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Living with a visual impairment

My child has just been diagnosed with a visual impairment, what do we do now?

When your child is diagnosed with a visual impairment it can be a difficult and overwhelming time. We aim to answer as many questions as possible at your appointment, however it is likely that when you leave the hospital you will have many unanswered questions and concerns.

You may be referred to a specialist visual impairment team who make home visits and go into schools to help children and their families or teachers make the most of the level of vision the child has.

There are lots of adaptations you can make in your home to ensure a safer and more accessible environment for your child.

Below are some examples of simple adjustments which may make daily life easier for a child with a visual impairment.


Contrast is how much something appears to stand out from its background because of its colour or shade.

Image showing a dark and light rectangle with a contrasting lighter rectangle in the centre of each

Some tips include:

  • use bright coloured plates and cups to increase contrast or use a bright coloured table cloth with white plates.
  • get bright coloured door handles and light switches. If this is not possible, try placing a bright label or sticker over the switch to make them more noticeable.
  • bathrooms tend to be very pale coloured. Use bright coloured accessories such as soaps and toothbrushes so they stand out more and are easier to see.


The amount of lighting can be very important to help a person with a sight impairment to make the most of their vision. Some tips include:

  • adjustable lamps allow you to point the light at the object you are looking at. This is useful for activities like reading.
  • some lamp shades can reduce the light or restrict it from reaching areas making tasks more difficult.
  • it is very important to have good lighting near potentially dangerous areas such as stair cases. Stair gates should be used with young children to avoid accidents.
  • use high wattage bulbs or LED lights where possible.
  • dimmer switches are useful to control the level of lighting. Some children with certain visual problems can find bright lights uncomfortable.


Bigger things are generally easier to see than smaller things. Some tips include:

  • clocks with large faces and numbers will make telling the time easier.
  • thick tip pens for writing notes will make reading less difficult.
  • larger print in books or increasing font size on phones, computers and tablets is useful.
  • allow your child to sit close to the TV. This will not damage the eyes, although it is recommended to take regular breaks from looking at a screen.

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Eye Department on 0114 271 7468.

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Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.

Resource number: EYE56

Resource Type: Article

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