Tips for overcoming eyesight trouble to safely manage your medicines

17 January 2011

Many people find their eyesight deteriorates as they get older, which can make it difficult to read the small print on medicine labels. This in turn can make it harder to manage your medicines, leading to medicine mix ups and subsequent health problems.

The latest issue of MedicinesTalk, published by NPS, includes tips for identifying and storing medicines, and sourcing accurate information to help make life easier for people with eyesight problems.

“Vision deterioration can occur slowly, so its immediate effects on everyday life may not be evident. Blurred or impaired vision can however make it difficult to identify medicines and read small print so it’s important people know how to manage their medicines safely,” said NPS CEO, Dr Lynn Weekes.

Checking your medicines in a place with good lighting and using a magnifying glass to read the medicine label can help prevent accidental mix ups.

Being organised can help make things less confusing. Keep all your medicines in one place and group the same medicines together with an elastic band or using a colour-coding system.

Your pharmacist can also help you to manage your medicines. Ask them to give you the same brand of medicine each time so that the shape and size of the packaging won’t change. They can also print the medicine information leaflet in larger font so it’s easier to read.

Pharmacists can also help with medication organisers, or dose administration aids, which are daily or weekly pill boxes that store each dose of your medicine in a separate compartment that is clearly labelled according to the day or time it should be taken. There are a number of different organisers available so make sure you buy one that is easy to use, is large enough to store all your medicines and where you can clearly read the labels,

”If you have trouble reading medicine labels, ask your pharmacist about a blister pack medication organiser. These are weekly medication organisers prepared by your pharmacist and store each dose of your medicines in an individual blister or bubble. There is usually a small charge but they are useful for people who are struggling to manage their medicines,” Dr Weekes said.

There are also devices now available to help people with little or no vision identify items like groceries, clothing and medicines. These include small barcode scanners and audio labellers, which can store a voice recording of your medicine which is read out when you point the device at its container. Ask a friend or relative to help you purchase these online from Vision Australia at www.visionaustralia.org.au or phone 1300 847 466.

Also in this edition of MedicinesTalk:

  • Seeing the back of back pain
  • Are you as healthy as your car?
  • Umbrella brand names: buyer beware

To view the articles go to www.nps.org.au/consumers/publications/medicines_talk

ENDS

Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit,NPS enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests.We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.