How Should You Work with Tools If You Have Low Vision?

Keep in mind that 20/20 vision is a must for work safety, efficiency and productivity. Be sure to check the lighting and use a low vision device, if you have low vision issues. Your prompt and appropriate action will have a positive impact on your life, too.


Importance of Vision

The importance of 20/20 vision for carpenters and the like cannot be overemphasized. When you’re working with manual and power tools, you should see what you’re working on. Otherwise, your risks for injuries will increase.

The importance of 20/20 vision for carpenters and the like cannot be overemphasized. When you’re working with manual and power tools, you should see what you’re working on. Otherwise, your risks for injuries will increase.

woman working on PC

But what is vision? It is the ability to see people, places and things with clear perception of their details. These include colors, characteristics and contrasts. Without it, you cannot work well in a workshop setting with power and manual tools as the main equipment.

Check the Lighting First

If you’re beginning to see things less clearly, then you may have vision issues. But emphasis should be made that it may or may not be the root cause. You should first check the lighting in the entire workshop and in specific work areas first.

You may be squinting not because of low vision but because of poor lighting. You may also have difficulty distinguishing between two small objects for this reason.

In a workshop setting, the lighting should be enough for people to work well. People should also be able to use the facilities and move between places without eye strain.


The individual workstations should also have adequate lighting. This is especially true for precision tasks, such as electronics. Both the general and individual areas should be well-lighted for their specific purposes. A few of the lighting options available are:

  • Fluorescent overhead fixtures are suitable for overhead lighting. These can be mounted on the ceiling but away from walls for an even light over the entire area.
  • Under-cabinet lighting fixtures are great underneath cabinets and shelves. These can illuminate specific parts of the work surface, especially for detailed work.
  • Track lighting fixtures are suitable for illuminating particular areas. These also provide overhead lighting for large area. These come in two types – flood bulbs and spot bulbs.Flood bulbs light larger areas. Spot bulbs focus concentrated light on particular areas. Both types are individual lights that can be redirected.
  • Portable floodlights are great for lighting specific jobs. These provide bright illumination, as well as adjustable in direction and height. These are also suitable for installation in out-of-the-way and awkward spaces.

You can also ask your co-users or co-workers about their vision-related experiences at work. You may or may not be alone in issues related to poor lighting in the workshop.

Check for Signs of Low Vision

If workspace lighting systems are adequate, you should consider the possibility of low vision. While an ophthalmologist is the best person for this job, you can also look out for these signs.

  • Do you have difficulty in recognizing the faces of your family and friends?
  • Do you have to see things up close just to distinguish their characteristics? These include reading and writing, fixing things, and choosing colored clothes.
  • Do you feel that the lights appear dimmer than usual? Yet your family and friends don’t have such an experience.
  • Do you have difficulty reading labels on products and tools? You didn’t have these issues before.
Myopic Glasses For Low Vision

If you answered “yes” to most or all the questions, then you probably have low vision issues. You have to perform these steps to resolve it as soon as possible:

  • Have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist. Your eyes may have an underlying injury or illness that requires prompt action.
  • Inform your supervisor, if any, about your vision-related issues. You can request for appropriate measures for your safety and performance. You may, for example, ask about better lighting in your work area.
  • Read about your eye condition based on the ophthalmologist’s definitive diagnosis. You can take control of your eye-related issues by being more informed about it. Your actions can include using the right low vision device, as well as getting the right training.

The Bottom Line: You have so many factors under your control relative to low vision. You must take control together with your ophthalmologist and employer, if any.

Tips for Those Having Low Vision

  • Wear Glasses: This is the primary and most practical solution. For reading, writing, driving etc. you should wear the eyeglasses prescribed by your doctor. However you can’t wear glasses if you’re working with tools because you’ll be wearing safety goggles. In that case you can do the following.
  • Adequate Lighting: make sure your workspace has adequate lighting. Aside from overhead fixtures, install a task light near your work table. The room and the entire work area should be bright with little to no shadows. You don’t want the light so bright it hurts your eyes, but never do tool work in poorly lit environments.
  • Position lamps and work lights near your workplace. Adjust your lamp’s brightness to prevent glare. Set the lamp by your side rather than in front so the light illuminates without causing glare. Consider putting two lamps on each side so they’re evenly lit.
  • If you’re taking notes or making technical drawings, set the light on the side opposite of the hand you’re using to write. You’ll need to make some adjustments until you find the right angle that illuminates what you’re doing.
  • Prevent Glare: the best way to prevent glare is to cover the bulb with some kind of shade like sheer curtains or blinds. There are also specially designed lamps with anti-glare properties, so consider those. Another method is to arrange your table and chair so you don’t have to stare into the light directly.
  • Work with matte and non-reflective surfaces. Glossy and shiny surfaces reflect light and increase glare.
  • Don’t use colored lights. Go with white as they’re the easiest on your eyes. Make sure the lighting is LED as they last longer than other types of lights. They’re just as bright but don’t emit heat.
  • Protect yourself at all times. Even with adequate lighting you should always be careful when hammering nails or cutting objects.
low vision

If you have to work in tight locations, bring along plenty of lights to illuminate the place. Arrange the light fixtures so the walls, floors, railings and steps are lit up.

No matter where you work, the lighting has to be bright and even. You should also give your eyes time to adjust to the lights before starting any work.

Other Ways to Work with Tools If You Have Poor Vision

  • Use a digital measure tool. They’re a bit more expensive than manual measuring tools, but they’re automatic and accurate. A laser measure for instance, just requires you to press a button and the measurement is displayed in an easy to read screen.
  • Use contrasting colors in your workplace. This is going to make it easier to identify objects and items around you.
  • Add labels to everything. Write large bold letters for containers, packages and other items you use for storage. Keep nuts, bolts, screws and other items in separate containers so they’re easy to find.
  • Keep a clean workspace. Return the tools you use back to where you took them. A clean workspace means you don’t have to pull your hair – and strain your eyes – trying to remember where you put those nails.
  • Increase the Font Size: if you’re working with CAD design or using a CNC machine, increase the font size so it’s easy to read. The standard size for large fonts is 18 points. You may need a larger or smaller font depending on your eyesight.
man with low vision

No matter what you need, you can adjust the font size on your computer so you don’t have to squint while reading. Avoid highlighting words with vivid colors and markers because they make the text harder to read.

As we have pointed out, you should increase the contrast between the font and background for easier reading.

Final Words

Just because you have poor eyesight doesn’t mean you can’t do construction or DIY work. It might be difficult at first, but using the right techniques you’ll be able to work efficiently. All it takes is some discipline and you can be as productive as those with normal vision.

We hope the information here will help you deal with this condition. No matter what kind of work you do, there’s no reason why having poor eyesight should be a hindrance to your daily living.

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