7 Cooking Tips for People With Wet AMD


Whether you’re a seasoned chef or terrible cook, having wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can make it tougher to be in the kitchen.

Because looking directly at something right in front of you can be so challenging, you may have trouble doing up-close tasks. That includes all sorts of kitchen tasks, from chopping vegetables and seasoning sauces to adjusting the stove and reading recipes. Loss of vision isn’t just an inconvenience: A lit burner or slip of the knife can also be dangerous.

The secret is to rely on a few smart tools and tips. Not only will they help keep you safe while in the kitchen, but they may also bring back some of the joy of cooking.

1. Create Contrast When You’re Cutting Food

Buy two cutting boards: one that’s black and one that’s white. You can use the dark-colored board when you’re chopping lighter foods, such as onions or chicken breasts, and the white board when you’re working with darker foods, such as broccoli or red meat.

The contrast between the colors will make the food visually stand out better, so you’ll be better able to see where you should be chopping or slicing, says Nader E. Fakhoury, OD, owner of OpoNu Low Vision Care in Chicago and a fellow of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists.

You can also buy a high-contrast cutting board that is black on one side and white on the other.

2. Mark Your Stove Knobs

Do you often cook your meals at 350 degrees F? Mark that number on your oven dial with a strip of bright contrast tape, says Dr. Fakhoury. “Or, apply several different contrasting colors for different temperatures,” he says.

On burners, you can apply different tape colors for low, medium, and high heat settings, so it’s easier to turn the dial from a boil to a simmer.

Are there knobs you don’t use? Put some regular tape on those dials. This makes them difficult to turn on, which can be a good thing for people with wet AMD. You don’t want to accidentally turn on the back burners if you want to use the front burner, Fakhoury notes.

3. Use Cutting Tools

Maybe you’ve nicked yourself one too many times with the paring knife or slipped up and sliced your finger instead of the carrot. If that’s the case, you might want to buy some cut-resistant gloves. They’re made of special material that helps protect your fingers while giving you a firmer grip on the knife. You can also buy color-coded pairs of gloves in packs, so you can use a light color for chopping dark veggies and a dark color for cutting chicken, for example.

Tools like vegetable choppers (both manual and electric versions) can chop the food for you, without having to come in contact with the blade. Garlic presses can also make prep a breeze.

Many grocery stores also sell already chopped vegetables (such as broccoli florets in a bag) or jars of minced garlic or ginger, although they can be a bit more expensive than buying the foods whole.

4. Lean On Much-Loved Recipes

Do you know the recipe for chicken parmigiana off the top of your head? All the better. Turn to recipes you’ve used (and perfected) through the years.

It can be difficult to learn the nuances of a new recipe, says Fakhoury. But, with a tried-and-true recipe, you’ll know exactly how long it takes to fry the chicken in the pan or bake it in the oven.

“It’s easier to cook by time, rather than visually checking the food,” says Fakhoury. “If you know something takes 20 minutes, you can set a timer. That said, if you’re trying a new recipe — or just absolutely want to make sure the chicken is cooked through — you can opt for a handy talking food thermometer (yes, they exist).

5. Mark Your Utensils

Apply some tape or paint in contrasting colors to the handles of your utensils. (This way, you won’t have to fumble around with different handles, all of which can look exactly the same.) For example, mark the spatula handle with blue tape and the whisk with green tape.

“This helps with visual recognition of the tools you’re using in the kitchen,” Fakhoury says.

6. Don’t Fret Over Measurements

Rely on recipes that don’t call for exact measurements, advises the American Macular Degeneration Foundation. Things like smoothies, soups, stews, stir-fries, and pasta are great examples of foods that won’t taste much different if you’re off by, say, a quarter teaspoon of garlic powder.

7. Color-Code Your Recipes

No one likes rooting around their recipe box for the instructions for green bean casserole. That’s why Fakhoury recommends writing down recipes on colored (larger-spaced) index cards, such as meat dishes on orange cards and side dishes on yellow cards.

He also advises using a black felt-tip pen, so the words are bolder and easier to see. These pens come in various thicknesses, so as your AMD progresses, you may find that you have to use ones with a thicker point.

If you store your recipes on a computer or tablet, you can enlarge the font size or turn on text to speech to hear the recipe read aloud.


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