By Michael Russell
If you have Multiple Sclerosis, you without a doubt have at least some occasional bouts of low vision. It is rare for anyone with Multiple Sclerosis to escape this often-terrifying limitation. An encounter with vision problems of some sort is usually what signals a problem that begins the journey into a sometimes-tedious ordeal of a diagnosis of MS. Seemingly simple symptoms such as blurred or double vision, floaters and a dimming of or loss of color recognition can more than just disrupt your life. It can leave you feeling like a helpless victim, unprepared and very frightened.
Suddenly, your lifetime enjoyment in jotting notes and letters to friends and loved ones and reading your morning paper or a book every now and then, just became more complicated – even impossible and these are just the things you look forward to doing. Just think about how dependent we are on our eyesight. Because we can see, we don’t bump into walls and other obstacles. There are traffic and street signs with particular colors that are important for us to be able to not only see but also recognize for the safety of others and ourselves.
Many of these MS-related symptoms are considered minor and are usually temporary. Compared to the more serious symptomatic vision problems that could occur with MS, these tend to come and go with episodes triggered by excessive stress and or high temperatures due to weather, hot tubs, showers or saunas. Though minor, their arrival can cause confusion and sometimes even safety issues. This precarious situation is not altogether impossible to deal with. With a little help from specialized low-vision aids, you can maintain that precious independence of reading and writing. Yes, even during those low-vision periods you can read that morning paper or treat yourself to a new magazine.
There is an ongoing list of aids geared specifically for low vision problems due to symptoms from Multiple Sclerosis or other eye diseases or disability. Below is a partial list of companies that carry magnifiers (small and full page size), kitchen aids (measuring utensils), talking aids (clocks, calculators, scales, prescription bottle identifiers), writing guides, dimensional paint and large print recreational items like cards and dominoes for a start.
Since there can be wide differences among those with Multiple Sclerosis, only you can be the judge of what you need. Sit down with a friend and make a customized list of the limitations that are unique to you. Then add what you think would make the specific limitation easier. Don’t try to do this quickly. Take a week and make a project of it. You want it to be an accurate picture of your needs. Now, with that information as your tool, begin to look around for the type of “low vision” aid you need in the marketplace. It probably exists. Just keep at it until you find it. Don’t just stop living because of a low vision limitation. Taking advantage of the available living aids is one big productive step around a limitation. Many times, you have to work to keep what you have. Just remember how important seeing is to you and let it propel you ahead to find what you need.
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Multiple Sclerosis
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