Useful Gifts Who People Who Are Visually Impaired (Updated 2023)
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.
- Useful Gifts Who People Who Are Visually Impaired (Updated 2023)
- Eyesight As You Get Older
- Lighting For Visually Impaired
- Best Reading Lamp For Elderly Parents
- Reading Magnifiers For Visually Impaired
- Tech Gifts
- Cooking With Low Vision
- Games For Visually Impaired Adults
- Craft Activities For Visually Impaired Adults
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
My wonderful nanny had a double headed floor lamp in her living room next to her riser recliner chair – we bought it for her when we saw that she was struggling to see the crossword in the newspaper as easily as before. The addition of a smaller lamp meant she had the benefit of light across the room from the main lampshade, and could then direct light to what she was looking at (a book, a puzzle for example) from the other lamp head.
As eyesight worsens, it’s not just about more lighting but it’s where the light is focused – and this double floor lamp ticks that box.
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. Even better (especially as electricity bills are rocketing), the two lights can be used independently too, so you don’t need both lamps on at the same time.
The beauty of this is that it looks good as well as helping your mum or dad to see better. Its thin frame means it will fit into a small space and it won’t take over the room. The cream coloured lampshades look good and let the light out well, so the double headed lamp can do its job.
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).
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.
I love a neck reading light – in fact we’ve written about this in our hospital gifts article, but it’s a great product that we think deserves a mention here.
Imagine this – you’re reading in bed. The main light in the room is off and just your bedside table lamp is on. But we all know that a bedside light isn’t that strong don’t we. And over the past few months, it has got harder to read your book before turning in for the night.
That’s when a reading neck light can really help. It directs the light at what you’re looking at (so not only does it help you see, but it means that anyone next to you won’t be disturbed with a bright light).
This ergonomically bendy neck book light drapes around your neck and features a light at the end of each arm that you can target towards your book (use one or both together, depending on how much light is required – it’s pretty bright when both arms are lit up together). Hands-free, you can position it just so and it’s comfy enough that you won’t notice it. The brightness is adjustable, with three colour temperatures (yellow, warm white, cool white) three dimmable brightness levels to suit your parent’s vision the best.
While someone younger or with better vision may opt for the yellow light, the warm white could be better for your mum or dad.
It’s a dimmable reading lamp that fits ergonomically around the neck. There’s three and
This Glocusent LED neck reading light version is rechargeable. To me that’s a real win as you don’t have to find new batteries, but it may be that your mum or dad don’t have a USB charger. If so, you would need to get them one to go with it. Once charged, it lasts for up to 80 hours of continuous use – that’s a lot of reading!
It’s 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.
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. As it’s not handheld, it’s a great option if your parent suffers with hand dexterity, for example with Parkinson’s or arthritis.
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.
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.
Question – how do you find the vision aid you’re looking for when you can’t see very well? I’ve got a little tip from an elderly gentleman I know.
He had a magnifying glass with light which he used to read letters, books and the newspaper. Whilst he kept his handheld magnifier on his desk, it wasn’t always in exactly the same place. So he covered the black device with lines of white masking tape (he affectionately called it his ‘zebra’) to increase the contrast between the magnifier and its background and help it stand out.
Using colour (as well as white) in this way can also help people with low vision to see better – for example using bright post-it notes to mark where things are on a table, or fluorescent tape to mark the edge of a table.
Anyway, back to this 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.
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.
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.
Too often nowadays, new tech advancements means gadgets are harder to use. That’s not the case with this sleek radio.
Simple to look at yes, but it more than does what you expect a radio to do – it’s a DAB radio and simple music player in one. You can programme it to play four radio stations at the touch of a button, or download your parent’s favourite songs onto a USB which plugs into the back.
The radio for low vision has a sleek design, using white and grey to create a visual contrast for the buttons and edges. The font is easy to read, using capitals and the streamlined style doesn’t overcomplicate.
It’s from Relish, a lovely company that makes products for the dementia community. Their aim is to create products that make life easier and spark joy, which is why they have built a radio that is simple to use and works with declining vision.
We’ve actually filmed a short video about the dementia radio which you can check out below:
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.
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.
Remember those TV shows you used to watch about the future, and they had talking equipment? Well the future is now if these talking kitchen scales are anything to go by!
Turn the scales on, place your mixing bowl them and then slowly pour your ingredients in. Pause to let the numbers settle and rather than struggling to see them, the scales will tell you the weight so you know how much further you have to go.
For liquids, they also come with an easy to read jug – I don’t know about you but I find reading the volumes on my Pyrex measuring jug tricky and that’s with my glasses on. With a non-slip handle grip and large print measurements on the outside, it’s easier to see than the standard.
Plus it has a large spout for pouring and indent to keep it in place when pouring.
Ah, there’s nothing like a good old cup of tea is there?! Decreasing vision however can mean that the daily task of making one gets harder – what if your parent burns themselves by pouring in too much water?
We’re all about finding useful aids that improve independence at home and this liquid level indicator does just that (and provides you peace of mind). Using this, your parent will never overflow a mug again. Bright orange in colour, it stands out like a sore thumb (in a good way) so your parent can see it both on the kitchen counter before making the tea and to attach it to the mug.
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
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.
A quicker game than the similar Scrabble, it’s a game that features many a banana joke.
To start, you share tiles out between the players (after saying ‘split’), and then have to make a mini Scrabble-esque board of your own, using your own letters. Finished all your letters? Shout ‘banana’. Take another letter? Shout ‘peel’.
The beauty of Bananagrams is that it can also be played solo. How many words can your loved one make out of the 144 tiles?
So quick, it’s a race against time to use all your letters up! A great visually impaired gift.
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.
First of all in Uno, the dealer is chosen (each player picks a card and it’s the person with the highest number). Everyone is then dealt seven cards and all remaining cards are placed face down in the middle.
The dealer takes the first card from here and places it face-up.
The player to their left starts, and has to either match the number or the colour of the face-up card with a card in their hand. If the card is matched, play continues to the next player.
There’s some special cards (wild, reverse etc) and the aim of the game is to get down to one card, call UNO and then actually get rid of that last card!
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.
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.
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.
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!