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If you’ve been diagnosed with geographic atrophy (GA), you can still keep your home clean and cook the foods you love. Here are some tips to help you keep things running smoothly. 

First, Set Yourself Up for Success

Get organized. Create a home for everything, and then keep everything in its place. Group similar items together. Keep them close to where you use them. For example, keep cooking utensils in a canister or drawer near your cooktop.

Label everything. Make kitchen items with unclear labels easier to identify. Use large-print labels, color-coded tabs or tape, or tactile markers like bump dots that you can identify by touch. You can also wrap a rubber band around an item resembling something else, like a milk carton or juice container, so it’s easy to tell the difference.

Gather what you need. When you’re ready to cook, put all your ingredients and utensils on a tray so everything you need is at your fingertips. If you need to clean your home, pop your cleansers, paper towels, and gloves into a bucket you can carry around with you.

Tips for Cooking

Having low vision doesn’t have to stop you from cooking the things you love or trying out new recipes. These tips and techniques can help you cook safely.

Have a wet towel nearby. Use a damp dish towel to wipe your fingers as you cook. It helps you stay clean and cuts down on trips to the sink.

Get contrasting cutting boards. If you’re cutting something dark, use a light-colored cutting board. For light-colored foods, use a dark board. The contrast may help you see better.

Contain mess and items in trays. Make spills easy to manage by measuring, slicing, and mixing things on a tray. Use another tray for utensils you’re done with so it’s easy to take them to the sink for cleaning.

Use your other senses when pouring. Feel the spout of the container you’re pouring from. Touch it to the inside rim of the container you’re pouring into and keep it touching as you pour. Listen to the sound of the liquid. When it fades out, it’s almost full. For cold liquids, put your finger over the rim and stop pouring when you feel liquid on your fingertip.

Make measuring easier. Put bump dots or tape on glass measuring cups so you don’t have to struggle to read each measurement. Create a contrasting background behind the glass. Nest your measuring cups and spoons, and then memorize them so you can pull out the one you need without having to read it.

Try scooping instead of pouring. Need to measure a liquid ingredient? Put it in a wide-mouth container and scoop out what you need with a measuring spoon or cup. This way, you don’t have to pour liquid into small containers.

Prevent boiling water splashes. Don’t wait for water to boil before adding pasta or rice to a pot. It might take a few minutes longer to cook. To stop water from boiling over, apply cooking oil around the rim of the pot or put a wooden spoon across the top.

Choose a good knife or chopper. Choose a knife that’s the right size and type for what you’re slicing. Look for a knife with a safety sheath to keep the blade covered. A food chopper with a cup, blade, and lid can make chopping and dicing easier and safer. Try an electric food chopper for herbs, garlic, and onions.

Cut like a champ. When you cut meat, feel where the edge is with a fork, and then line the knife up behind the fork to start cutting. To cut round foods like potatoes or onions, slice them in half first so there’s a flat surface touching your cutting board.

Try safety gloves. Look for cut-resistant gloves, also known as butchers’ gloves. They’re thin enough to move your fingers freely while protecting you from getting cut. Try them when you cut, peel, or grate ingredients.

Store knives safely. Anything with a sharp blade needs extra care. If it has a safety cover, use it. If it doesn’t, make sure you don’t have an exposed blade in a place where you may touch it without realizing. Try storing knives in the back of your cabinet. In the dishwasher, face the points down.

Swap knives with scissors. You can cut a lot of things with scissors instead of knives, such as pizza or food packages, and they might be safer.

Label appliance settings. Put a bump dot sticker, puff paint, or piece of Velcro on the setting you use most. Try it on your microwave, stove top, oven, and dishwasher. 

Tips for Cleaning

Making a few adjustments can help you keep your home in tip-top condition.

Have a supply zone. Keep all your cleaning supplies in one storage closet or area, so it’s easy to find what you need.

Make it mobile. Make it easy to tote your supplies to different areas of your home by using a basket, tote, bucket, or cart. An apron with pockets is a good place to keep the one or two things you’ll use most, such as an all-purpose cleaning spray and a roll of paper towels.

Use your hands. Instead of using a cloth, try dusting with your hands. Simply wear soft cotton gloves or socks to get a solid sense of what you’re dusting.

Use a grid system. When you wipe a flat surface like a countertop, table, or window, a grid technique may prevent you from missing a spot. First, wipe up and down. Then, wipe left to right. Try a grid system for your house, too. Divide rooms into sections, and clean each section in a grid pattern.

Plug in with care. Install contrasting light switches and wall outlet covers to make them easier to see. When you plug something in, put two fingers around the electrical outlet plate, and use your other hand to guide the electrical plug into the outlet.

Shed light on your appliances. Mark your vacuum dials with bump dots or colored tape. Make sure you have good task lighting. Try using LED lights, which are energy-efficient. Put a shade around your light to cut back on glare. Try a hand-held magnifier to see things better.

Show Sources

Photo Credit: FatCamera / Getty Images


American Printing House for the Blind (APH), Connect Center, VisionAware: “Cuttin’ Up in the Kitchen,” “Cooking, Cleaning, and COVID-19.”

The Lighthouse for the Blind: “8 Tips for Adjusting to Household Tasks with Low Vision.”

Perkins School for the Blind: “Eight cooking tips for people who are visually impaired.”

Wisconsin Department of Health Services: “OBVI: Tips for Living With Low Vision.”