The latest technologies offer an ever-expanding hand in helping people with limited vision enjoy regular routines. Electronic readers as well as recently announced applications for iPhones and other smartphones can aid those whose vision is compromised when lighting is poor.
“Devices and apps that allow you to increase the size of fonts or that can read the text aloud can make a difference to those with low vision,” said Dr. Yu-Guang He, associate professor of ophthalmology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Cell phone apps, for example, convert text to speech. Many GPS devices and cell phone navigational aids now offer verbalized turn-by-turn directions. More cell phones also offer a voice command option, which allows you to speak a name or other command when screens and buttons are too small or lighting conditions are inadequate.
Electronic publications can be downloaded and read aloud on computers and many portable readers. Many devices can also be configured to help improve contrast, often a problem for those with low vision. Specially designed reading machines, electronic magnifiers and telescopes are also available.
Low-tech solutions – magnifying lenses, large-print books and playing cards – and tricks such as picking contrasting containers to distinguish sugar and flour when cooking can also help keep you involved in enjoyable activities, Dr. He noted.
Early signs of vision problems include difficulty reading street signs, recognizing familiar faces, sewing or performing other activities that require close vision. It is critical to get regular eye checkups, because some of the most devastating eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, may not have noticeable symptoms until damage is already done.
Visit www.utsouthwestern.org/ophth to learn more about clinical services in ophthalmology at UT Southwestern.