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Tools and Techniques for Visual Impairment

by Connie Kleinbeck, RN, BSN, CDE

  • Borin-Halbich, Inc., manufactures Safe Shot, a syringe loader that can be set once then used repeatedly to draw the same amount of insulin into the syringe each time.
  • Insul-Cap, by Palco Labs, is a plastic cap that fits over an Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, or Aventis Lantus insulin bottle and guides the syringe needle into the bottle.
  • The Ezy-Dose Injection Safety Guard is a large disk that can be placed under the stopper of an insulin vial. The user can then grip the vial without fear of an accidental needle stick.
  • NeedleAid is a tapered device that is placed on the injection site. The syringe is inserted into the device, which then guides the needle during the injection process.
  • The BD Magni-Guide snaps onto an insulin vial, guides the needle into the vial, and magnifies the syringe markings 1.7 times.
  • Ezy-Dose’s Syringe Magnifier clips onto 50-unit and 100-unit syringes, doubling the size of the markings.
  • Magnifiers worn on the head, magnifiers used for hobbies and crafts, or gooseneck magnifiers may also be useful for some people to see the markings on syringes.

    Some people who have visual impairment use insulin pumps successfully. None of the insulin pumps currently available have speech output. However, most insulin pumps have an audio bolus feature. Some insulin pumps have buttons that are easier to identify than others, and some insulin pumps have batteries that are easier to replace than others. If you wish to use an insulin pump, seek out a diabetes educator who is familiar with several models and can help you choose one you can use independently.

    Blood glucose monitoring. Checking your blood glucose can be a challenge when you have low vision. Blood glucose meters with an integrated digital voice include the Accu-Chek Voicemate System, the SensoCard Plus, the Clever Choice Auto-Code, the Fora V20, the Embrace, the Advocate Redi-Code, and the Prodigy line of monitors. (The Voicemate can “read” Lilly brand insulin vials to help with insulin identification.)

    Three meters are compatible with voice attachments. LifeScan’s OneTouch Basic and OneTouch SureStep meters can be used with the Digi-Voice voice attachment module made by Science Products. The OneTouch Basic and OneTouch Profile can be used with the LHS-7B voice attachment by LS&S Group. Both devices attach to the meter with a cable. However, even when using one of these devices, assistance from a sighted person is necessary to calibrate the meter when a batch of strips is started.

    People with some vision remaining may prefer to use a “nontalking” meter, possibly with a large display screen. Placing the meter on a nonslip mat in a contrasting color can make it more visible and help keep it from sliding around. A colored lancing device may be easier to see than a white one. Some people mark the strip insertion slot on their meter with a permanent marker to make it more visible.

    To get enough blood for an accurate reading, wash your hands under warm water to stimulate more blood flow to your fingers. Shake and hold your hand below your waist for about 15 seconds. Massage or milk the finger from base to tip to get more blood to the tip. Place a rubber band between the first and second joints of the finger to be lanced to help get a big enough drop of blood (see illustration at “Rubber Band Tourniquet Trick”). Do not use your thumbs or the index finger of the hand you write with to check blood glucose. Use a different finger for each day of the week. If you have problems finding the drop of blood, try lancing the finger in a pattern, using the fingernail as a reference point. For example, lance near the top of the right side of the fingernail at breakfast, the base of the right side of the fingernail at lunch, the top of the left side of the fingernail at supper, and the base of the left side of the fingernail at bedtime. This makes it easier to remember where the finger was lanced and locate the drop of blood.

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    Also in this article:
    Product Manufacturers and Distributors
    Rubber Band Tourniquet Trick



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    Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.



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