Islets of Hope  care tips for persons with diabetes

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Article disclaimer

Compiled by Lahle Wolfe, who is not a medical doctor but has diabetes, and is a parent of a young child with diabetes who uses an insulin pump.


For the newly blind with diabetes

Blind diabetes can draw insulin safely

American Foundation for the Blind: What happens whn you can't read your lifesaving (diabetes) equipment?


Tips are sent to us and compiled into our "Diabetes Care Tips" section for general information only. Tips are based on the experiences and opinions of those who submit tips to IOH and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and position of IOH.

Advice found in any part of our "Diabetes Care Tips" section is not intended, nor should be as a substitute for the care and advice of a licensed medical health professional.

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Diabetes Products for the Visually Impaired

Note: Islets of Hope does not endorse or recommend any particular product.  We have simply listed some products and companies for general information only.

Count-a-Dose®.   With the Count-a-Dose®, a person with poor vision can fill insulin syringes safely and accurately. A bottle holder is marked with one raised dot for the first bottle and two raised dots for the second bottle. These raised dots allow for easier mixing and allows from one to fifty units of insulin in single unit increments.  Audible "clicks" are heard for each unit drawn.

The Insul-Cap® is a one piece syringe loading device with built-in magnifier. Numbers on the disposable insulin syringe are magnified two times in the transverse direction. The Palco Insul-Cap assists patients with impaired vision and unstable hands to load syringes.

Accu-Chek Voicemate Blood Glucose Monitor is a talking blood glucose monitor for the blind/visually impaired. Clear voice guides user through simple step-by-step testing and insulin vial label identification. Touchable Accu-Chek Comfort Curve Test Strips help guide finger to the target. Includes Accu-Chek Softclix Lancet Device for virtually pain-free testing. Portable, easy to use and requires no cleaning.

diabetes care tips                   
Tips for the visually impaired with diabetes

My eyesight is not good and I have trouble seeing the markings in syringes.  How can I make sure that I am getting the right amount of insulin?

There are many ways to ensure that you are getting the correct amount of insulin.  See our side bar for a information on specific products designed to help the visually impaired.

  • In addition to specialty products, you can have someone prefill syringes for you.
  • Insulin pens have audible clicks to help determine how much insulin is being delivered.  You can even purchase pens in prefilled cartridges so that you do not have to fill them yourself.
  • Special syringe magnifiers are inexpensive and found in pharmacies and on the Internet.
  • Some syringes come with different colored plungers than the lines on the barrel.  This can make it easier to read the numbers on the syringe.
  • You can purchase a preset "dose" gauge that will help you measure the space between the end of the syringe barrel and the plunger.
  • Mark your insulin bottles with textured tape, brightly colored electrical tape, or wrap a rubber band around one kind but not the other.

See Islets of Hope's information about prefilling syringes:  Tips on Insulin and Chart of Insulin Shelf-life

From Voice of the Diabetic:

How to Get Air Bubbles Out of an Insulin Syringe - There are techniques by which a blind diabetic may draw and mix insulin without drawing air into the syringe. Like many others, I have used them successfully for years. I first draw four or five units of regular insulin into the syringe and then inject all of it back into the vial. I then repeat the operation two more times. The fourth time, I draw the full amount of insulin needed from the first vial. Then, when I draw insulin from the second vial, I draw the exact amount needed. I have put this to the test; 100 repetitions without air bubbles. Diabetes Action Network former First Vice President Janet Lee twice performed the same test. In both cases the complete absence of air in the syringe was independently verified.

“Tapping the syringe to remove air bubbles,” a common technique used by the sighted, becomes unnecessary. The one to two units of air in the hub of the needle (where needle meets syringe) are expelled during the procedure used with the first vial of insulin. I demonstrate this technique to nurses, who are delighted to see that air bubbles are not present and the insulin measurement is accurate. Of course, long-term insulin users will be familiar with the need to inject as much air into the vial as the amount of insulin they withdraw, to facilitate getting the insulin into the syringe.

For more information see:

Managing Diabetes with Visual Impairment: Guide to meters and features suitable for the blind

Diabetes and Visual Impairment:  Are insulin pumps accessible?

Blindness (more links to resources for the visually impaired)

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Page Updated 04/27/2006