Good Hope, Heartlands, and Solihull Eye Clinics

Coping with loss of vision in one eye

Jayne Kempster,
David Kinshuck

Time to adjust

Adjusting to the loss of some vision in one eye takes time and practice: the advice below may help a little. Some tasks, like pouring tea, or sewing, do become a challenge. But after a while you will be able to cope better and better.


Myths about the use of one good eye

Using your one good eye will not damage it in any way. Sitting close to the TV, reading, or using your eye for hobbies will not harm it. In particular, it does no harm to sit close to the television, sit as close as is necessary to see best. The same applies when using a computer screen.


The other eye

Having only one good eye does not strain the good eye at all. But when you read, you may only be able to read for perhaps 15 minutes before developing tired achy eyes, or headache. You then need to rest, and then start again later, over and over again if need be. Many patients attending the eye clinic can only read for 15-30 minutes at time. Reading is naturally easier with large print books, or using large text size on your computer.


Will new glasses help if you have one healthy eye?

For distance vision, an optometrist (optician) cannot fundamentally improve your sight. Sometimes spectacles may improve your distant sight.
For close work, an optician will aim to provide spectacles that focus at the distance for your particular requirements. Generally the closer you hold a book to your eyes the larger the print appears, and an optician can provide glasses that focus books etc closer to your eyes.
However, it is always best to try your old spectacles first: it will do no harm to use your old spectacles. But remember, spectacles only focus at one distance. Musicians or painters for instance may need a second pair of spectacles that focus at a distance slightly further away


Some tips for reading more easily

  • Hold the book or paper in front of the one good eye.
  • Move the book or paper you are reading, rather than your eye. This takes practice, but with practice you will adjust your eye and head movements automatically.
  • You need a good light, such as an anglepoise light. This is a desk type light, with a reflector that is not transparent. The reflector needs to shine all the light on the book or paper, and none in your eye. This is like reading with the sun behind you. Having a bright light on the ceiling is not particularly helpful.

If you follow this advice, and reading is still difficult, you need to see an optician familiar with patients with poor vision, or attend the Low Vision Clinic. It may take some time to learn new reading techniques, and the difficulties increase as you get older.


Advice from an optometrist expert in low vision

You really need individual advice from the optician in the eye clinic, or any another low vision expert. The options include:

  • extra strong spectacles
  • holding the object closer to you
  • special telescopic spectacles for reading or television
  • various magnifying glasses

These are not ideal for reading for long periods as they are tiring to use. There are magnifying glasses specially for sewing, or reading very small print for example. Some patients may find electronic aids like special TV cameras and computers helpful.

Computers can even 'read' books aloud, and input what you say. A large screen may help. Talking books are available, and there is a service specially for people with poor sight, our Low Vision Clinic.



In the UK you are legally allowed to drive a car with only one good eye. If you have lost the vision suddenly it takes time to adjust, and three months is the accepted period. Notify the Driving Authority (the DVLA in the UK). You will need to move your head more to compensate for the loss of vision on one side.


Looking after the other eye

This depends on the cause of the problem in the bad eye. If you have had problems identified in the clinic, such as high blood pressure, these need to be treated by your General Practitioner. Generally the UK Department of Health recommend

  • 30 minutes exercise a day
  • no smoking
  • a diet with minimal animal fat & dairy food
  • low in salt
  • a minimum of five portions of vegetables or fruit a day, with high fibre foods
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Useful addresses

If the central part of your sight is damaged, the Macular Society may help: