Vision Impairment Glasses and Tools that Compensate for Low Vision
An aging population, higher rates of diabetes, and failure to get regular eye exams are contributing to a rise in low vision and blindness in Canada.
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) estimates half a million Canadians live with vision loss that significantly affects their daily lives.
Normal vision is the ability to see comfortably what is around us, near or far, with or without the help of glasses.
It’s known as “20/20” which means the eye can see an object at 20 feet as well as any eye with good vision.
20/60 vision means what a person with good vision can see at 60 feet, you can see at 20 feet.
Low vision or partial sight falls between 20/60 and 20/190.
Vision that is 20/200 or worse constitutes as legal blindness.
But a person with 20/20 vision can still be legally blind if their peripheral vision is less than 20 degrees.
The rates of low vision and blindness may be rising, but it doesn’t mean you, your family members, or friends have to give up activities that you love.
Vision impairment glasses and tools are available to provide support and help maintain independence.
These life-altering devices are the focus of our discussion.
Magnifiers for Close-Up and Detailed Vision
Handheld or mounted magnifiers are straightforward and affordable solutions for activities like reading, writing, sewing, or knitting.
They can rest flat on a page, and they’re customizable for features like larger handles and light.
Magnifiers are great if you’re reading for long periods of time at home.
But some can be bulky, and so they lack portability.
Magnifying Reading Glasses
For a more comfortable reading experience and a wider field of view, magnifying reading glasses help visually impaired people read the small print.
These vision impairment glasses are more portable than the magnifiers we mentioned earlier, and they leave both hands free.
A downside to using these high-powered reading glasses is that you have to position your eyes closer to your reading material.
It requires a little practice, but after guidance from a specialist, you’ll be on to your next great read in no time.
Telescopes for Your Glasses
Image by Drjaredlcooper via Wikimedia Commons
Another option for visually impaired people is reading telescopes.
These devices are mounted on to the lenses of eyeglasses.
Unlike magnifying reading glasses, it allows you to read material from a reasonable distance.
They’re available in a range of magnifications, and they can be used for an extended period.
But this extension of your glasses provides a smaller field of view.
They can also distort depth perception and affect balance so wearing them while moving about is not recommended.
Loupes are other magnifying devices that can help people with low vision.
Like the telescopes and magnifying reading glasses, they allow the wearer to be hands-free while conducting their activity.
They enable the wearer to keep their prescription glasses which is helpful if you have a strong case of nearsightedness or astigmatism.
Loupes are also easy to use and inexpensive.
But they can be heavy if you need large loupes for your eyeglasses.
People who use loupes may also find their field of view limited making a task like reading difficult.
The Future of Vision Impairment Glasses
While magnifiers and telescopes benefit many people now, the next generation of vision impairment glasses and tools involves wearable technology designed for people with low vision.
eSight Eyewear offers a headset that uses a high-resolution camera to capture what the user sees.
It projects the images to two LED screens in front of the user’s eyes.
eSight enhances the user’s vision by maximizing the effectiveness of their remaining eyesight.
The eSight headset is ideal for portability.
It also creates the best image possible by giving the user the ability to control zoom and contrast.
eSight helps people read, see faces of family and friends, and feel more of a connection with their environment.
This technology also allows people to work better in an office environment.
It lets users see presentations, read documents away from their usual low vision tools, and engage better with colleagues.
But these benefits don’t come cheap.
The latest version of these vision impairment glasses sells for $10,000.
That’s a hefty price tag especially since insurers don’t cover the cost because they’re considered an assistive technology.
Even if eSight’s technology is out of reach now, many other solutions can help people with low vision.
Besides to the vision impairment glasses and tools that we already mentioned, some devices and strategies can help with everyday tasks.
Audiobooks and e-books allow people to listen to books read aloud.
Devices like tablets let you increase the size of words and the contrast.
You can also create an ideal environment to help your vision perform at its best.
Increase the amount of light and reduce glare in your home.
Decorate your home with contrast in mind.
Use a dark coloured tablecloth with white dishes on your dining table.
Lay black poster paper on your desk to make your white documents stand out.
Vision loss is a challenge, but it’s one that you don’t need to face alone.
Consult your eye doctor and learn about the tools and strategies that make the most out of your remaining eyesight.