Macular Degeneration and Me

Low Vision and High Hope


If I had to name one thing that makes the biggest difference in my life with mac degen it’s lighting.  And not just any lighting, it’s got to be the right lighting.  I learned an important lesson from Dr. Monica Casey-Gee, the low vision specialist at NABA (Northeast Association for the Blind).  She told me that everyone sees differently, even those with normal vision.  Your eyes are unique to you much like your fingerprints so there is no one size fits all answer to finding the right lighting.

The best example I can give is my full spectrum floor lamp purchased several years ago and little used.  Full spectrum lighting is close to the natural light you get from the sun and produces a brighter, clearer light for some people. Over the years I’ve tried to use this lamp placing it so I was getting overhead light but it never really met my needs..  After my meeting with Dr. Casey-Gee I experimented using the lamp in different ways.  First while sitting and reading a book, I moved the lamp to shine directly on the book instead of overhead.  It Worked!  Then I tried moving the swivel head into different positions.  It Worked Again! Now I have a functional full spectrum lamp.  All it took was some understanding and a little experimenting.

I’ve added some other types of lighting to different areas of the house.  The best way to decide where you need more light is to take a walk around your house, noting areas where you have trouble seeing – the kitchen, the office, the bedroom, the bathroom (shaving, putting on make-up), the living areas.  Don’t just look for areas that are gloomy or dark but areas with high glare.  I have halogens in my track lighting and compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) for general overall room lighting.  Unlike incandescent bulbs CFLs produce less heat and use less energy.

My sister installed under-the-cabinet lighting in my kitchen giving me much-needed light where I do most of my prep work.  I have a lighted magnifying mirror in the bathroom and have added a few task lamps.  The windows in my office created tremendous glare problems which we solved by installing a pleated sun-filtering shade.

One of my favorite lights is one I use around the house and also when I go to restaurants, stores and other places that are low-lit.  It’s a hand-held, battery operated light with 12 small full spectrum bulbs.  Everybody always wants to borrow it.  I also purchased a lighted magnifying light that I use for map reading and similar tasks where magnification is necessary.

If you think more lighting will help you, remember that my experiences are unique to me but I can suggest you do a few things:  meet with a certified low vision specialist, an optometrist or ophthalmologist specializing in the evaluation and management of low vision rehabilitation; research the various types of lighting on the market for low vision – this is all-important; visit craft or similar stores that carry full spectrum lamps; don’t be afraid to ask that packaging be opened and the lamp turned on.  Most stores with good customer service offer to do this automatically.  Your favorite lighting supply store may have a staff member to help you select good under-cabinet lighting.

Most all BE PRO-ACTIVE – Light up your life.  You will find your stress level drops when you have good lighting and metaphorically speaking you will lighten the load you carry.

See some of my favorite low vision lighting aids below



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