According to the National Safety Council, falls are one of the top causes of preventable deaths in people of all ages. The inherent risk of falling or suffering another preventable injury goes up significantly for people with low vision.
Adjusting to life with lower visual acuity can be difficult and upsetting. Fortunately, there are many resources available to those with low vision and their families. If you or someone you love is adjusting to life with low vision, here are some simple tricks to help prevent injuries at home and on the go.
Low lighting is incredibly dangerous in low vision homes. Make sure there is adequate lighting in each room. It is advisable to use the highest safe wattage in every light. Installing dimmer switches can help avoid any eye strain from turning bright lights on and off.
Don’t forget to make sure outdoor areas like porches and walkways are also properly lit. Equipping outdoor lights with sensors so lights turn on automatically just before dark can be incredibly helpful.
Nightlights in bathrooms, hallways, and bedrooms are also a good idea to aid in night navigation.
General household tips
There are a lot of everyday tasks that can become dangerous if vision is compromised. Consider the following tips to prevent injuries.
- Use a long-handled brush to clean dishes, especially knives.
- Pre-measure water amounts before boiling to reduce the chance of “overpouring” a cup.
- Keep dish handles pointed away from the counter and stovetop edges.
- Choose appliances with automatic shutoffs.
- Take the time to carefully orient yourself to any new place you stay, whether it be a hotel or the guest room at a friend’s house.
Low vision can be mitigated with highly contrasting colors. High contrast makes objects easier to see, lowering the chance of missteps or injury. You can incorporate this principle throughout each room.
Most bathrooms have light color schemes such as white walls or pale floors. Choose dark towels, rugs, and other accessories to improve contrast.
Make sure your kitchen towels, utensils, and rugs stand out from the floors and counters. Particularly dangerous objects like knives should have brightly colored handles.
Make sure furniture stands out starkly from the walls and floor. Avoid overly complex designs that can be confusing on the eye.
Make sure furniture is noticeably different from carpeting and walls to minimize the likelihood of bumping into things. When possible, try to avoid carpets or blankets with patterns. Solid colors are safer for homes with low vision occupants.
Getting rid of excess clutter in your home can be good for a lot of reasons. It can ease stress and improve your general mood, but it can also be great for safety.
A cluttered home can be a tripping hazard even for those with unhindered vision. In homes where occupants have low vision, having too many extra items lying around can be really dangerous. Take some time to go through the house and make sure nothing is leaning against the wall or stacked near doorways, corners or stairs. Kitchen and bathroom counters should also be kept as clear as possible.
Keep prescription eyeglasses in each room
The importance of backup eyeglasses cannot be understated. Keep an extra pair of prescription eyeglasses in every room where they may be necessary. Kitchens, bathrooms and the living room are particularly important. Try to set the glasses in the same place every time so you get used to their placement. The less time spent rummaging around for glasses, the fewer chances there are for falls or injuries.
If you’re worried about all these extra glasses costing too much money, you may be surprised. Sites like 39DollarGlasses.com offer great deals on the same high-quality prescription eyeglasses you get from the doctor.
For those with low vision, typical medication labels can be difficult to read. To avoid any accidental overdoses or improper medication mixing, consider using extra markers for medication bottles. These can take the form of larger font labels or even tactile labels. Brightly colored labels are another helpful option.
Another option is to use pre-filled daily medication containers. These can be filled out at home or even at the pharmacy for extra security.
Don’t forget to extend these same measures to non-prescription medication, as well. Over-the-counter painkillers, cold medicine, and sleep aids should also be carefully labeled to avoid any confusion or mistakes. Be sure to bring these brightly labeled over-the-counter medicines along on trips and vacations, as well, so you’re never left trying to read medication bottles from the bathroom cabinets of friends or relatives.
Annual eye exams
It’s important to keep up with yearly eye exams. An up-to-date prescription will ensure you have the best vision possible. Your eye doctor will also be able to address any health concerns that may be contributing to vision loss. Most conditions, even serious ones like macular degeneration can be mitigated if treatment begins early.