Traveling with Low Vision: Our Low Vision Optometrist's Guide to a Seamless Journey

Low vision can make traveling by plane, bus, or rail challenging, but with the right preparation, it can be a safe and enjoyable experience. If you have low vision, it's important to plan ahead and consider your specific needs before traveling. Here are specific tips for each mode of transportation:

Traveling with Low Vision: Our Low Vision Optometrist's Guide to a Seamless Journey in Olympia

Traveling by Plane With Low Vision

Request assistance: Most airlines offer assistance for passengers with low vision, including help with boarding, finding your seat, and getting off the plane. Contact the airline in advance to discuss your needs and make any necessary arrangements.

Pack essentials: Make sure to pack any low vision aids  you use regularly, such as magnifying glasses, digital magnifiers, prism readers, or any other low vision aid that you use.  Consider bringing a small flashlight, as the lighting on a plane can be dim and lighting can make visual tasks even more difficult.

Request special seating: Consider requesting a seat near the aisle, with additional legroom, or close to the bathroom to make your flight more comfortable.

Pack smart: When traveling by plane it is really helpful to have your bags packed with the foreknowledge that you may  need to have access to certain things. For example pack your bag with any liquids or electronics easily accessible. Wear pants with easy to access pockets to enable you to easily reach travel documents or ID. 

Learn the layout of the airport before your trip: An easy way to improve your comfort during your travels is to look up the layout of the airport before going on a trip. 

Use highly identifiable items to mark your luggage: One of the most frustrating things for someone who is visually impaired is identifying their luggage from others that all look the same. Let’s face it, that is difficult even for those who have perfect vision. There are multiple ways of doing this, for example using brightly colored stickers or fabrics or using audible trackers. 

American Family Vision Clinic

Traveling by Bus With Low Vision

Request assistance: Many bus companies have policies in place to assist passengers with low vision. Contact the company in advance to discuss your needs and make any necessary arrangements.

Familiarize yourself with the bus: Before boarding the bus, familiarize yourself with the layout and location of the bathroom, exit, and emergency exits.

Ask for help: If you need help finding your seat or getting off the bus, don't hesitate to ask a fellow passenger or the driver for assistance.

Traveling by Rail With Low Vision

Request assistance: Most rail operators have policies in place to assist passengers with low vision. Contact the operator in advance to discuss your needs and make any necessary arrangements.

Plan ahead: Research the route of your trip and familiarize yourself with the train station and platform you'll be using. This can help you feel more confident and reduce stress.

Ask for help: If you need help finding your way or have any other concerns during your trip, don't hesitate to ask a fellow passenger, a train employee, or a police officer for assistance.

Traveling by Rail With Low Vision
Traveling by Rail With Low Vision

Traveling by Rail With Low Vision

Cruise vacations are sometimes a great option for someone with vision loss, as everything is easily accessible and provided on site. The ship offers a comprehensive experience, with dining, entertainment, relaxation and socialization options. All-inclusive deals, including airfare, can simplify the process but come at a higher cost.

Cruise companies can cater to various dietary requirements with prior notice. However, medical attention on board is limited to emergency care only.

Notify the cruise company in advance: Many cruise companies have special accessibility options available but ask for 30 days notice to ensure that those options are available. 

Ask for a tour of the boat: Many cruise ships will provide an orientation tour for passengers with low vision. 

Ask the cruise operator for additional information on resources that they have available: Many cruise companies will have devices available such as digital magnifiers, large menus, among other options. 

Traveling by Rail With Low Vision

A Few Key Considerations When Traveling With Low Vision

It is important to keep in mind that the attitudes and perceptions towards individuals with disabilities may vary from country to country. It may be necessary to be patient and educate others about the level of assistance needed.

It is always a good idea to ask plenty of questions while traveling, as familiar amenities may not be available in unfamiliar locations.

Familiarizing yourself with the exchange rates and local currencies can also be beneficial, as it will allow you to accurately estimate the cost of goods and services.

Finally, seeking out the advice and experiences of others who have low vision can be a valuable resource when traveling to new destinations. They can provide valuable insights and guidance in navigating unfamiliar territory.

How Can I Find a Low Vision Optometrist Near Me?

If you are searching for a low vision optometrist, it is important to choose a qualified and experienced professional. A local optometrist or ophthalmologist are important parts of the care team, however a low vision optometrist is especially trained to provide you with the necessary care and support to not only manage your eye health and maximize your vision, but also enable you to navigate the complexities of living with vision loss. If you are not near our low vision optometrist in Olympia, simply search for "low vision eye doctor near me" or "low vision optometrist near me" to find a low vision optometrist in your area.

Traveling by Rail With Low Vision
Dr. Zurcher cartoon

Speak To Our Low Vision Optometrist in Olympia Before Traveling

Before traveling, schedule a visit with our low vision optometrist to make sure you are equipped with the tools to make your trip a success and to discuss any specific concerns you may have. With the right preparation and planning, you can make your travel experience a safe and enjoyable one. Our low vision optometrist can provide you with tailored advice and recommendations to help you navigate air travel, bus rides, and rail trips with confidence. Don't let low vision hold you back - let our optometrist guide you on your next journey. To schedule a low vision evaluation, please call (360) 491-2121.

Patients with low vision visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of low vision services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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