People who experience a lot of pain caused by severe dry eyes can make life more comfortable by using some of the products available for people with impaired vision. Here are some options:
- Read large-print books
- Listen to books on tape
- Configure a more readable computer
- Place the monitor so that you look down at it
- Work on a talking computer
Although many people with severe dry eye can see 20:20 on an eye exam (either with or without glasses), in practical terms, they often don't actually see as clearly as someone with healthy eyes. Insufficient tear film on the eye can make vision fluctuate. In addition, mucous can interfere with vision, as can various eye drops and ointments.
If you like to read a lot for recreation, visit the large-print section of your local public library. If your library has only a few large-print books, ask the librarian how to find lists of large-print books and then how to order them through the inter-library loan service.
People in the U.S. who have visual or physical limitations may check out books-on-tape for free from the Library of Congress. Contrary to popular assumption, this service is not only for people who are blind or legally blind. It is also for people who have a physical disability, whether visual or of some other type, that makes reading problematical. (If you live in another country, ask your librarian if a similar service exists in your country.)
In addition to a large number of books for light reading, such as mysteries, the library also has a great many books about history, biography, computers, and many other topics.
This section describes:
The following table explains how to contact your local branch of the Library of Congress (LOC) and get permission to access their books on tape.
|Find local LOC & request form||
|Ask doctor to fill out form||
Take the "application for service" form to your eye doctor and ask him or her to certify that you have a physical problem.
If dry eye pain or other dry eye symptoms interfere with your ability to read, your doctor can check the option "Reading Disabled: Persons having a reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction and of sufficient severity to prevent their reading printed material in a normal manner."
Here are some examples:
|Ask regional LOC library for tape player||
After your doctor has filled out the "application for service" form, take it (or mail it) to the regional LOC libary in your state and ask them to loan you a tape player and to allow you to request LOC books-on-tape.
The regional LOC library loans out a special tape player that you can use to listen to their specially formatted 4-track tapes. You can also change the setting to 2-track and use this tape player to listen to regular books on tape, such as those you can check out from your local town library.
The following tables describes some options for buying a tape player.
|Player Type||Possible Vendor|
|2-track (standard)||To listen to tapes you get from your local library or buy commercially, buy any standard tape player.|
|4-track (portable and standard size)||The 4-track tape player that you can get for free
from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (if
your doctor fills out the form described above) is too large to carry with
you easily. You can buy a portable tape player that can play both regular books
on tape and Library of Congress (4-track) books on tape.
Buy one of the following tape players only if you have permission to use Library of Congress 4-track tapes. Otherwise, for books-on-tape available from your local town library, use any ordinary tape player.
This section describes a few tips to help make your computer easier on your eyes (for PCs running the Windows operating system; for information about the Unix operating system or about Mac computers, see their Help topics).
|Software||Tips to Make More Readable|
|Windows — Vision Wizard||Run the Windows XP Accessibility Wizard:
|Windows — Display||Change display size by using Windows settings:
|3rd Party Screen Magnifier||Change display size by installing a third-party screen magnifier:|
|Internet Explorer — Text Size||Enlarge text size when working in Internet Explorer:
|Word — Onscreen Text||Enlarge screen text size in Word:
|Eliminate bright-white background in Word:
According to the article "Dry eyes and video display terminals," published by K. Tsubota and K. Nakamori in the February 28, 1993, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, looking at a computer monitor for prolonged periods of time can dry the surface of the eye. If you already have dry eyes, this can increase dry eye pain. The article recommends decreasing "the exposed ocular surface area ... by placing the [computer] terminal at a lower height, with the screen tilted upward."
One way to accomplish this is to buy an adjustable-height table and an adjustable-height monitor arm from an office supply store.
A more expensive and more complicated option is to buy a special desk built to hold a slanting, recessed monitor. For this latter option, go to Closet-Masters.com, and then click "Nova Desk Solutions."
If you can afford it, you can get a "talking" computer. With the right equipment, you can type with your eyes closed. Because the computer speaks the words as you type, you will know if you typed the words correctly. Even typing only a few minutes out of each hour with your eyes closed can increase the total amount of time you can function productively during the course of the day. In addition, you can close your eyes while having the computer read documents or e-mail to you.
If you buy a scanner, you can also scan in documents, such as letters, newsletters, or books, and have the computer read the documents to you.
For this to work, in addition to a computer, you must have the following adaptive equipment:
- Screen Reader A screen reader, such as JAWS for Windows, Windows Eyes, outSPOKEN for Windows, outSPOKEN for Mac, or (for DOS) Vocal-Eyes. For a list of more screen readers, search for "screen readers" on the Product Search page of the American Federation for the Blind at Afb.org/prodSearch.asp.
- Speech Synthesizer A speech synthesizer, such as DECtalk, Accent, Doubletalk, or Triple-Talk. (JAWS for Windows now includes its own speech synthesizer, which uses your computer's sound card to speak.) For a list of more speech synthesizers, search for "synthesizer" on the Product Search page of the American Federation for the Blind at Afb.org/prodSearch.asp.
- Scanner (optional) A scanner, such as an HP scanner. You can buy a scanner at an office supply store, such as OfficeDepot.com, Staples.com, or Quill.com.
If you are computer savvy, you can buy the necessary equipment separately and add it to your existing computer. If you are not computer savvy, you can buy a computer already set up with adaptive technology integrated into it. Two sources for this type of technology (both also provide training) are the following:
- Freedom Scientific Blind/Low Vision Group Click the Products & Services link, click the icon for Software, and then click Screen Reading to find information about JAWS for Windows, which you can use to make a computer running Windows into a talking computer without having to buy a separate speech synthesizer.
- Beyond Sight Click Catalog, and then click LapTalk, DeskTalk and Custom Computer Systems for information about their computers. If you buy, for example, their Beyond Sight Standard Desktop Computer and also buy either JAWS for Windows or Windows-Eyes (another screen reader), the store will install and configure the screen reader software as well as the standard computer software.