Managing Diabetes with Vision Loss
By Shawnna Armstrong, Certified Low Vision and Vision Rehabilitation Therapist
February 18, 2021
 
 
There are over 30 million people living with diabetes in the United States. It is the new leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. for people between the ages of 20 and 70. Diabetes can affect every part of the body, including the eyes. Other eye conditions related to diabetes include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma.
 
Having low vision can make it difficult to manage your diabetes. It may be challenging to test blood sugar, keep track of blood glucose readings, and dispense medications like insulin. At AVRE, we have certified professionals who can help you develop practical, effective tools and techniques to improve blood glucose monitoring, medication and nutritional management, and other activities of daily living.
  
Here are a few basic tips:
 
  • Maintain contact with your primary care provider, endocrinologist, optometrist, podiatrist, and diabetic educator to manage your diabetic needs.
  • Make sure your healthcare team is aware of any difficulties you are having.
  • Use a tray with a rim as a way to organize your diabetic supplies and as a way to contain dropped pills.
  • Use a dark tray to contrast colors so you can see your pills and testing strips easier.
  • Use a flex arm table or floor lamp when completing specific tasks.
  • Use hands free optical and electrical magnifiers. This allows you to use both hands to dispense pills, test blood glucose or measure insulin.
  • Label your medications in a way that helps you easily identify them.
  • Count the audible clicks on insulin pens to measure the correct amount of units you need to inject.
  • Large print displays and talking meters are available if you are unable to read the display. Speak with your doctor for more information on how to obtain one.
  • Keep track of your glucose readings in accessible formats. Use a large print diabetes register, voice recorder, or keep electronic records of your readings for ease of access.
  • Use of recommended low vision aids to access nutritional labels or medications.
 
For more information on ways we can assist you with your diabetic management, please contact AVRE.
 
Resources: Diabetes Self-Management.  https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/complications-prevention/tools-and-techniques-for-visual-impairment/;"Tools & Techniques for Visual Impairment", by Connie Kleinbeck, RN, BSN, CDE | Updated July 25, 2013