How Can I Retain Independence with Vision Loss?

Retain Independence with Vision Loss

Vision plays a critical role in daily life. It’s involved in walking, writing, reading, working, making food, and washing yourself. If you experience vision loss, it becomes more difficult to perform these activities successfully. You will need to find ways to compensate for your difficulty seeing so that you can continue to live independently as you age in place.

While you learn to be independent with vision impairment, consider using medical alert technology for seniors. With these gadgets for seniors, you can instantly alert a certified emergency response agent whenever and wherever you have a problem. Whether you fall, need medical assistance, or require the fire department or police, you can press your button for immediate help.

The in-the-home medical alarm button is an affordable option that can accommodate seniors who mainly remain in their homes, while a mobile emergency alert system for seniors is best for seniors who like to be active outside the home. You can also get a fall alarm button that includes a built-in sensor that automatically contacts an emergency response agent when it registers a fall or a medical alert wrist watch that can tell you the time, track your steps, and report the weather. The time on the watch is large and easy to read for those with sight loss.

Vision Changes with Age

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Approximately 12 million people 40 years old and over in the United States have vision impairment, including 1 million who are blind, 3 million who have vision impairment after correction, and 8 million who have vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive errors.” (1) Vision loss is a common side effect of age. As you age, the lenses in your eyes become less flexible. This can lead to difficulty seeing things clearly. However, there are also multiple eye diseases that can impair your vison. These include:

  • Refractive Errors – Causes difficulty seeing things up close or far away.
  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration – Causes vision loss in the center field of vision.
  • Cataracts – Causes blurry vision.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy – Can cause floaters, blurriness, dark areas in vision, difficulty seeing color, or even blindness.
  • Glaucoma – Can cause patchy blind spots, blurriness, vision loss, eye pain, headaches, and tunnel vision.
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye) – Can cause wandering eyes, poor depth perception, eyes not working together, and reduced vision.
  • Strabismus – Causes eyes to not look in the same direction.
  • Ocular Rosacea – Can affect the cornea and lead to red eyes, itchy eyes, watery eyes, or vision loss.
  • Infectious Eye Diseases – Can cause eye pain, blurry vision, light sensitivity, floaters, or vision loss.

Conditions that Contribute to Vision Loss

There are also multiple health conditions that can contribute to vision impairment:

  • Diabetes – Can cause swelling in the macula and lead to partial vision loss or blindness.
  • High Blood Pressure – Can damage blood vessels and retina and lead to bleeding, blurred vision, or blindness.
  • Autoimmune Diseases – Effects depend on specific disease, but can lead to blurred vision, partial vision loss or blindness.
  • Liver Disease – Can cause small fatty collections on eyelids, itchy eyes, dry eyes, or vision loss.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies – A deficiency in vitamin B12 can cause damage to the optic nerve and cause blurred vision.
  • Sickle Cell Disease – When sickle cells cause blockages in blood vessels of the retina, it can lead to poor vision.

If you have any of these diseases or conditions, be sure to work with your doctor to manage them, as doing so can help you avoid or prevent vision impairment.

Fall Prevention and Aging In Place House Plans

“Each year, one in four Americans 65 and older experiences a fall, the leading cause of injury among older adults, and impaired vision more than doubles this risk,” states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2) There are multiple home fall prevention strategies that you can use to make your environment safer in which to live:

Use Contrasting Colors Around the Home

Use contrasting colors around your home to make areas and objects stand out from one another. You can use paint, tape, or contact paper. Some areas you may want to make stand out include:

  • Edges of stairs
  • Edges of counters or tables
  • Edge of bathtub or shower
  • The toilet
  • Door handles and knobs
  • Railings


Lighting can make a significant difference in your ability to navigate your home successfully. Be sure to add lighting to any dark areas of your home including corners, hallways, closets, and outside. Try to place lamps on your bedside table and in other strategic places so that you can avoid crossing the room in the dark. Be sure to open curtains during the day to let in as much natural light as possible.

Remove Tripping Hazards

Get rid of any hazards around your home that could lead to a fall. This includes throw rugs, damaged flooring, clutter, and cords/wires. The more open and clear your floors are, the better you can navigate your home without the risk of falling.

If you are concerned about falling, consider an in-home emergency alarm for seniors. If you fall, you can press the button to be instantly connected with an emergency response agent. They will stay on the line with you until someone arrives to physically help you, so you will never face an emergency alone.

Install Railings and Grab Bars

If your vision is compromised, it is helpful to have railings and grab bars that you can use to catch yourself and prevent falls. Some areas you will want to install these senior safety features include near stairs, in the bathroom, and in hallways.

Choose Furniture with Texture

Textured furniture can help seniors with vision impairment differentiate between different pieces of furniture.

Use a Cane or Guide

Whether you are in your home or going out, a cane can help you find obstacles in your surroundings and help you stay steady on your feet. A guide dog or person can also help guide you through unfamiliar places.

Help for Performing Daily Tasks

Performing daily tasks can be tricky when you are visually impaired, however, there are some strategies you can use to make things a bit easier.

Move With Caution

When you are moving around your home, move at a slower pace. This will help you improve your accuracy and keep your balance to avoid falling. You will want to be especially careful in areas such as the bathroom and kitchen as they are typically more cluttered and slippery.

If you want extra peace of mind, a fall prevention alarm for seniors can provide you with extra security. When you have an Alert1 fall detection device, you have 24/7/365 access to an emergency response agent who is highly trained and ready to assist. When you press your personal alarm button, an agent will come on the line, help keep you calm, and guide you through your emergency. They will listen to your needs and follow protocols to get you the help required.

Use Assistive Tools

There are a variety of tools that can improve visually impaired seniors’ ability to perform daily tasks on their own. Some of these include:

  • Screen Readers – Can read words on a computer screen to you.
  • Magnifiers – Basic magnifiers can enlarge print and pictures for you to see items better. Electronic magnifiers can help you see computer, tablet, and phone screens. Magnifying mirrors can help you see features on your face better.
  • Special Glasses – Electronic eyeglasses can help you differentiate different items and navigate your environment. It can capture the scene that you are looking at and use magnifiers and virtual reality technology to enhance it. Then you can see details more clearly.
  • Devices with Large Buttons – Choose daily items such as calculators, phones, and remote controls with large buttons. This will help with daily tasks such as bills, making phone calls, and navigating the television.
  • Large-Print Items – Large print books, calendars, and playing cards can help you learn important information more easily and entertain yourself.
  • Medical Alert Devices – Alert1 medical alert devices for seniors provide protection by giving seniors access to emergency response agents who can help through a variety of emergencies any time they need it.


Like riding a bicycle, getting used to a new way of living and doing things may take some time. You may be a bit slow at first when using new assistive tools for seniors. Yet, with some practice, you will get better at using them. Then you can perform daily tasks at a quicker pace and with more accuracy.

Set Up Accessibility Features on Your Technology

If you use technology to perform daily tasks such as socializing, paying bills, setting up doctors’ appointments, or entertaining yourself, be sure to set up the accessibility features on your computer, phone, or tablet. You can make fonts larger, have your phone read messages to you, or use a braille display to translate information on the screen.

Get a Driver

When you have a doctor’s appointment, grocery shopping to do, or other important errands, you will likely need someone to drive you. Be sure to ask family, friends, or neighbors well in advance if you need a ride. If they can’t take you, consider hiring a personal driver or using apps like Uber or Lyft. Depending on where you live, you may also be able to find free rides from nonprofit groups, religious organizations, or local government offices on aging.

Consider Hiring a Professional Caregiver for Seniors Aging in Place

If visual impairment has significantly impacted your ability to take care of yourself, consider hiring a professional caregiver. These trained professionals can help you with a variety of tasks such as cooking, cleaning, eating, washing, transportation, companionship, and more.

Aging in Place with Vision Impairment

Learning to live with vision impairment can be frustrating at first, but with practice and the right tools, you can continue to live as independently as possible. Be sure to visit your eye doctor regularly for check-ups and to stay up to date on treatments.



1 Chader, Gerald J. Taylor, Allen. Dec. 2013. Ocular Research Symposia. ARVO Journals. Preface: The Aging Eye: Normal Changes, Age-Related Diseases, and Sight-Saving Approaches.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff. n.d. Vision Health Initiative. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vision Impairment and Older Adult Falls.

3 National Federations of the Blind staff. March. 2009. A Report to the Nation by the National Federation of the Blind. The Braille Literacy Crisis in America: Facing the Truth, Reversing the Trend, Empowering the Blind.