I have severe diplopia, or double vision that is not corrected by glasses as the result of an eye muscle condition and a brain condition. Double vision is one of the most significant elements of my experience living with low vision, as it has a tremendous impact on my ability to read and access information, but it isn’t something that is frequently talked about when designing for low vision. Here is how I use assistive technology for double vision, and tools and strategies for living with double vision.
For some people, double vision may be corrected by prescription eyeglasses or prisms, though there are some cases where glasses do not completely correct the double vision, or someone’s vision may fluctuate. In my case, my prescription eyeglasses do not fully correct my double vision, and my vision gets worse if I am tired or dealing with pain. I’ve had three surgeries that have helped to improve my double vision over the years, but it is something I will likely always live with.
Double vision can affect people in different ways. Some people see two separate images side-by-side, while others might view one image as the shadow of another image, or have the images stacked on top of each other. For me, my double vision is more like the “shadow” version, where the mirrored image is often at an angle and blends into the original image. I created a simulation of what this looks like in PicsArt, a process which I outline in the post linked below.
With double vision, words and lines often run into each other, making it difficult to tell when one word or line ends and another begins. Large print and increased text/word spacing make it easier for me to read print materials, as it is easier for me to distinguish letters and words when they are in a larger size with more space between them. Another option is to use text-to-speech to read text out loud, or to pair text-to-speech with reading text to improve reading comprehension.
Some of my favorite tools for reading with double vision include:
I spend a lot of time writing in a variety of contexts, including taking notes, texting, and writing for my blog and other projects, and have adjusted my writing workflow over the years to make it easier for me to write and edit with double vision. I often use large text sizes when I am reading or proofreading, or will listen to what I have written with text-to-speech to catch mistakes, since I may have trouble catching misspellings of words or missing punctuation.
Other assistive technology tools that help me with the authoring process include:
In addition to double vision, I also have no depth perception, reduced peripheral vision, and blurry vision, and also have trouble seeing items that are more than a few feet away from me. As a result, I use a blindness cane when I am navigating unfamiliar environments, as it helps me safely detect obstacles. However, many people with double vision do not use blindness canes, though they can still benefit from orientation and mobility strategies and designing for low vision.
Some examples of ways to improve independent travel and orientation and mobility for people with double vision include:
I’ve had disability accommodations for low vision since I was in kindergarten, though my teachers and family didn’t really understand how my double vision impacted me until I was older and found a better way to explain it. For example, I remember being confused that my teacher would say I colored outside of the lines consistently, when to me it looked like I was coloring inside the lines of the mirrored image. I have several posts about disability accommodations for low vision on my website, as well as linked below.
Some examples of classroom accommodations for double vision might include:
I’ve adapted my living spaces in a few different ways to accommodate for double vision, and to make it easier to complete independent living tasks. One of the biggest things for me is the use of color as a way of distinguishing various objects, and I try to make sure that items like furniture and cooking tools pop against various surfaces, so that it is easier for me to identify objects.
Some home adaptations and design choices I’ve made with double vision in mind include:
By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes, www.veroniiiica.com
Updated August 2023; original post published July 2017
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