Top 10 Tips for Improving Low Vision at Home

Editor: Dr. Russel Lazarus, Published January 5, 2021

Low vision can significantly impact your daily functioning. Follow these 10 tips to increase your independence at home, for even the simplest of activities. 

1. Use contrasting colors whenever possible. 

Contrasting light colors with dark colors whenever possible will improve your vision for many tasks around your home, especially when cooking and eating.

When pouring a dark liquid such as coffee or cola, use a light-colored cup. Similarly, when cutting dark foods, such as spinach or meat, use a light-colored cutting board.

In contrast, when preparing light-colored drinks and food, use dark-colored cups and plates.

It is also a good idea to place light-colored dishes on a dark tablecloth or placemat, and visa versa— and try to use solid colors whenever possible to avoid visual confusion.

2. Place brightly colored tape on the handles of your kitchen utensils and household items. 

Labeling your kitchen utensils and equipment will help you to easily recognize what you are looking for, and allow you to navigate more comfortably around your home.

Marking the oven dial at the temperature you most frequently use will increase your ability to cook independently and reduce your anxiety in the kitchen.

Brightly-colored tape can also be applied to electrical outlets, light switches, and any other item around your home to facilitate easier recognition.

3. Mark the knobs on your stovetop. 

Use brightly colored tape or nail polish to mark the knobs on your stovetop. This is especially important for the back burners as it will help to reduce accidents in the kitchen, like reaching over a flame or touching a hot burner.

4. Set a timer when cooking. 

Cooking by time, rather than relying on your vision to determine if your meal is ready will ensure that your food is always fully cooked— and reduce your chances of undercooking, overcooking or even burning your meals.

5. Write recipes in large print.

Writing all of your recipes in large print, with a black felt tip pen, on a large light-colored index card will help you to decipher the recipe more easily.

It is also a good idea to color-code the cards according to category, assigning a different color for meat, poultry, and dairy dishes, side dishes, and desserts.

6. Use bright lighting, at least 75W.

Bright lighting makes it easier to see the food you are preparing, as well as the food on your plate.

Place a lamp on your counter or table to shine light directly onto your workstation or table to further increase your vision.

7. Use magnifying mirrors.

Magnifying mirrors can be placed around your home, or carried from room to room to help you with a variety of tasks and activities.

For increased independence while shaving or applying makeup, place a magnifying mirror onto your bathroom wall.

You may also wish to hang a towel that contrasts with the color of your hair to improve your vision during these tasks.

8. Hang a clear plastic shower curtain in your bathroom.

Hanging a clear shower curtain in your bathroom will enable more light to penetrate through and brighten up your shower and bathroom.

9. Mark the edges of your stairs with contrasting colors.

This will facilitate clearer vision while walking up and down the stairs, both inside and outside your home and reduce your risk of falling.

10. Purchase a low vision device.

A variety of low vision devices have been designed to help people with low vision function more independently. A wide selection of devices are now available, from simple hand-held magnifiers to digital and computer-based devices.

Speak with your optometrist or low vision specialist to determine which type of low vision device will be most effective in improving your vision for your daily needs.

If you have been diagnosed with low vision and find it difficult to perform many of your daily activities independently, practice these tips to enhance your daily functioning and improve your quality of life.