Macular Degeneration

Ever have a thought or an idea hit you like a ton of bricks? This is what happened to me this week in my independent learning project. My sister and I spent some time with my grandparents this weekend, first going with them to Safeway to get groceries and then joining them for lunch at their house, and a conversation during lunch made me realize something. My sister had picked up a bag of chips at the store and brought them into the house for my grandparents to try, as they’ve never had them before. They were baked Cheetos puffs, and after trying them my grandma asked my sister what the bag looked like so they could find it themselves next time they went. Interestingly enough, my sister started describing what the lettering on the bag looked like, what they were called, etc. My grandma has macular degeneration however, and therefore can’t see well – she’s legally blind. In the middle of my sister’s description, my grandma interrupted and kindly said, “no, what does the bag look like?” “Well, the bottom half is orange and the top half is light brown,” was the response. It was here I had my “revelation,” if you want to call it that. Since my grandma has low vision, she relies on colors – simple design – to find products at the store. She’s always done this, as she’s had this degenerative disease for the better part of 30 years, but I hadn’t made that connection until now, during my independent learning project. Therefore if my grandma does this, how many others in the world do this as well? Do companies take this into consideration when they design their products or packages for their products? Does this fall into the “universal design” category of assisting those with disabilities? Or, on the other hand, do these companies simply assume the better part of the American public can read and therefore base their package designs on that? What I’m going to do this next week is do some research and hopefully find some answers. Anyway, I hope everyone else’s projects are going great as well!


This is what a person with macular degeneration might see – a black spot in their central vision. My grandma has described it as a giant white cloud in the middle of her vision, however. Photo CC: by National Eye Institute.



  1. karsonlangley · February 22, 2016

    I found your blog post very interesting Josh. I am sorry that your grandma has had to cope with macular degeneration, however it seems as if she does a pretty good job of handling it. Your epiphany of how graphic designers target visually impaired people intrigued me. I am extremely curious to see what kind of information you find on whether graphic designers consider those who are visually impaired when they design products. I also found your image at the end of the blog to be helpful. I knew of macular degeneration, but didn’t have an understanding of how things appeared to those effected by it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joshuapilkington · March 25, 2016

      Thanks for taking the time to read it! She does do a phenomenal job of handling it, and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t even know what to do if I were ever diagnosed with that, so I admire her in her perseverance and positive attitude. It’ll be interesting, I haven’t found much information on the topic yet, but I hope I do. Also, I’m glad you found my image helpful!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s