Useful Gifts Who People Who Are Visually Impaired

There’s nothing better than giving a useful present that’s well received! There’s some amazing low vision aids available that will help to improve quality of life for your older loved one, so without further ado let’s look at the best gifts for the visually impaired.

Before we get into our gift ideas, we wanted to help you better understand age related eye problems so we spoke with Satish Pancholi, lead optometrist at Opticall Eye Care to find out more.

Eyesight As You Get Older

Just like other parts of the body, our eyes have an ageing process. As we get older we start to lose the focusing ability in our lens, affecting how clear something is close up.

This is why from around the age of 40 – 50 years old, we need reading glasses (or longer arms to hold our books further away!). UV exposure, smoking, diet and a history of genetic eye problems (such as macular degeneration and glaucoma) can accelerate this.

Cataracts is the most common eye condition to develop – we’ll all get it, some just earlier than others. In fact, cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure on the NHS and it can be like having a pair of new eyes once done.

If you leave it too late though, other health issues may mean you’re unable to treat the cataracts as effectively, and so experience more vision impairment problems.

Low vision impacts us as we get older and are struggling with this close vision. It’s always important to encourage your elderly parent to see their optometrist (many, including Opticall Eye Care come to the house making it even easier).

Whilst vision changes as we get older, it doesn’t need to limit what we can and can’t do. There’s some wonderful gadgets for low vision available that can really make a difference to quality of life. Read on for our favourites.

Lighting For Visually Impaired

According to Satish, lighting plays just as big a role in elderly vision as glasses do. As we lose our focusing ability, just turning up the brightness isn’t enough – the position in the room is so important too.

Your parent should sit so that the light is behind them. This way they’re not looking directly into the light but the ‘task lighting’ is illuminating what they are looking at.

Knowing this, a lamp makes a great gift for the visually impaired. Read on for our selection.

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Best Reading Lamp For Elderly Parents

Double Head Floor Lamp

Someone very close to me had a double headed lamp to enhance her vision capacity. This is a great option as it comes with lampshades, which help to reduce glare from lighting.

The smaller side lamp can be rotated 360 degrees so your parent can easily set the best angle for task lighting. They can be used independently too, so you don’t need both lamps on at the same time. The product comes with bulbs but they’re only 9W so you may want to get something stronger (E27 up to 60W is fine with this model).

Double headed floor lamp with lampshades in a living room

Floor Light With Dimmer

This dimmable LED floor lamp comes with a remote control so your parent can turn it on and off or change the lighting setting without getting up. There’s five options for colour temperature and brightness (for example, if your parent wants a different light for a nap vs knitting) and it can be twisted into position (so you can abide by Satish’s rule of lamp position and make the lighting work for you!).

It’s easy to assemble and you can always tack up any wire to the wall if the plug is a little distance away, to prevent any falls. Great for improving the lighting set-up for watching TV etc.

Floor lamp with remote control

Neck Reading Light

We’ve written about this in our hospital gifts article, but it’s a great product that we think deserves a mention here.

Essentially, it’s a dimmable reading lamp that fits ergonomically around the neck. There’s three colour temperatures (yellow, warm white, cool white) and three dimmable brightness levels to suit your parent’s vision the best.

This Glocusent version is a good option if your parent doesn’t have the mobility to get up and turn a lamp on and off, or if they want to read in another room for example. There’s 80 hours of battery life, and it will then need to be recharged via a USB.

Round the neck reading lamp

Magnifying Table Lamp

Lighting is there to enable – so the light needs to be where you need it! A magnifying table lamp placed at your parent’s desk can help them concentrate on paperwork, or crafting (such as sewing or knitting).

This small magnifying table lamp is flexible so the halo can be moved to the suitable angle and it magnifies by 2.25X. It’s light and portable so can be moved from room to room and comes with different light settings depending upon brightness needs.

Magnifying table lamp

Reading Magnifiers For Visually Impaired

A low vision magnifier can be life changing for someone with reduced vision, letting them read independently. There’s a number of different options for reading magnifiers – both in terms of function and budget.

We’ve suggested some different options here, which will work depending on what you and the intended recipient are looking for.

Video Magnifier

People who live with low vision find some colours easier to read than others. That’s why this portable handheld video magnifier is so great – it comes with a number of colour modes so your loved one can choose what works for them. This could be white on black, black on white, full colour etc.

This video magnifier provides sharp clean images that are easily viewed in various magnification levels (and colour modes of course). With magnification levels from 4X – 32X, you zoom in and out and then freeze the required area so it can be read. It needs to be charged but there’s an alarm to signal it’s on when not in use to save battery life.

Although this is a more expensive magnifier, we think its functionality more than makes up for it.

Handheld Lighted Magnifying Glass

An elderly gentleman I know with low vision swears by his magnifying glass with light for reading.

Effective and cost effective, you hold the gadget with one hand and find the right distance for your eyesight as it zooms in (10x). There’s also three light modes (we know the importance of good lighting for low vision now don’t we!). It is important to flag that this style of magnifier is handheld and so the person using it needs to have ample hand dexterity to be able to comfortably hold it.

The gentleman I was referring to called his magnifier ‘Zebra’ because he’d covered it in white masking tape stripes – this black and white distinction meant he could find it more easily.

Tech Gifts

Alexa For Visually Impaired

Amazon Alexa can be a life-changing aid for elderly parents. In this instance, asking Alexa questions (such as ‘Alexa, what time is it?’) saves struggling to see the clock – I know lots of people who use it in this way and find it incredibly useful.  

You can also programme your Alexa to act as an alarm clock, a kitchen timer or even remind your mum and dad to take their medication. Plus, with its ability to play music, answer questions, and have family members drop in for a chat, Alexa can be a reassuring comfort for everyone.

Phones For Visually Impaired

We’ve written a whole article on the best phones for the elderly – there’s some amazing innovation about with phones with large buttons and improved lighting.

A good big button phone is this from Geemarc, who are known for their work in this space. We like the fact this pack combines a corded and cordless phone, both of which come with buttons much larger than the average. Plus, they are also hearing aid compatible.

iPad Accessibility For Visually Impaired

A tablet is a fantastic way to keep your finger on the pulse and stay connected with friends and family. But how do you use an iPad when you have low vision? Well, the good news is that Apple has a number of iPad accessibility functions, making this tablet a very useful gift. These include:

iPad VoiceOver: This is a screen reader that reads aloud (email, web pages etc). Just tap an item on the screen to select it and the it will be described out loud. You can control the pitch, choose the voice and so many other options.

Zoom In On An iPad: Double tap the screen with three fingers to zoom in by 200%.

Convert Screen Colours: Get a higher contrast and invert the colours, so it’s white on black. You can also play around with the contrast too.

In General / Accessibility, there’s lots of other options including making the font larger.

Cooking With Low Vision

Cooking is a real marker of independence and being able to keep this up can be so important to our parents – even the simple act of making a cup of tea can become more difficult. Here are some low vision gifts of the culinary variety.

Talking Kitchen Timer

If your parent doesn’t have an Alexa, a cost-effective way for them to stay on top of timings without needing to use the clock is a talking kitchen timer.

This magnetic option sticks to the fridge (or other surface) so can easily be found, and has four easy to use large buttons on the top to set it. If your parent still wants to cook their own food, this will help them prepare it well.

Kitchen Scales For Visually Impaired

Make cooking a million times easier with these talking kitchen scales. The loud volume and exact measurements mean that a recipe won’t go wrong! They come with an easy to read jug which has a large spout for pouring and indent to keep it in place when pouring.

Liquid Level Indicator

Give your parent the gift of peace of mind when making a cup of tea. This liquid level indicator means they will never overflow a mug again. It emits a high pitched noise when the probes are reached by the liquid. Very much a useful gift that will be used time and time again.

Games For Visually Impaired Adults

Jumbo Bananagrams

Who’d have thought that a word game shaped like a banana could be so popular?! This giant Bananagrams version has tablets three times the normal size making them easier to see. So quick, it’s a race against time to use all your letters up! A great visually impaired gift.

Giant Uno Cards

The thrill of rushing to get rid of all your cards in Uno is something else – and now your parent can join in easily with the whole family too. Pick up this set of large Uno cards and give them the gift of playing together.

Craft Activities For Visually Impaired Adults

Poor eyesight doesn’t mean having to give up on hobbies – after all, Monet had reduced vision and look what he achieved! Here’s some ideas for crafts for visually impaired adults.

Pottery

If your parent has low vision but is a budding sculptor, they don’t need to give up. Encourage them to sit at a desk with a magnifying table lamp and get busy with some non-messy clay.

If they close their eyes and imagine an object, they can then try and sculpt it with the tools in front of them. Not only is this great mental stimulation but it helps with hand dexterity too.

Light Up Crochet Hooks

Crochet is a great pastime when you’re sat in your comfy armchair, but what if you can’t see how to thread the hook anymore? That’s where these lighted crochet hooks come in.

There’s lots on the market, we like this option as it’s affordable and has a more ergonomic handle so it fits comfortably in the hand. The LED light needs to be charged for half an hour and then lasts up to 12 hours.

Conclusion

Knowing what to buy someone with low vision that ticks the useful and wanted boxes can be difficult, so I hope this round-up of gifts for visually impaired parents has been informative. There’s some wonderful innovations out there – the most important thing is to speak with your parent about what they’re struggling with, and see if you can find a solution from there. Thanks for stopping by and reading!

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