Getting Started: Responding Proactively To the Challenge Of Losing Your Vision

Lenore Dillon standing outside, white cane in hand


Everyone has been presented with many challenges throughout their lifetime. Some more than others, but we all have challenges. When presented with any type of challenge it is natural that our behaviors change initially. For example, often when we hear any discouraging news, our knee jerk behavior is to react. We ask “Why me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” That is a “reaction” and it is normal, but reactions are not productive.

Another behavior is to “respond,” to ask thoughtful questions, to be proactive in finding solutions. When we respond, we are taking a positive step towards rising to the challenge set before us. Every one of us reacts when confronted with situations we do not like or understand, which is what happens when people are faced with vision loss.

Every day, all over the country, people are diagnosed with eye conditions that result in visual impairment or blindness. Immediately after receiving that diagnosis, they often react. They think about how vision loss impacts every aspect of their life. That even the simplest task they learned how to do as a child seems impossible, tasks such as making a cup of coffee, reading again, or getting a job. They react by feeling helpless, hopeless and that life is over. The response to this challenge is not an easy one; hence the word “challenge.” But there are many resources available today for living with all aspects of vision loss.

Getting Started Kit

VisionAware can help you find those resources. One quick way to discover the help you need is VisionAware’s new Getting Started Kit. The kit has tip sheets that can help you “get started’ with dealing with the challenges of vision loss and to give you the hope, help, and the connection to resources that you need to respond. These tip sheets are all in downloadable pdf format for easy printing and are also available in plain text format so that you can adjust the font and print size to meet your needs.If you are new to vision loss, read the First Steps tip sheet first. It serves as a great road map to using VisionAware as a tool.

Some Services to Explore

One of the most important steps for responding to vision loss is to use the VisionAware Directory to seek out services:

  • Orientation and Mobility Training: An Orientation and Mobility Specialist has received specialized training to assist persons with vision loss to be comfortable in their surroundings. Skills taught by Orientation and Mobility Specialists may include but are not limited to, walking with a sighted guide, room familiarization, use of a cane, route traveling and street crossing. With proper training most people with vision loss can travel safely and independently.
  • Vision Rehabilitation Therapy: A Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT) has specialized training to equip persons with vision loss to function independently. Skills taught may include but are not limited to cooking, sewing, cleaning, personal care, personal record keeping, hand writing, use of magnification and braille reading and writing. A VRT can train a person with a vision loss to do old things in new ways.
  • Support Groups: Another way in which a person can respond to the challenge of vision loss is to become a member of a support group. Most communities have groups of people who have experienced vision loss and meet once a month. As iron sharpens iron, people who have lived through the same or similar challenges can help each other.

There are many other types of services which can help you, which you can find through VisionAware. Most importantly is that all of these services can equip people facing this challenge with hope. It is critical to continue doing what you did prior to vision loss. Keep on keeping on. Many people react in fear and just stay home. By leaving your home to rejoin the community you are not only helping yourself, but other people with a vision loss as well.

I challenge you to respond to your vision loss in hope!