How to help yourself or others with vision impairment during a disaster
It is possible that during a disaster or crisis, something could happen that would affect our ability to see clearly. All of the info that follows is worth reviewing and learning. Vision impairment could happen during a disaster to ourselves or family member.
One of the main things we can do is keep our hands scrupulously clean when putting our hands near our eyes for any reason. This will help prevent infection.
Never break a sty. It will spread infection rapidly. It is okay per my physician to use a warm tea bag and apply it as a poultice to the eye. Let it sit and it will draw the sty out and reduce it naturally.
If you stock emergency eye ointment or drops or use any kind of eye medication, never use them past it’s best by date. This is from my pharmacist who stressed eye medications are “different” and that we must never go beyond the date indicated on the tube or container. He said that there are no exceptions to this rule. If we do this, we could create a much worse situation.
Prevent blindness has a nice two page sheets on eye safety during disaster.
We might sustain an eye injury to one or both eyes. Subsequently, we may have changed vision or very low to no vision. Safety goggles in our EDC and BOB can help protect our eyes from unexpected hazards.
The first thing I considered is how to prepare for that possibility or scenario.
There is a place for everything and everything in its place mentality in my home. This way the mental visual map that we have is intact in case of an emergency. Nothing is left out as a trip hazard and this also helps prevent falls.
I familiarized myself with the interior of my home so that I could move in the dark and with eyes closed for additional realism.
I wanted to ensure that in case of a security breach that I could move with stealth in total darkness without stubbing my toe or banging into something and giving away my position or losing the element of surprise with an assailant(s).
There was a need to teach this to my husband who has two types of glaucoma. In the early days the prognosis for his vision was poor. It was then I began to think of ways we could adapt his orientation in the house while he still had vision. He also trained and learned to move in the dark.
He is now off the medication that impacted his vision and triggered the glaucoma, and after two surgeries his vision is stable. He won’t regain the peripheral and horizon vision he lost, but his condition is now stable.
His skill is there if his vision declines and in a security situation he can now move with the same stealth in the dark. He rarely turns a light on at night now.
It may not be a break in that triggers the need to move in the dark. Nothing is infallible. If my smoke detector fails, I could wake up to thick, acrid smoke burning my eyes and become vision impaired while there is an urgent need to escape a fire.
That actually happened to a person I know. She barely escaped with her cat by crawling on her knees. She was unable to see because the smoke caused her eyes to burn and tear very badly. She related to me how terrified she was and that she could hardly breathe. But, she stayed calm and focussed on remembering the mental map from her bedroom to the entrance door and she was able to escape.
Our glasses, including the spare pair in our home or BOB, may become damaged or lost. How do we cope then?
Here is a trailing technique from visionaware.org. They also have other very good suggestions and tips for persons living with vision impairment.
The blind guide also offers excellent disaster safety tips for blindness or visual impairment:
If our vision is impaired by something, we can use a very rudimentary tool made by our hand. Remember when as kids you would curl your hand like a telescope or pirate spyglass? Well, there is a technique like that which can help for loss of vision or visual aids like glasses. I have used this many times when I went to a store and forgot my glasses. It really does work (and you get to look like a cool pirate while you’re doing it).
In an emergency, this is a good method to know.
Here’s a link showing how it’s done:
From Discovery Science – How to improve your vision using just your hands
I prefer to have multiple pairs of extra reading glasses spanning 2.0 through to 2.75. I use two different strengths and the extras are to offer to someone in need.
Rather than keep one extra pair, I keep 2 extra sets of the different strengths of glasses.
I also include several pairs of back up sunglasses, including yellow lenses for fog driving, in my prepping.
I also have several types of magnifying glasses and magnifying sheets to use for reading instructions or other important info in a crisis.
This is a type of magnifying eye wear that I plan to add to my preps that would allow for use for other crisis related tasks such as a cleaning wound properly:
I found an eye glass repair kit at a local hardware store. It is worth keeping several of these per eyeglass wearing person in your household.
This is similar to the small kit I found locally. There are larger kits available on Amazon.
Also how to repair glasses from
We might also encounter someone who is vision impaired, with or without a guide dog. How can we best offer assistance to that person and, if accompanied by one, their service dog?
Here is some information on that subject from the fighting blindness website that teaches how to interact with someone who is vision impaired and offer assistance in the correct way:
Vision impairment can also affect hand/eye coordination skills. The following two websites offer drills and games to improve that function:
and also from this site:
If anyone can think of other ideas to help protect our eyes during a disaster or tools to help protect our vision and repair glasses, please fee free to add to the list.