A Guide to Caring for Yourself When You Have Vision Loss: The Basics

By Ann S. Williams, Ph.D., RN, CDE, updated 08/22

Listen to Living with Diabetes and Visual Impairment—General Information Audio (audio not updated)

Diabetes care is almost entirely managed by the person who has it. If you’ve lived with diabetes for any length of time, then you know there is no negotiating its demands. Day after day, you alone determine when and what to eat and how much to exercise. It’s up to you to remember when to take your medication, how often to check your blood glucose level, and what to do if your blood sugar levels are too high or too low.

Successful management of diabetes—even under the most ideal circumstances—requires great discipline, not to mention specific knowledge, skills, and tools for self-care. When vision loss enters the picture—as it frequently does as the disease advances—there’s yet another level of complication and risk added to your treatment regimen.

Perhaps you’re one of the 7.7 million Americans 40 years of age and older now living with both conditions—an occurrence that will grow even more common as the nation’s retirement-aged population increases. This number will likely increase to approximately 11 million people by 2030. If so, then you’ve also had to confront the frustrating fact that a great deal of diabetes equipment is still designed with the assumption that the user will be able to see enough detail to use it properly. 

The good news is that for the last few decades many diabetes care professionals, equipment manufacturers, and people with visual impairment have been working tirelessly to address these challenges. The result is that, today, there are more viable, accessible resources and techniques to help people with visual impairments manage their diabetes than ever before. Find out more about these devices in our diabetes section.

Innovations in Self-Care

The Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES) has developed and copyrighted the ADCES 7 Self-Care Behaviors™, a set of lifestyle changes that are necessary to manage diabetes effectively. In this section, you will find a helpful overview of these behaviors, along with information on how they can be adapted to address the onset of vision loss.  Find out more about these AADE 7 self-care behaviors in our guide to living with diabetes and vision loss.