise on the latest, most appropriate magnifiers and other aids. Visit www.partsight.org.uk or ring 01302 965195.