Adjusting to Vision Loss

Sometimes, people with sight loss can experience other issues. For some, it can be that their sight loss is part of a syndrome and so is just one of their health issues. For information on some syndromes that include vision loss, please see our section on ‘What are IRDs’ and ‘FocusOn: Usher Syndrome’.

Some people with sight loss can experience visual hallucinations, or see things that are not there. This can be very frightening for people and some fear that they are having mental health problems. However, it is a common condition in people who have recently lost their sight where the brain is adjusting to the loss of visual information. It is called Charles Bonnet syndrome and while it can be distressing, the hallucinations can get less frequent as time passes.

Vision rehabilitation is one of the supports that ensure you have the right information, training, skills and aids to transition to living with sight loss. Your local sight loss charity will have information on local supports.

Visual rehabilitation can help you achieve your personal goals that can be identified by a support assessment. Vision rehabilitation support can be quite varied. It can include helping you understand your eye disease and what it means for you, understand the changes you may need to make in your life, how to continue looking after yourself and finding new ways to do tasks. It can include ensuring you are safe inside your home and how to care for it: for example, assessing mobility needs, reducing risk of falls and advice on appropriate equipment or mobility aids, if needed. Simple adjustments such as reviewing the lighting in your home can make helpful improvements. A low vision service can advise you on the use of aids such as magnifiers and specialist lighting.

Being able to get out and about is very important to maintain independence. Vision rehabilitation can help with travelling confidently and safely and give advice on using public transport. Vision rehabilitation support is not just for physical adjustments but also takes into account a person’s communication needs and how they keep in touch with others. This can be aided with help with reading, writing, talking books and newspapers, telling the time, using technology such as smartphones, tablets and speech software. Most smartphones or computers have accessible features built in while there are many packages available that enable everyone to use a computer. ViaOpta is a recently developed suite of mobile applications to assist visually impaired people with their daily lives. These apps allow individuals to maintain their independence by assisting with daily activities, navigating their local region and recognising people and places using image analysis technology. See https://www.viaopta-apps.com for more details.

There are many options for support, however it is best not to assume the first solution will be right for you. We’re all different and have different needs.

A visual impairment does not preclude an individual from education or employment. Appropriate vision rehabilitation can ensure access to training, education and learning opportunities as well as advice about disability employment.

The NEI/NIH has useful videos, including this one on ‘How Can People With Low Vision Maintain Their Independence?’ and ‘What To Do About Low Vision’.