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Using a Computer and Phone with Low Vision

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Digital Devices and Low Vision

People with low vision often struggle with computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices. The following article addresses various options to assist these people with such devices. There are a wide range of effective programs, software, vision aids, assistive technologies, and general good practices that can be used to maximize vision.

This article focuses exclusively on people with low vision and the problems they have with digital devices. It should not be confused with the more common condition of visual eye strain (also known as "Computer Vision Syndrome") that many people experience when spending excessive time in front of computers.

This article is not intended as a diagnostic tool or replacement for an optometrist's advice. Always speak with a qualified eye doctor regarding ocular health.

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Using Hardware, Software, Settings, and Devices to Improve Low Vision

There are many visual aids to assist low vision patients with computers and digital devices. These include using optimal hardware settings, assistive technologies, and various aids to improve vision.

Hardware

Hardware options include:

    • Special screens/filters: These include screens for magnification and screens to reduce glare.
    • Keyboards/mouse: Keyboards with large buttons or larger letters/numbers are often helpful for those with visual impairment. Many people also benefit from a mouse trackpad. 
    • Keyboard Commands: Some people with low vision prefer keyboard commands instead of a mouse.

Software

There are numerous assistive technology products and special software to aid people with visual impairment:

  • Magnification software
  • Screen reader programs: Various software programs will read your screen to you. 
  • Speech to text software for dictation
  • Visual aid technologies

Settings

For those struggling with computer screens and other digital devices, the settings on computers and smartphones can be modified to assist vision difficulties. These include:

  • Options to magnify or enlarge the screen, or parts of the screen. There are also options for enlarging icons.
  • Options for illuminating devices by increasing or decreasing brightness. Additional options allow modifications of color and contrast. 
  • Options to change mouse settings for optimal usage.
  • Using assistive voice technologies such as SIRI embedded within the hardware
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Devices

  • CCTV: Allows for the magnification of images onto a larger monitor.
  • Magnifying glasses
  • LED lighting to maximize vision
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Amplify EyeCare is a team of a passionate and experienced optometrists practicing eye care at the cutting edge of technology and vision science. We are growing with new locations coming across the US.
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Common Questions

A person with low vision can use a computer by implementing assistive technology and adapting the settings. Consulting with a low vision optometrist may help in identifying the best solutions. Common adaptations include using screen magnifiers, large-text keyboards, and screen reading software. High contrast settings and adjustable font sizes also enable better readability. Regular low vision exams can help in keeping up with the changes in vision and adapting technology accordingly.
For individuals with poor eyesight, computer screens with high resolution, adjustable brightness, and glare reduction are often beneficial. Screens that allow customization of color contrast and have larger displays can make viewing more comfortable. It's wise to consult with a low vision eye doctor or optometrist to find the most suitable screen tailored to an individual's particular vision needs.
Various computer technologies are used to assist individuals with low vision. Screen magnification software, text-to-speech programs, and customizable high-contrast themes are common. Specialized keyboards with large print or Braille displays can also be beneficial. Many modern operating systems include built-in accessibility features designed for low vision users. A low vision exam with a specialized optometrist can help in identifying specific needs and recommending the most suitable technologies.
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Digital Vision Aids for Low Vision

People with low vision struggle with computers, smartphones, and other digital devices. Modern technology provides options to assist these people. Speak with a low vision optometrist to find out which options can aid vision when using computers, smartphones, tablets, and other types of electronic technology.

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