How can technology help people with Macular Degeneration?

According to the Age UK website, half a million people in the UK have some sort of macular condition. It normally affects people over 50 and especially over 65, but it can sometimes affect younger people. The macular is in the centre of the eye and cells can start to die. When they die you can lose your central vision, but peripheral vision isn't affected so you can still see to get around.

Commonly asked questions about macular disease and macular degeneration

x-ray of eyeball showing signs of macular diseaseMy Gran has macular disease and is struggling to order her shopping. What quick and easy changes could I make to help her out?

You might be surprised just how much you can do to change the settings on your computer just by making a few changes. A good start would be to go to our My Computer My Way website which provides step by step guides on how to customise Windows, Apple and Android computers, laptops and smartphones.

Hopefully that will help but if you are still having difficulties we have a network of volunteers who can help people in their own homes.

I can cope fairly well with using a computer but I struggle to cope with my correspondence.

There are definitely lots of options that can help. You can either scan letters in with a scanner and use Optical Character Recognition and text to speech to read it out to you, or you can use a device such as Readdesk to take a photo of the document and then have it read out to you. If you have a smartphone there are some really useful apps such as KNFB Reader that can scan text in and then read it out to you.

My Dad is trying to finish a book of poetry off but can't really see the letters on a keyboard. What can help him?

hi-vis keyboardThere are lots of different types of keyboards available which could help people who are having dificulty seeing the keyboard. For example a larger keyboard with hi-vis stickers on it might be useful - these can be purchased from many different places including the RNIB shop.

Case Study: Harry goes shopping again

Harry is very independent and enjoys going the local supermarket to get his groceries. Unfortunately due to his eye sight he now finds it hard to recognise the different sorts of products available.

One of our volunteers Lucy showed him how his smartphone could help him distinguish what products he was buying in the store using Talking Goggles. Harry uses the app at the shops and now feels a lot more confident in producing healthy meals.

How can we help?

AbilityNet provides a range of services to help disabled people and older people.

  • Call our free Helpline on 0800 269 545 and our friendly, knowledgeable staff will offer one-to-one help.
  • If you are in work your employer has a responsibility to make Reasonable Adjustments which include helping you with invisible illnesses. Find out more about how we help disabled in the workplace.
  • Arrange a home visit from one of our amazing AbilityNet ITCanHelp volunteers. They can come to your home, or help you over the phone.
  • We have a range of factsheets which talk in detail about technology that might help you, which can be downloaded for free. You may find our factsheets talking about computers and vision impairment useful
  • My Computer My Way is our free interactive guide to all the accessibility features built into current desktops, laptops, tables and smartphones.