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From the Current Issue

Living With Low Vision
A few small changes can make life easier for someone with vision impairment.

Mild vision impairment has little effect on day-to-day activities, but moderate to severe damage can make it difficult for people to perform common household tasks. Ophthalmologists and low-vision counselors recommend these simple, practical strategies to help visually impaired patients maintain their independence.

Always leave doors completely open or completely closed. This reduces the risk of accidentally walking into the door edge.

Choose a tablecloth that contrasts with the color of your dishes; for example, a dark cloth under white dishes provides enhanced contrast. Similarly, use dark-colored cups or mugs for light liquids and vice versa. This will minimize spilling.

Tack down loose rugs, use nonslip mats beneath them, or use furniture to hold them down to prevent slipping and tripping.

Use a brightly colored sticker or tape a colorful piece of paper to all clear glass doors to help you determine whether the door is open or closed and prevent collisions.

Avoid buying or consider replacing glass-topped coffee or end tables; the edges are extremely difficult to see, making bumping injuries more likely.

Mark the important settings on the dials of the stove, washer, dryer, and other appliances using brightly colored tape.

Mark the outer edge of all indoor and outdoor stairs with a strip of paint or non-skid material in a color that contrasts with the rest of the step. The strip should extend about 2 inches from the edge—both horizontally and vertically—and should go across the full width of the step. This reduces the chances of tripping or falling on the stairs.

When loading knives into the dishwasher or drainboard, be sure to place them sharp-side down.

Examine unidentified objects with the hands before bringing them near the face for a closer view; this will prevent inadvertent poking of the eyes.

Have someone help you arrange clothing if you have color-vision problems. Separate items according to color and then use labeled dividers to identify them.


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The vision White Paper from The Johns Hopkins White Papers series is an annual, in-depth report written by Hopkins physicians.



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