Trying to help my mom deal with vision loss. Any advice?

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She has almost perfect vision in one eye and 20/400 in other. Trying to help her regain ability to read, write, etc. She finds it very difficult to function with eyes so different. Better to cover up eye? Or is there another device that may help her?

Answers 1 to 10 of 15
Depending on how old your mom is, and her willingness to pursue ways for her eyes to function, check and see if there's a low vision store in your area or you can order low vision products from a catalog. There are many useful items for low vision. Hope this is helpful.
Top Answer
Is the 20/400 vision eye correctable with a lens? If so, that would be what to do. If not she can temporarily cover the "bad" eye when reading, etc. But she would probably completely lose the vision in that eye if she covered it all -- or even nearly all -- the time.
She has glaucoma in her bad eye and problems with the retina, so correction with a lens is not possible. She's seen two retinal specialists that have both said repair is not possible to a degree where she would even notice the difference. She is almost 89. I have had a suggestion to see a low-vision specialist to see what kind of help they might have for her. I will follow through with that. We are trying to convince her that her eye will not get better and she needs to deal with her eyes as they are now. Dementia is also an issue.
We live in Iowa, the state has a Department for the Blind, they work with people who have low vision also. My mom has lost her central vision to Macular Degeneration. They provide books on tape to her, they sent out a vision/hearing specialist to demonstrate adaptive equipment when she complained that she couldn't hear well. These wonderful services were done at not charge to my mother or us. Please check with your retinal specialists and ask if your state has this resource.
Yes, My mom has macular degeneration too. She still has problems with accepting that her eyes are so bad. We also have library for the blind. They are wonderful and you can pick whatever category you would like. Mom and I listen to them together so it adds to our bonding time. I would follow up with a low-vision specialist too.
I've sort of been where your mother is, but thankfully, I got better. Cataract surgery in one eye left me with two working eves that saw things totally different. I'd say the first thing to do is to agree with her that it sucks!

For me, covering the bad eye, especially while reading, would be the way to go. The bad eye still contributes vision for things like balance, but it interferes with close work. Not everyone can do that, but it's worth a try. Have her try it every day for a week or two, and she might be able to function better after a while.

If she wouldn't get insulted, joke about it. "Well, now you don't need to dust because you can't see the cobwebs!"

You may not be able to do much to fix things, but you can give her sympathy and love.
I'm not familiar with glaucoma or how the sight is affected as to seeing. My Mother had Macular Degeneration for probably 35 years, first dry, then wet. She got very bad but for years functioned okay on her own with aids. Do contact, as recommended, your state agency for the blind. They provided talking watch and CCTV for my Mother. Came in and assessed the house and made suggestions to help. Also the books on tape are great. Delivered free and returned free, along with the player.

One easy cheap thing is, if she has trouble seeing which button to push on something like a microwave, those little, sticky-backed rubber bumpers that are usually used on cabinet doors are good for marking things. They come in square and round shapes so, you can designate for different thing like off or on. Works on the other appliances also. I also bought paint pens at the hobby shop and marked things and words big for her.

But the very best thing I did was I got her into a trial study at NIH, National Institute of Health, in Bethesda, MD. It is about an hour and a half drive for us, but everything is totally free. The only thing you pay is your time. We went to that for 7 years, she got great treatment and they had machines that can see stuff in the eye and it was one of maybe only 6 machines in the US. Plus, they are usually ahead of the game on treatments. She didn't get any worse and in fact, regained about 4 lines of sight for a while. But then the disease progressed and it wasn't helping any more. I now go down to be in a different study because my Macula at 66 is very good, so I'm in the control group. I figure I need to give back for all the years of free treatment Mother got, plus it might help others in the future.

I don't know where you live but if you go to and put in your disease, it will show all the studies going on in the United states. You can narrow it down to your area. Not only the government does these studies, universities and private companies also do them. I would only put one caveat out there. I didn't want my mother in a masked study where some got maybe a placebo because AMD is a progressive disease. I couldn't take the chance she get the placebo and the disease got worse. There was one at Hopkins at the time that was like that which is why we didn't participate there.

Don't know if you'll find any, but it's worth a shot. Good luck.
Maybe pinhole glasses would help her. They have black opaque plastic lenses, and small holes are punched through these lenses. They are not very expensive. You can Google them to see how they work. I found that Amazon sells them at the cheapest price. In my experience, they make the vision sharper while you're wearing them. You want good (strong) lighting when wearing them. I don't recommend the "sunglasses" style, which has a clear reflective plastic over the lenses. That's because my old "sunglasses" had bigger holes, and that made them less effective. I remember reading about Eskimos that would use wooden goggles with slits to help them see across blinding white snow. Maybe the pinhole glasses work in much the same way.
When you cover one eye, you burden the other eye, and your brain gets confused. Get her prescription glasses. Magnifying glass comes in all sorts of sizes and shapes. You can have one that is letter size that enlarges a whole page. Check with the Blind Center in your city for help.
Mom kept seeing an eye doctor, but the neurologist read her CT and said vision would not improve due to damage in the brain. So if she's had any TIA's or a stroke, consult with a neuro man.

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