Quick! Put your hands on your head. Are your glasses there? Grab your neck — are they dangling there? Now, hold your electric bill four feet from your face and try to read it....
Welcome to the midlife version of Simon Says, a nearly universal condition known as presbyopia, which translates roughly to "elderly eye" (as if crow's feet weren't enough). It usually starts in your early 40s, as the lens of the eye stiffens, losing its ability to focus and making it difficult to see objects...
Some eye conditions, like diabetic retinopathy and certain corneal diseases, can be treated so that vision is restored or maintained. Unfortunately, some eye conditions cannot be treated, resulting in low vision or blindness. While one obvious challenge of vision loss is restoring mobility and function, there is also the emotional toll of vision loss to consider. There are steps you can take to better cope with the condition, including:
Learn More About Your Vision Loss
You can order written or taped materials on vision loss through state agencies and non-profit organizations. You may also find it helpful to discuss vision loss with your doctor, as well as other people who have lost vision.
Seek Therapeutic Counseling for Vision Loss
While vision loss can occur at any age, it occurs most often among mature adults. Like any other major life event, vision loss can bring feelings of loneliness, helplessness, anxiety, and depression. Doctors, state agencies, and non-profit organizations offer counseling services for those with vision loss and can provide referrals to other professionals based on individual needs.
Grieving the Loss of Vision
The loss of vision is initially devastating. Understanding the process of grief associated with vision loss can help you and your loved ones cope with these physiological and emotional challenges.
Explore Adjustment Classes and Devices for Vision Loss
Tasks as simple as dressing in the morning or as complex as cooking a meal become new challenges after vision loss. In adjustment classes, individuals can learn new or alternative techniques to help maintain independence. While building mobility and motor skills, these classes and aids also teach the patience and confidence required to live with low vision on a daily basis.
What Low Vision Aids Are Available?
A variety of low vision aids are very useful. Popular low vision aids include:
Lenses that filter light
These devices are stronger than regular eyeglasses and can be hand-held or stationary. You can also buy computer software that can alter screen images or read typed text to make new technology and electronic information readily available.
Non-optical aids are also helpful in daily activities. These devices "talk" to you, or offer enlarged print or Braille. Many also have special features, such as high contrast, that make them easier to see. Some popular non-optical devices include:
Text reading software
High contrast clocks and watches
Talking watches and clocks
Clocks, phones, and watches with enlarged numbers
Low vision clinics and agencies are available in many locations which can help people choose the most helpful vision aids and services for their personal visual problem.