Tips for Seniors With Low Vision

Published: October 20, 2014

There are many common causes of low vision in older adults including macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Once your particular vision impairment has been diagnosed, an occupational therapist can recommend simple tips to be followed at home and make recommendations about assistive devices that might also be helpful.

Following are some tips for managing deteriorating vision as a result of these or other conditions:


  • Establish and maintain a safe arrangement of furniture and personal belongings in the home.
  • Remove throw rugs or secure them with backing.
  • Paint the edges of stairs a bright color to make them easier to see.
  • Use a large, push button phone with speed dialing for assistance.
  • Improve the lighting in your home. You may not have to increase the brightness, but may need to reduce the glare with special lights.


  • Use a liner in the bottom of cabinets that contrasts with the plates to make them easier to see.
  • Use large-print lettering to label items in cabinets.
  • Install brightly colored or raised markings to the stove or microwave to facilitate cooking.
  • There are many pieces of adaptive equipment that can assist with meal preparation such as large-print or raised-line measuring cups and spoons, liquid level indicators for pouring hot and cold liquids and contrasting color cutting boards.
  • Salt and pepper can usually be identified by weight; salt is usually heavier.
  • Keep a magnifying glass handy for reading lists and recipes.

Medication Management

  • Store medicines in different places that serve as reminders. For example, keep them on the nightstand if it is to be taken at night or in the kitchen if it is to be taken during the day.
  • Rubber bands can be used to differentiate dosages. For example, two rubber bands can be placed on medications that are to be taken twice a day.
  • If there are no children in the home, ask the pharmacist for a conventional pill bottle rather than a childproof bottle.
  • Organize medications in alphabetical order.
  • Dispose of old medications promptly.


  • Use different sized baskets or plastic bags to separate clothing. This can be especially helpful if you go to the Laundromat.
  • Use the cap of the detergent bottle as a measuring device.
  • Use a one-ounce medicine cup to measure and add liquid fabric softener.
  • Safety considerations when doing laundry
  • Do not use the washer/dryer for support. Instead, keep a chair nearby in case you need to sit.
  • Place a mat on the floor near the washer and dryer to absorb spilled water.

Grooming – Oral Hygiene

  • Use dark-colored or striped toothpaste to contrast with white bristles, or vice-versa.
  • Hold the bristles between your thumb and forefinger to serve as a guide for toothpaste application.
  • Dispense toothpaste into your palm and then scoop it onto your toothbrush.

Grooming – Shaving

  • Use a magnifying mirror to enlarge the image of your face.
  • Apply shaving cream to your face one area at a time. The contrast will help indicate the parts that have already been shaved.


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