The Eye Opener 2024 Update

The Eye Opener 2024 Update


The key change in the last few years has been the extraordinary developments in using smartphones.

These comments all relate to Android systems as used on the Google PIXL. Similar features are available on Iphones.


The most important is “Select to speak” which reads the text to you, whether email, diary, newspaper, texts, photos (even of letters and product labels. Using Bluetooth to link to your hearing aids is even better.

Almost as important is “Triple Tap” the screen to magnify the text or image on the screen.

From that point on, just do whatever is best for you and develop your capabilities at a rate you choose.



How do adults cope with visual impairment and sight loss?

This booklet is compiled with the  thoughts and experiences of the  Shoreham support group of the Macular Society for the benefit of those  who are new to the group or those about  to start the journey of coping with  central vision loss. It is useful reading for  carers and families.

HOPE . . . some random thoughts 

  1. 1. Hope is part of the lifeblood that keeps  society going. We all hope tomorrow is going to  be better than today. 
  2. 2. How can visually impaired people strengthen  their hope? What can we do for ourselves?  Answer Stay in touch about the visual sciences – there may be a breakthrough for you. Research is  going on throughout the world. 
  3. 3. Can you ever reach a position with your vision  loss so that you could discard your white cane if  necessary ? 
  4. 4. You may lose your central vision, but you can  build on your peripheral vision and use this part  of the retina. 
  5. 5. All sorts of things change as your memory  improves to compensate for sight loss. 
  6. 6. You develop new strategies, for example is a  document that you sign valid if you can’t read it?  Get a trusted person to read it for you first. 

 Coping with blindness and vision loss

The key to successful vision rehabilitation is to  develop and sustain a positive mental attitude. 

Take any opportunity to learn from the hearts,  minds and experiences of other people and  discover what has helped or hindered them in  making a positive adjustment to loss of sight. 

Learn about emotional reactions and the  factors that lead to the necessary change in  thinking which many people must wrestle with,  because the loss of their sight affects their  everyday lives. 

In this way strengthen and enrich your own  efforts to increase individual independence. 

Remember the mantra – 

Think what you CAN do,  

not what you cannot do!

Emotional Reactions

Shock and disbelief 

After first visiting the Eye Clinic and being told  of the condition this emotion can turn to anger,  as realisation of the change of lifestyle or work  arrangements which will be inevitable. ‘What a  nuisance’ is a milder expression of this anger.  On the other hand fear is an emotion which can  be felt. Fear of losing a precious sense – Sight.  


This emotion comes and goes. It is not helped  by the thoughtlessness of others around you. For  instance, people not thinking and leaving  obstacles in your way which you may crash into. 


This can be described as a negative emotion. It  may arise from a sense of frustration. Relax.  Make positive thoughts. You can do it ! 


Join a support group if this emotion arises. A  shared experience with others is an  enlightenment. If this is not possible ask for  help via the Macular Society Helpline from a  “telephone be-friender.”  

Accept the loss  

Anger and frustration may arise if you are  someone who needs to be in control and now you  are not. Can you accept the loss ? The disease  affects your central vision and will not go away,  so can you improve on what sight you still have ?  Try to work on your vision looking to the side –  how much can you manage to see at the  periphery ? 


If you have a vascular (wet) type macular  disease then continual visits to the clinic for  injections can lead to this emotion. Try to work  at ignoring this. Your sight may improving. Plan  ahead for the next day. 

Personal coping strategies 

Accepting the loss. 

Loss of central vision may not happen straight  away. You may be told you won’t go blind. You  may be philosophical about it, especially if you  are an older person. If you are younger then you  may have a different mind set. Get a second  opinion if you need to. 

Learning to live with it.  

Recognise there is a loss. Try to carry on as  though it hasn’t happened until you cannot  manage so well. Plan ahead for changes which  you can expect to happen to your vision. 

Refusing to dwell on it. 

Each of us has different ways of dealing with the  situation. Our feelings are at play. Look around  you and think what you can do to deal with the  loss. Listen to others and don’t rely on pity. 

Keep a positive attitude.  

Keep asking the question “How can I do that?

Take one day at a time.  

Get a routine in your day. Keep a calendar up to  date for forthcoming events. Write things down  as an aide-memoire. 

Turn to technology.  

There is a lot of equipment out there to help  you. There are ‘tech’ classes to teach you.  Contact the support group. 

Use humour.  

If your personality can stretch to it, make light of  things. If not, try not to become depressed.  

Do tasks differently. 

Can your family help ? If that is not possible then  use your money for yourself to buy help in the  home and garden. For example de-clutter the  home. Move things round to make it easier. Do  you need all those items that gather dust ?  

Accept assistance.  

Family and friends may want to help. Accept  the offer. You won’t necessarily lose your  independence.  

Do ask for help in the supermarket or if you  are at the bus stop or even crossing the road.  Get used to getting it wrong – for example  putting your hand out for the bus to stop and it  turns out to be a coach or a lorry ! 

Stay informed of the eye disease.  

If you go to a support group take in all the  information you can. Join in the discussiocs.  Talk about your experience … everyone will  listen. 

How can I do it?

Can you manage in the property you live in ?  Is now the time to move into something smaller? Can you cope if you live on more than one  floor ? Can you manage stairs ? Is your loss of  central vision disorientating? Maybe you have  vision in the lower visual fields so that you can  look down and check below as you walk.  Use the back of the stair tread as your guide  when descending. Maybe mark the top and  bottom stair tread with a marker on the  bannister which you can feel. 

If you live on one floor can you move things to  suit you better? Tell people you live with that  everything has its place and return it there  when they have used it. Can you move trip  hazards (rugs, nests of tables, power leads) to  have a clearer, safer area ? 

If you are sight impaired ask for a  Rehabilitation Officer for the Visually Impaired  (ROVI) to visit you at home to help you with  suggestions for managing in the home. If not,  get a family member or friend to come with you  to the 4 Sight Resource Centre to get some  ideas. 

Problems may arise when your family ask you to  move near to them. 

You would have to learn a new street scene.  There is good technology available so get  someone to help you on a home computer or  I-pad to check the street scene on a Google  Earth Map and help you learn what your new  surroundings look like.

Think before leaving the local area by yourself  How confident are you ? Is your memory still  good and are you still street-wise? You will have  to learn the road crossing points and the bus  stops.  

  Assess the risk of having falls 

When walking on a footpath, do you have foot  wear that is comfortable and you can “feel” your  way along. Try and gain knowledge of where the  dangerous kerbs and crossings are in the area  and avoid them. Make a mental note of local  obstacles like overhanging foliage from gardens  or A-boards in the High Street. Avoid going out  when the weather is really bad, unless  accompanied or taken by car. Look out for  umbrellas! Should you consider wearing bright  clothing ?  

Coping with orientation and balance 

Take one day at a time. Think about what you can do,  not what you can’t do.  

When out walking, find out where the slopes and  kerbs are. Where possible take the extra strides  to walk up to and cross at a Pelican crossing. 

Check which crossings have refuges in the  middle. Use a white cane (folded or unfolded to  cross). Take time out to remember the street  scene from what vision you have got. If you are  not confident to cross on a busy crossing, get  someone to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask. 

If your balance is not good, walk with either a  stick, twin poles or shopper trolley.  

Use your peripheral vision to look down at the  path. Try not to rush along, stop and check  around now and again, especially if you have  been a “quick” person before. 

Coping with bright sunlight 

Living here on the south coast the light is  brighter because the sun reflects from the sea  and into the town. 

Get a good pair of sunglasses. Don’t buy the  first pair, try out different tints and buy from a  place where you can try them on and look out of  the window into the street.  

Different people prefer different tints. However  as a general rule a reddish-brown tint suits AMD  sufferers. A grey-green tint (usually darker) is a  neutral density tint and a good all rounder.  A sodium-yellow tint is ok for cloudy days and  helps with getting a good contrast and makes  things stand out better. The choice is yours.  

Have a look in the 4 Sight Vision Support  Resource Centre for a wrap round sunshield with  a choice of different tints. Try them out in the  sunshine before buying them.

Lighting Needs (‘Eyes run on light ! ’ ) 

Learn to use lighting more effectively. Increase  the number of electrical sockets around the  home for plugging in equipment. 

Have task lighting in work areas. Consider  putting the “task” closer to the light. You could  try using a modern ‘head-band’ torch for some  tasks. 

Use LED light or day-light bulbs where possible. 

Have good lighting in the kitchen. Try painting  woodwork, ceiling and walls a lighter colour to  reflect the light more. Have a lighter coloured  work-top.  

Get a strip light fitted in the garage and even in  the greenhouse.  

Buy magnifiers with a light included for print and  other small tasks. Learn to use them correctly – important !! Have good lighting where you sit to  try and read. Use a small torch for extra direct  lighting in dark places around the home. 

Travelling abilities and needs

When travelling on a train take your folded  white cane with you. If it is crowded ask for the  seat reserved for disabled people. 

At the ticket barrier use the gate by the barrier  attendant.  

On a coach trip orholiday, hold your folded  white cane when getting on and off the coach,  to help avoid any pushing and shoving. 

When phoning for a taxi ask for one with a low  roof as some modern taxis are higher and need a  ‘step up’ to get inside (not easy to see). 

If staying at a hotel count the number of doors  to the fire exit. Check out the stairway and the  lift. 

If you travel by bus, obtain a free disabled  concessionary bus pass allowing travel at any  time. Requests are made to the West Sussex Bus  Pass Information line. 

At the airport ask for assistance to help you  through the check-in system and take you to the  aircraft – your companion will go with you.  Make your luggage very visible on the baggage  reclaim. 

Travel with a companion when using a moving  pavement. 

 Use of Assistive Devices in Daily Living 

A popular assistive device helping visual  impairment is the Apple I-pad. It is very  versatile for use as a reading device or  magnifier, a useful communicator of emails and  internet sites and it can take digital photographs. 

Smartphones can do all the things an I-pad can  do and also be used as a telephone. They are  smaller than an I-pad (modern smartphone  screens can be 6 inches in diameter and very  bright), however their versatility makes up for  this. 

Using Chromecast technology the information  from the screen is cast onto a digital television  screen and enlarged.

 They can also be  programmed to convert speech to text or vice versa, to take operating instructions. 

AI, Artificial Intelligence devices such as Amazon,  Echo or Google Home Mini are fixed devices  programmed via home wi-fi to take spoken  instructions and carry out tasks on the  internet. They can be directed to do simple  tasks in a home, which is modified to take  instructions such as turning on and off  equipment and lighting or adjusting heating.  

There are also many types of desk-top devices  with a keyboard linked to a computer using  sophisticated software to assist the visually  impaired.  

Throughout the year there is an opportunity to  attend Awareness Days or Exhibitions where  these are demonstrated. 

Individuals should be aware of their needs  before deciding what to look at, because these  assistive devices can be quite costly. The  Resource Centre at 4 Sight in Shoreham may be  able to help. 

The audio reader is a device for listening to  books. It is quite useful for readers who like a  novel read to them by a trained voice. 

Technology is rapidly developing and new  assistive devices are coming to the market all  the time. So keep an eye open ! 

Common Words and Abbreviations 


The macula is the small area of the retina (about 5 mm in  diameter) responsible for the processing of central vision, fine  detail and much colour vision.  

Dry AMD (Age Related Macular Disease)  

Sometimes also known as atrophic or geographic macular  degeneration. It is caused by the slow degeneration of the  macula. There is currently no cure or treatment for dry AMD.  Non-clinical support is given through low vision services. 

Wet AMD  

The aggressive and fast developing form of the condition caused  by leakage of blood and fluid from abnormal blood vessels on or  behind the macula. The leakages leave scar tissue that damages the macula. Permanent damage and sight loss will occur if not  treated within three months.  


This is the thin membrane at back of the eye that contains the  light-sensitive cells. The macula is in the centre of the retina.  

VA (Visual Acuity)  

This is a measurement of vision. In the UK, normal vision is  described as 6/6. It means the line of the Snellen chart (the  sight test chart used by eye specialists) read at 6 metres by a  person with normal vision. (The USA uses feet, hence the  broadly equivalent term 20/20 vision). 

We hope you enjoyed reading this booklet and we leave you with some useful  telephone numbers. 

Macular Society Helpline 0300 3030 111 Macular Society General Enquiries 01264 350551 Macular Society IT Helpline 0300 3030 111 4 Sight Vision Support Shoreham 01273 454343 Shoreham Macular Support Group Leader 01903 241673 West Sussex Bus Pass Information Line 0845 075 1018 

 The Shoreham Macular Support Group  meet on the 2nd Tuesday of each month  at 10.00 am upstairs in the Shoreham Centre,  Pond Road, Shoreham-by-Sea. BN43 5WU.

June 2018

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