by Tami Barber
For most of us, vision is our primary sense. We use vision to explore our world, and we also use it to complete our everyday tasks.
From the moment we wake up in the morning and read the time on our clocks, to when we glance at the dark skies outside and realize it is time for bed, we use our vision to help guide us through our days. We use our vision to see our children or grandchildren. We use it to navigate our phones or computers. We use it to read the directions on our medication bottles.
We rely on our vision more often than we are aware. When our vision becomes impaired, however, life as we know it changes. It can feel devastating at first; but it does not have to be. Even when there are no longer eyeglasses that can fix our vision, there is still hope.
Low vision is defined as a visual impairment that does not improve with corrective lenses and that interferes with a person’s ability to perform their daily activities. It is estimated that 1 in 6 people over the age of 45 and 4 in 6 people over the age of 65 have some form of low vision.
“Occupational therapists specially trained and certified in low vision can help restore independence in the activities that matter most to people with visual impairment,” said Amanda Whipple, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, occupational therapist with Aspirus Outpatient Therapy Services – Stevens Point and one of just five OTs in Wisconsin to be certified in low vision rehabilitation by the American Occupational Therapy Association. “We can teach people living with low vision effective ways to increase their safety and independence in the home, workplace, and community.”
Whipple teaches her patients with low vision a variety of strategies. For example, for patients who have difficulty with glare or low contrast, her suggestions include:
Cover bright windows or lights that you might be facing that are causing glare. Make sure the light is coming from the side (directional task lighting), not overhead.
Use sunglasses that wrap around your eyes, and wear hats with brims if you are exposed to bright overhead lights or are outdoors on bright, sunny days.
Use contrasting colors, such as a dark toothbrush on a white sink, a white plate on a dark tablecloth, a white mug for coffee, dark foods on a white plate, black tape on the edge of each light-colored stair, or a contrasting/bright color collar on pets.
“Vision loss can be scary,” said Whipple. “But specially trained and certified occupational therapists can help people with low vision get back to living life to the fullest.”
To learn more about low vision rehabilitation or to schedule an appointment with Amanda Whipple, call Aspirus Outpatient Therapy Services – Stevens Point at 715-345-1447. For more information about the wide range of therapy services Aspirus offers in locations throughout Wisconsin, please visit aspirus.org/therapies
The Sentinel & Rural News covers the news and events of Clark County and southern Taylor County, as well as regional news that affects those areas.