We have pulled together some ideas about how to manage medications and health conditions if you are blind or partially sighted. We are not medical professionals, so if you have any questions of a medical nature it is always best to seek advice from your medical practitioner or condition specialist. All the ideas below have been gathered from blind and partially sighted people. If you have any tips or tricks for managing medication, we want to hear them, and we will do our best to pass ideas onto others in the blind and partially sighted community.

Ask for help

The London Vision team is focussed on empowering blind and partially sighted people and enabling their independence, but sometimes it’s quicker and simpler to seek help from those around you. So, don’t struggle to sort through medications and instructions if you don’t feel great and don’t have too. If you haven’t got anyone to hand then you might like to try the Be My Eyes app where you link to a volunteer via your smart phone. They will be able to read instructions, identify tablets or help with measuring medicines. You’ll find Be My Eyes in the Google Play store or Apple’s app store. Alternatively, you could call a friend through WhatsApp or FaceTime and ask for a little sighted assistance from someone you know well.

Instructions 

When you first receive your medications from the chemist ask them to read the instructions to you. You could even make a recording of instructions as they are explained to you, but you do this, you must ask permission first! You can make recordings on your phone, small digital recording devices or something like a talking tin lid (a small cheap gadget available from RNIB and others which will record about up to maximum of 40 seconds of speech); you can also ask your pharmacy for large print instructions if you think that this will help. You can find details on the internet about the medicines you are taking and side effects if you are unable to read the leaflets enclosed in the box. A friend or relative might be able to write simple instructions for you in large clear felt tip pen.

Apps like Seeing AI can read most of the instructions for you. The Voice Dream Scanner is also straightforward to use and again the Be My Eyes app can be used to read text.

Organisation and labelling

It is possible for your pharmacist to provide you with prepacked and ordered medications on request, if you prefer. Cobolt Systems, RNIB and IC Vision (formerly SW Retail) have differing pill dispensers, some which talk and include reminder alarms, and others marked with tactile markings or clear large print.  Before filling these devices ask your pharmacist for their opinion on their use.  Depending on the quantity of medication you are prescribed you can slice corners of packaging to make it feel different, mark with bright labels or felt tip pens. Large print calendars or diaries can allow you to keep a record of pills taken. Try VIP Diaries. Keep your medications in one place so you can find them quickly and easily. Elastic bands, ribbons or hair ties can all be used to distinguish bottles or packages.

Smart speakers

Smart speakers allow you to set alarms and reminders quickly and easily.

Opening packets

Tools are available for opening blister packages. These are known as pill removers.

Dropping and finding tablets

Tablets are fiddly and slippery and fall between fingers. Open the package above a plate or bowl so that if they fall you can easily find them.

 

Liquid medicines

Use syringes to measure the prescribed amount and use different size syringes to avoid the need to partially fill the syringe. Measuring spoons are available from most cooking shops or from RNIB. If you want to measure larger amounts of liquid you can use Tacti Mark to mark measurements on a measuring jug. Tacti Mark is available from the RNIB. It is squeezed from a tube and sets hard so you can feel it. A permanent marker might provide a visible clue. Talking measuring jugs are available from RNIB, Cobolt systems and IC Vision.

Taking your temperature

It’s very unlikely that you’ll get an accurate reading by using a scanning app to read your thermometer, so again we would recommend the Be My Eyes app. Talking thermometers are available and many with clear and easy to see digital displays.

Eye drops 

Many of us need to use eye drops from time to time. If you have a condition like glaucoma, it’s essential that you follow the advice from your ophthalmologist. Take a look at the International Glaucoma Association’s video on applying eye drops. There are a variety of gadgets available to help with eye drops such as the auto drop dispenser, available from RNIB and IC Vision, however, before you buy an aid to help with your drops chat to your pharmacist as they may be able to provide you with one.

Long term conditions

If you need to measure your blood pressure or blood sugar levels then there are talking gadgets to help, however, it is best to get medical advice before purchasing to check that the technology will meet your needs. If you have diabetes check with your nurse who will advise you on the best way to monitor your blood sugar levels. Large print diaries, mobile technologies and smart speakers are ways of keeping records of your blood sugar levels. Take a look at the Diabetes UK website for more information about diabetic retinopathy.  

Please send comments thoughts and suggestions to: [email protected]  

London Vision recognises that the availability of pharmacist support and talking thermometers may be restricted due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.