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Helen Reynolds
  How To Make Life Easier

As anyone living with Stargardts and other degenerative eye conditions knows, adjusting to a world in which your sight is increasingly less reliable is not easy. While such people have arguably been blessed with the sense of vision for a while – which those who are born blind have never experienced – this may in fact make the loss of sight harder to adjust to. Those who have been born visually impaired, or who have been so since babies are well accustomed to navigating the world with less aid from their eyesight, and some even state that there are positive advantages to their conditions [1]. Those whose eyesight degenerates, however, are not only aware of that which they're increasingly missing, but are also used to being able to rely on their eyes in order to get through life, and now must essentially ‘re-learn' the world. However, it's not as bad as it seems. For a start, there are plenty of treatments in the pipeline [2] which could really help with the condition in the near future. In the meantime, however, there are various things you can do to make life with visual impairment easier.

Be Prepared

It would be disingenuous to pretend that a loss of vision isn't going to lead to some major life changes for you. One of the best ways to adapt to these changes is to be prepared in advance for what may befall. For a start, while you're learning your way around this new world, you're unfortunately likely to be more vulnerable to things like trips, falls, and bumps. Being adequately prepared for this through things like wearing sensible shoes to make you generally more stable on your feet, taking your time when navigating things like stairs, and getting your health insurance sorted [3] and in line with your condition in the unlikely event of serious accidents can make a huge difference. While it may be frustrating to have to slow yourself down and take your time, you'll find that your brain adapts surprisingly quickly [4] to the new state of affairs – you just have to give it a chance by preparing it and teaching it with care in the early days.

Adapt Your Environment

This may seem obvious, but adapting your home and changeable environments to make life easier for yourself will reap dividends. Use lighting effectively, by positioning lights to highlight things you need to see clearly, and to provide you with a lit ‘path' through your home. Renovate, remove, or replace potential hazards like frayed carpets and uneven flooring. You can also use colors to highlight certain things – for example, dark and light contrasts will make things like light switches, door handles, thermostats and so forth more obvious. In general, high contrast makes things easier for the eye to pick out [5], while subtler color schemes may get lost in the blur. Buy household items and decorate your home accordingly. If you're having trouble with tripping on stairs and carpet edges, try marking around their outlines with tape in a color which you find easy to perceive – this may also be an idea with bathtubs and sinks, in which a line of tape at an ideal ‘high water mark' could prevent you from overfilling and flooding your house!

Get Support

Some of the major challenges faced by those with degenerating eyesight are psychological. In general, the more positive your attitude, the more likely you are to be able to thrive in the new world you'll find yourself entering. A very good way of improving your mental state and of ensuring that you don't fall prey to the doldrums is to surround yourself with supportive people. There are support groups out there which have helped a great many people, but if that's not your thing, make sure to get in plenty of quality time with your friends and family. Human interaction and support is essential for psychological health [6], and never more so than when someone is entering a new and perhaps scary phase of life. One can get through anything with the encouragement, faith, and love of other people!


[1] Jon Blistein,Stevie Wonder Counts Down Advantages Of Being Blind On ‘Letterman'â€, Rolling Stone, Mar 2015

[2] Liz Meszaros,Stargardt's disease: New strategies, new therapiesâ€, Opthalmology Times, Aug 2014

[3] QZ,Health Insurance

[4] University of California,Blindness causes structural brain changes, implying brain can re-organiz itself to adapt, Science Daily, Nov 2009

[5] WebAIM,Visual Disabilities

[6] HEBF,The Importance Of Social Interaction To Human Health, Sept 2012



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