Self-management

Coping and support

Vision loss from macular degeneration can affect your ability to do things such as read, recognize faces and drive. These tips may help you cope with your changing vision:

  • Ask your eye doctor to check your eyeglasses. If you wear contacts or glasses, be sure your prescription is up to date.
  • Use magnifiers. A variety of magnifying devices can help you with reading and other close-up work, such as sewing. Such devices include hand-held magnifying lenses or magnifying lenses you wear like glasses. You may also use a closed-circuit television system that uses a video camera to magnify reading material and project it on a video screen.
  • Change your computer display and add audio systems. Adjust the font size in your computer's settings. And adjust your monitor to show more contrast. You may also add speech-output systems or other technologies to your computer.
  • Use electronic reading aids and voice interface. Try large-print books, tablet computers and audio books. Some tablet and smartphone apps are designed to help people with low vision. And many of these devices now come with a voice recognition feature.
  • Select special appliances made for low vision. Some clocks, radios, telephones and other appliances have extra-large numbers. You may find it easier to watch a television with a larger high definition screen, or you may want to sit closer to the screen.
  • Use brighter lights in your home. Better lighting helps with reading and other daily activities, and it may also reduce the risk of falling.
  • Consider your transportation options. If you drive, check with your doctor to see if it's safe to continue doing so. Be extra cautious in certain situations, such as driving at night, in heavy traffic or in bad weather. Use public transportation or ask a friend or family member to help, especially with night driving. Make arrangements to use local van or shuttle services, volunteer driving networks, or rideshares.
  • Get support. Having macular degeneration can be difficult, and you may need to make changes in your life. You may go through many emotions as you adjust. Consider talking to a counselor or joining a support group. Spend time with supportive family members and friends.

Prevention

The following measures may help reduce your risk of developing wet macular degeneration:

  • Have routine eye exams. Ask your eye doctor how often you need to undergo routine eye exams. A dilated eye exam can identify macular degeneration. In between checkups, you can do a self-assessment of your vision using an Amsler grid.
  • Manage your other medical conditions. For example, if you have cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure, take your medication and follow your doctor's instructions for controlling the condition.
  • Don't smoke. Smokers are more likely to develop macular degeneration than are nonsmokers. Ask your doctor for help to stop smoking.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. If you need to lose weight, reduce the number of calories you eat and increase the amount of exercise you get each day. Maintain a healthy weight by exercising regularly and controlling your diet.
  • Choose a healthy diet. Include fruits, leafy greens, nuts and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon.
  • Take certain nutritional supplements.If you have intermediate or advanced macular degeneration, taking supplements with high levels of vitamins C and E, zinc and copper may reduce the risk of vision loss, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says. Ask your doctor if taking supplements is right for you.