Your Toolbox

For each lesson, use these tools:


  • Good light shines on what you are trying to see, NOT in your face.
  • Lighting should be not too dim, but not too bright either. The amount of light that you need will vary from time to time, and area to area.
  • When a light source is moved closer to an object, the object is brighter.
  • Move a light to the left or right, high or low to reduce glare.
  • If you are in the sun, sit with the sun behind you, shining on what you are trying to see.
  • If you wear sunglasses, darker tints reduce glare better than lighter tints, but also can make vision less sharp. Brown, orange or yellow tints make dark colors darker while light colors do not get as dark. This improves contrast. But these tints also distort colors, and this sometimes can make some objects difficult to identify. Gray lenses do not distort colors, but provide less contrast than brown lenses. Some people have at least two pair of tinted glasses to adapt to different levels of glare. They may wear gray lenses for bright sun, brown on overcast days, and yellow or orange for indoor glare. A low vision rehabilitation service can help you find the best glare protection.
  • Wear a visor, with or without sunglasses, outdoors or in, when glare is a problem.
  • Work on a dark, no-shine surface to reduce reflected glare.


  • An object should be only as large as is needed to see the object with as much detail as is needed.
  • If an object is twice as close to you, it appears twice as big. However, most adults over the age of 40 need reading glasses or a magnifier to focus on objects that are closer than an arm’s distance away from the eye. The closer the object, the more powerful the lens needs to be.
  • Magnifiers, eyeglasses, telescopes and electronic magnification systems such as closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) can make an object seem bigger so that it is easier to see. A low vision rehabilitation service can help you find the best device for the task that you are trying to do.
  • When an object is smaller, it can be seen in relation to the objects around it, and sometimes this can help identify an object.
  • When an object is smaller, it can be seen without moving the eyes as much, so the eyes will not tire as quickly. This also lessens the possibility of motion sickness.
  • If you are reading larger print, and start to feel a bit queasy, stop reading until the feeling passes. To avoid that queasy feeling, move print in front of your face more slowly.


  • Find the best focus distance of your reading eyeglasses when you look at something close to you. For bifocals, raise your chin, so you look through the lower lens. Use the “A” below as a target. Put the “A” on your nose, then slowly move it away from your face until it is in the sharpest focus.


Now lower your chin, so you are looking at the “A” with the top half of your eyeglasses. Does it get fuzzier? If it helps you to see better, use reading glasses at their best focus distance.

  • Check to see if your distance eyeglasses help you to see better. Sit 3 to 4 feet from a TV. Look at the TV with and without your distance eyeglasses (or the top part of your bifocals). Try this also at 6 – 8 feet from a TV. If the TV is sharper when you use distance eyeglasses, wear them when you need to look at distant objects.


  • Objects are seen better when they stand out from the background.
  • If the object is light colored, put it on a dark background. If it is dark, put it on a light background.
  • Avoid backgrounds (like a table cloth or a plate) that have patterns or prints.
  • Choose pens that make a thick, black line.


  • The brain finds and identifies an object faster and with less work if more than one sense at a time is used for the task.
  • An object that emits a sound is easier to locate with your eyes, than a silent object.
  • If you touch what you are trying to see (such as following a line of print with your finger), an object is easier to locate with your eye.


  • Vision is eyesight, memory and logic working together. When eyesight is less clear, memory and logic do more work.
  • The more you work at identifying objects that look fuzzy, the more able you will be to identify them using your eyes, memory and logic together.
  • When you cannot identify an object, ask yourself what belongs where you are looking. (Example: Knowing that an object is a toaster, because it is in a kitchen.)


People can help you to get things done and learn new skills. There is a difference between dependence and inter-dependence. Think about the difference between these two words. Inter-dependence can be a helpful skill to learn. It is the building block of all great nations.


  • If you have a blank, dim or distorted area in the center of your field of vision, that area can block what you are trying to see.
  • Some areas in your field of vision see more clearly than other areas. When your vision changes, you must learn to find the new area of best vision. These areas will not be as clear as the center area used to be.
  • The clearest vision is often at the edge of the center blank spot.
  • The larger the blank spot is in the center of your vision, the less clear your vision will be, and the larger the print needs to be for you to see it. When a person has age-related macular degeneration, the center blank spot usually does not get any bigger than the central 20% of a person’s total visual field.
  • It is easy for your gaze to drift away from a new area of best vision, but the more you work on finding the best spot and staying on that spot, the easier this will become.
  • Learning to find your best area of vision is something that will be covered in the lessons that follow.


Look at this book with the different lamps in your home. Move each lamp close to the book and then far away, to the left and then to the right. Look at the book in the sun. Where is the best light for you to read?

Gather any sunglasses and hats that you own. Put them on, in your house, in a market, in bright sun, in shade, and when you ride in a car. What tint do you wear, in what type of light, to see the best? Notice which sunglasses give you better glare protection, and which sunglasses allow you to see more sharply.

Stand across the room from an object like a vase of flowers or a picture. Look at it, then move two steps closer and look again. Keep doing this until you are right next to the object. Where do you stand to see most clearly?

Set your table with different colors of placemats, plates and cups. Add types of food: carrot sticks, potato chips, coffee or milk. What color combinations help you see most clearly?

Sit 3 or 4 feet from a TV. With your eyes closed, change the channel, then listen until you make a picture in your mind of what you hear. Open your eyes and compare the picture you see with the one in your mind. Do this again with 3 more channels.

Call a phone number that you know well. Use only touch to enter the number on the phone keys. Remember that the numbers start at the top:

1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9
* 0 #

You can stick a bump on the 5, and find the bump with your middle finger. Your index finger pushes 1, 4, 7. Your middle finger pushes 2, 5, 8. Your ring finger pushes 3, 6, 9. The thumb pushes the bottom row: *, 0, #. Try this many times before you really call. If this is just too much work sometimes, you can push “0” and ask the operator to call the number for you. This is a free service for people with vision problems. Call your phone company for more information.

Pick out an outfit to wear. Then get dressed and groomed. Now ask someone: How do I look? Does anything need fixing?

Go to a market and try to find the food that you need. Can you find ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and pickle relish at the market? They are all related, so they will be near to each other. Do you remember what part of the store they are in? Can you find them by the color or the shape of the jar? Slowly scan the shelves from top to bottom, and left to right, so you do not miss anything.

Think about and use each of these tools during each lesson. Review this section as you do the lessons to help you remember the information.

  • Lighting
  • Object Size
  • Eyeglasses
  • Contrast
  • Other Senses
  • Memory & Logic
  • Personal Help


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