Cooking and baking are more challenging, and even dangerous–if you have poor vision. People with correctable eye problems can simply wear contact lenses or prescription glasses while working in the kitchen, but it’s a different story for people who are losing their vision. And although retina treatment can significantly slow down the loss of vision, it is unlikely that low vision problems can be reversed.
Nevertheless, having a low vision or even being blind should not stop someone from doing what they love. Although it might be more difficult, cooking and baking with low vision are definitely not impossible.
There are, of course, additional safety techniques that cooks and bakers with low vision should practice to protect themselves from injuries:
1. Use a task lamp
One of the many challenges for people with low vision is not being able to see the objects in front of them clearly without a nearby light source. Luckily, you can make chopping ingredients easier by using a task lamp with a flexible arm. In this way, you can better see what you are doing as the light provides a higher contrast between your knife and the food, making chopping a lot safer.
2. Wear short sleeves
To avoid your sleeves from catching fire, ensure that you wear short-sleeved shirts when working in the kitchen. Alternatively, roll up your sleeves to the elbow while working near a flame.
3. Change stove habits
Cooking and baking with low vision often require changing the habits that you’ve grown accustomed to before. Now that you have limited vision, there are certain stove habits that you should adopt to ensure your safety, such as:
- Turning pan handles inward to prevent spills and burns
- Turning the burner off before removing the pan or pot from the stove
- Putting the pan on the stove before turning the flame on
- Marking frequently used settings on the stove or oven with bright tape or raised dots
4. Turn the oven light on
If you have the oven light turned off, make sure to turn it on whenever you are cooking or baking something in the oven. This will help you remember to turn off the oven when you’re done using it.
5. Invest in a single-serving coffee or tea maker
To avoid burning yourself when handling a pot, invest in a single-serving coffee or tea maker that will make you a cup without the hassle of heating up a kettle.
6. Buy a low-vision timer
A regular kitchen timer may have text that is too small for you to see. Buy a timer meant for people with low vision instead.
7. Install lights underneath cabinets
Install low-glare lighting underneath your kitchen cabinets to make it easier to see.
8. Have light and dark cutting boards
The contrast between the food and the cutting board helps you better see what you’re slicing or cutting. This not only makes knife work more efficient, but it also helps you protect your fingers from injury.
Buy a light cutting board for dark-colored foods (e.g. leafy green vegetables, red meats, brightly colored fruits) and a dark cutting board for light-colored foods (e.g. onions, white meat, cauliflower).
9. Buy long oven mitts
Invest in a pair of long oven mitts (longer than the regular ones) to protect your hands and arms from excessive heat.
10. Use appropriate measuring tools
Making measurement mistakes might not be a threat to safety, but it can be incredibly wasteful when you mess up a recipe and have to start all over again. To avoid this, replace your regular measuring tools with ones that have large prints and contrasting markings to make it easier to see what you’re measuring.
11. Position baking racks first
It can be dangerous to adjust oven racks while the oven is turned on, especially if you have difficulty seeing the objects in front of you. The best technique to go about this is to position the oven racks correctly before turning on the heat. Then, after the food is done baking, turn off the heat before removing it from the oven, making sure to pull the rack partially instead of reaching your hand into the oven.
After removing things from the oven, don’t forget to push the oven racks back inside and close the oven door as soon as possible.
Cooking and baking with limited vision can be difficult as well as dangerous. But with these safety techniques, you can continue making the food you love as much as you used to while keeping yourself safe from cuts, burns, splashes, and other hazards present in the kitchen.