Living with macular degeneration can pose numerous challenges, especially when it comes to performing tasks that require good vision, such as reading. However, with the right techniques, tools, and patience, individuals with this eye condition can still enjoy reading.
This article delves into various ways those living with macular degeneration can make reading easier and more accessible.
Understanding macular degeneration
Macular degeneration is an age-related eye condition where the macula – the small central part of the retina responsible for sharp and central vision – gets damaged. As a result, central vision becomes blurry or distorted, while peripheral vision remains clear. This can significantly impact tasks that require fine visual detail, like reading, sewing, or recognizing faces.
Tips for reading with macular degeneration
1. Optimize lighting
Proper lighting can make a huge difference. Consider using bright, white LED lights directed onto the reading material. Task lighting or adjustable desk lamps can help focus the light where it’s most needed.
2. Embrace large print
Seek out large print books and magazines. Many publications now offer larger font sizes specifically for those with vision impairments.
3. Utilize contrast
High contrast, such as black text on a white background or white text on a black background, can be easier to see. Ensure that the reading material has a good contrast or use coloured overlays to enhance contrast.
4. Use magnifying tools
There’s a wide range of magnifying devices available, from handheld magnifiers to digital devices that can enlarge and even change the contrast of the text.
5. Explore electronic readers
Devices such as tablets or e-readers allow users to adjust font size, spacing, and contrast to suit their visual needs.
6. Consider audiobooks
For those days when reading visually becomes too strenuous, audiobooks are a fantastic alternative. They can be purchased or borrowed from local libraries.
Vision aids for macular degeneration
In addition to the above strategies, various vision aids are designed to support people with macular degeneration:
1. CCTVs or video magnifiers
These electronic devices use a camera to project a magnified image onto a screen. They can be adjusted to display text at various magnifications and contrasts.
2. Screen reading software
These are programs installed on computers that convert text into speech, enabling users to listen rather than read.
3. Optical magnifiers
These are available in various designs, including stand magnifiers, hand-held magnifiers, and spectacle-mounted magnifiers. The type that’s best for you will depend on your individual needs and the tasks you wish to perform.
4. Telescopic glasses
These are specially designed glasses that can help with tasks such as watching TV or recognising faces. They might not be ideal for reading but can be useful for other activities.
Nutritional support: Eyesight Plus AREDS 2 vitamins
This product is formulated based on the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) findings, which suggest that certain vitamins and minerals can reduce the progression of macular degeneration in some people. The vitamins include vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and copper. Additionally, Eyesight Plus incorporates lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that are believed to support the health of the macula.
Before starting any eye supplement, it’s essential to consult with an ophthalmologist or a healthcare professional to ensure it’s appropriate for your individual needs.
Local support and resources
Several organizations offer support, resources, and tools to those living with macular degeneration:
- Macular Society: This UK-based charity provides information, support, and advice to people affected by macular conditions.
- Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB): A comprehensive source for information, support, and resources, including reading services and products tailored to those with visual impairments.
- Local low-vision clinics: Many regions have low-vision clinics that offer assessments, advice, and access to visual aids.
Adapting to a new normal with macular degeneration
Living with macular degeneration is not just about the physical challenges of deteriorating vision, but it’s also about the emotional and psychological journey that comes with it. Adapting to this ‘new normal’ requires patience, understanding, and the right resources to help one navigate the changes.
Emotional and psychological wellbeing
- Acceptance: Like with any significant change or challenge in life, acceptance is the first step. Recognising and acknowledging the condition without being overly critical of oneself can make the adaptation process smoother. Remember, it’s okay to grieve the loss of clearer vision.
- Seek support: Connecting with others who have the same condition can be therapeutic. Support groups, both offline and online, can provide a platform to share experiences, and coping techniques, and simply to be understood.
- Stay informed: Knowledge is empowering. Use Pure Optical to stay updated about the latest research, treatments, and aids can give a sense of control over the condition.
Further strategies for enhanced reading
- Customized reading materials: Publishers are increasingly recognising the demand for materials tailored to those with visual impairments. Customized subscriptions or services that cater to specific needs can be explored.
- Learning Braille: For those with advanced macular degeneration, learning Braille could be an alternative way to continue reading.
- Voice-activated assistants: Modern technology has gifted us with voice-activated assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri. These can be immensely helpful, not just for reading aloud but also for daily tasks and reminders.
Incorporating lifestyle changes
- Healthy lifestyle: While products like Eyesight Plus AREDS 2 Vitamins for Eyes offer nutritional support, a balanced diet rich in green leafy vegetables, fish, and fruits can further support eye health. Regular exercise and avoiding smoking can also be beneficial.
- Adapting the living space: Consider making adjustments at home to aid vision. This might include using high-contrast colors for decor, ensuring walkways are clear of obstacles, and incorporating tactile markers for commonly used items.
- Stay active and involved: Keeping the mind active and engaged can have positive effects on overall well-being. This might mean taking up new hobbies, attending workshops, or simply staying socially active.
Summing it up
Macular degeneration, while challenging, is not an end to enjoying life’s simple pleasures like reading. It merely requires adjustments, a positive attitude, and the right resources. The UK offers a plethora of resources, tools, and support for those with visual impairments. With persistence, adaptability, and support, reading can remain a cherished activity for those with macular degeneration.