Reading With Macular Degeneration – Useful Tips

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Reading and writing with AMD

When you have macular degeneration, reading and writing become more challenging. Here are some pointers and advice to assist you with reading and writing despite central vision loss. 

Reading with Macular Degeneration

Reading may be more challenging if you have macular degeneration. Reading might grow difficult when your eyesight deteriorates. The loss of central vision, which is the most severe sign of macular degeneration (AMD), is accompanied by a smudge or black patch called a scotoma in more advanced cases of AMD. This makes reading challenging and leads to many individuals giving up on reading. However, you may go on reading with a few modifications.


A low vision evaluation can assist you in choosing the best magnifiers and instruct you on how to use them. For different tasks, you may require different magnifiers. Various kinds of magnifiers include: 

Handheld Magnifiers

The most popular kind of magnifier is the handheld magnifier, just like when you were a kid playing with a magnifying glass you hold the lens back from the target which makes it bigger, in this case, your reading material.  The illumination in many portable magnifiers is built-in. Some are small enough to fit in your pocket and are excellent for outside activities like shopping. 

Stand Magnifiers

To maintain the proper distance between the lens and the text while using a stand magnifier, place it on the paper. For those with shaky hands, stand magnifiers might be useful. 

Brightfield and flatfield magnifiers

Brightfield and flatfield magnifiers are bar or dome magnifiers that resemble rulers or paperweights. To read the text, place the magnifier on the page and move it across. 

Neck Worn Magnifiers

Round-the-neck magnifiers are ideal for activities like crocheting that need you to have free hands. They come at lesser magnification levels, so those with the more advanced macular disease may not find them useful. 

Monocular Telescope

These are more compact and lightweight than regular telescopes and are designed for those with vision loss. They may be helpful for duties and activities like going to the theater or reading bus schedules and notice boards. 

Digital handheld magnifiers

Digital handheld magnifiers are the size of a big phone or tablet and include a camera and a screen. They enlarge any word on the screen so you may adjust its size, contrast, and even freeze-frame a picture to make it seem closer to you. 

Desktop video magnifiers

Desktop video magnifiers are similar to computers in size and include a camera and screen. A paper is seen on the screen after being placed underneath the camera. It is possible to modify the color contrast and enlarge the picture.

High-tech Low Vision Aids 

E-readers, cellphones, and tablets are the newest low-vision aids available. The font (the print) size may be changed. Additionally, you may be able to adjust the contrast on the web pages or books you’re now reading. Some devices have OCR (optical character recognition) technology and can read aloud to you. For certain smartphones and tablets, you may also download apps that are able to enlarge things. Some can read the paper money’s denomination. Some can do a vision test that you may then transmit to your eye doctor.

Good Lighting 

Reading abilities in people with AMD may be significantly enhanced by increasing the quantity and kind of illumination. 

Bright light

Typically, a table lamp won’t give enough light to read a book. Consider purchasing a gooseneck lamp with an adjustable gooseneck so you can aim the light onto the reading material. 


Try to set up your furniture so that you may sit next to a window for relaxing, daytime reading since natural sunshine is the best lighting for reading. 


For each light fixture in the home, use the brightest light bulbs possible. These include full-spectrum, halogen, and LED lightbulbs (which imitate natural sunlight more than incandescent bulbs). Halogen, however, should be used with caution since it might produce too much heat. Any fluorescent lighting that is present should be replaced since it may be glaring, especially for those with limited eyesight. However, using weaker lights and moving the lamp closer are the greatest choices for reading. 


Typoscopes are basic but practical instruments. They’re often composed of black cards or plastic with holes drilled into them for use as a writing or reading guide. For signing checks and other paperwork, a signature guide, a credit card-sized replica of this, is quite helpful. 

How to Obtain Free Audio Books for Visually Impaired and Blind People?

You may discover what seems to be a lot of sites online if you search for “free audiobooks.” Websites like “Audible” and “All You Can Books” provide a free trial period for their services to persuade users to check them out. You will discover that few audiobook providers are really 100 percent free, however. You will need to pay a membership charge to keep using the service once the trial time has ended. You could also need to spend money on a specialized player or try using a smartphone to listen to books. 

Recordings of books in the public domain are often available on many of the websites that do provide free material, such as Librivox. The books are available for free download, and you may use any device that can play their audio files to listen to them. The public library system’s Overdrive service also offers free material. You may download a book from Overdrive and retain it until the lending time is through and the file expires. 

These services are all excellent. However, there is a far better option if you’re seeking user-friendly, cost-free audio books for the blind and visually impaired. Every state offers braille and audiobooks for the blind and visually impaired, as well as print books for individuals with disabilities, via the National Library Service (NLS). Users may download books, however, using this service does not need a computer. You may get and send back free physical braille books and audiobooks on cartridges from libraries. You may borrow a free audiobook player from the library to listen to your books as well.


The following ideas will help make writing simpler if you have macular degeneration and find it difficult to read your own or others’ handwriting: 


Choose matte-finished paper to lessen glare from the page. Paper that is yellow or a contrasting color might help with color contrast. 

Use a black fiber-tipped pen, which is available in different thicknesses. As your macular degeneration worsens, you may discover that you need to increase the thickness of your pen. 

The usage of cursive handwriting should be avoided since it may be difficult to read, particularly when enlarged. 

Using a computer or other device to write 

People with AMD now have easier access to and utilize electronic, digital devices. These devices are being used by people to access the internet, and send texts, and emails. These gadgets may be modified to make it simpler to view and understand text and images: 

  • Select a typeface that is simple and obvious, like Arial. 
  • Never bold, italicize, or underline text. This may make it more challenging to read. 
  • Left-justify the text and set the margins. When using a magnifier, text that has been justified is simpler to read. 
  • Avoid using block caps when writing sentences; lowercase makes the text simpler to read. 
  • Avoid using columns whenever feasible since doing so slows down reading papers with a magnifier.


You can easily increase the brightness of the built-in light on Kindles and other e-readers to make reading more pleasant. 

Large Print 

Both online and via your local organization that supports people with vision loss, large print items, and reading materials are available. These items will enable you to keep reading. 

  • Large print fiction and nonfiction books are widely available in libraries. 
  • Several book titles are available in large print via RNIB Reading Services. 
  • Local and internet sight-loss organizations sell common items including kitchenware, watches, board games, playing cards, calendars, address books, calculators, and tape measures. 
  • Through RNIB and regional sight-loss organizations, a variety of publications in big print are offered; they include Sudoku and crossword puzzles. 
  • Any correspondence should be sent in the format of your choosing, including big print, by government agencies and the NHS. 

Modify the spacing 

You may change the line spacing on your electronic reading device as necessary. You may read more easily and with less eye strain by increasing the distance between lines.

Increase in Contrast

It’s crucial to make sure that the backdrop of the text being read stands out sharply from it. Because of the off-white backdrop and grey text in newspapers, there isn’t much contrast. 

You may choose between black writing on a white backdrop, white lettering on a black background, black lettering on a yellow background, and yellow lettering on a dark black background on many electronic devices to suit your demands. Choose the color contrast combination that provides the optimum contrast for the most pleasant reading experience by experimenting with the various color combinations. 

Larger Fonts 

Despite the restricted variety, you may still purchase paper books with large print. Any book may be read in “large print” with the convenience of an electronic book reader. On an electronic device, you may choose the font type and font size that will make reading the text the most comfortable for you. 

Big Screens  

Bigger screens mean bigger print. The screen on an iPhone is too tiny for any substantial reading, even if it may be a fantastic way to listen to a book. Screen sizes for electronic book readers vary from 6″ to 10″.

Professionals that deal with low vision Rehabilitation

Low vision is treated through visual rehabilitation, which requires teamwork. Your eye doctor, a low-vision expert, a vision rehabilitation instructor, and other therapists could be on your team. It’s critical to express your requirements and the things you want to be able to achieve with the assistance of low-vision devices. For instance, let them know if cooking is difficult for you because you can’t see the measuring cup’s lines. These professionals will advise you on the appropriate visual aids for your needs and show you how to use them properly.


Can you still read with (AMD) macular degeneration? 

Reading may be more challenging if you have macular degeneration. Reading might grow difficult when your eyesight deteriorates. However, you may go on reading with a few modifications. 

How does macular degeneration affect reading? 

Loss of clear vision, which makes reading challenging, is one of the most prevalent signs of macular degeneration (AMD). There may be a blur or a black area exactly in the center of one’s vision for people with a more severe stage of AMD, which further obstructs vision. 

Do magnifiers help macular degeneration?

The most basic macular degeneration vision aids are handheld magnifiers. The most economical choices are those that focus on a more narrow region, like a jeweler’s eye or resemble a “Sherlock Holmes” type magnifier, and maybe had for as little as free or as little as $30. They are good for small, quick reading tasks.  

Which reading glasses work best for macular degeneration? 

In the latter stages of macular degeneration, prismatic lenses—also known as built-in prism glasses—are employed. The path that light rays take when they approach the eye is altered by prism-based lenses. This makes it possible for light beams to bypass the macular area where AMD has caused damage. It also makes it so your eyes don’t have to converge as much due to having to hold the reading material so close.

About the Author:
Dr. Shaun Larsen

Dr. Shaun Larsen

Dr. Shaun Larsen is an optometrist who specializes in low vision services and enhancing vision with contact lenses. He has a passion for making people's lives better by helping them see well enough to read, write, or drive again. He always keeps up with the latest technology so he can help people regain their independence.


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