Coping with Vision Loss is Keeping Sight of the Possible

Boy looking through public binoculars
Looking Out. Harry Williamson/Spring Studio

According to the American Academy of Ophthamology, approximately half of all Americans will develop cataracts by age 75.

For people in the US aged 40 and over, their Eye Health Statistics also report:

  • Approx 1.3 million people are Legally Blind
  • Over 2.9 million people have low Vision
  • More than 34 million people experience being short-sighted (myopia)

Wow, but don’t despair! There are also 19,216 active Ophthalmologists who are there to help you as well as thousands of other specialists who can advise you in the early stages of sight loss.

My intention here is not to alarm you but to point out that at some point in your life, you may discover your future path detouring towards vision loss…without any idea of how you will cope.

Perhaps I can shed some light on the matter.

Apart from having routine eye examinations, which are extremely important, especially if you are experiencing partial blurriness, subtle loss of contrast, sensitivity to glare or difficulty recognizing colors and other fine details, the most challenging part of losing your eyesight will be the emotional impact on your lifestyle.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with the grieving phase but please know: it’s not about losing your life; it’s about learning to live it differently.

And living in a way that is still full of purpose so that you can continue to experience a meaningful life on awakening every day with a happy heart rather than a fearful one.

To begin, take stock of reality and read the ‘reality checklist’ in How to See Blindness as a Word and Not a Sentence.

Next, let’s explore tried and true options people live by to keep their sight on the possible.

3 Key Strategies to Help You Through the Process of Vision Loss

1: Re-purposing Your Talents

Your talents and personal skills don’t disappear the moment your eyesight begins to fade. You may have to stop doing certain things due to your new situation but when you can truly recognize your talents, those things you do particularly well, consider how to ‘repurpose’ your life by harnessing your personal traits.

For example, perhaps you are a person who is:

  • a creative team leader with entrepreneurial skills
  • a dedicated mom or dad ensuring the happiness and well being of your family
  • a highly organized and efficient worker keeping on top of your ‘to do’ list
  • a committed campaigner for a social cause you are passionate to support
  • the life of the party, bringing cheer to your friends

To continue doing what you love doesn’t mean giving up on who you are as a person with unique skills, but, rather, it is turning your passion into new ways of doing things.

By leveraging your talents, you give life to new ideas.

Personally, becoming a mother while I was losing my sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) during my early twenties gave my life a new purpose. I not only used my natural abilities to love and nurture my young family but over time, I was able to ‘give birth’ to other creative dreams too.

2: Push, Baby, Push

Yes, nothing of value can happen unless you put major effort into pushing yourself to the next phase of your life – in spite of deteriorating eyesight.

In other words, getting out of your comfort zone is going to be vital for your survival!

The life challenge here is beckoning you to see BEYOND the problems at hand. Look at your limitations and once you accept these, you are more able to  adapt your skills in new ways.

Try to find the courage that will motivate you to take positive steps, to see choices and help you tackle a task differently. Any action outside your comfort zone, no matter how small, is a giant step towards personal growth and progress.

Always acknowledge your achievements. It is like listening to your own private cheer-squad.

3: Adapt to Thrive

Think of all the times you have had to adapt to learning a new skill at work, a new method of helping a child understand their school work or even how you organized the move to a different home …in another state or country.

Wasn’t it your ability to become resourceful and determined to see it through that got you to your end goal?  Many times you may have wanted to give up, but you didn’t, right?

Apply that same persistence if you have to adjust to a life with low vision.

A touch of determination not to give up when confronted by challenges will empower you to keep moving forward to find solutions.

Training to gain the skills in assistive technology for the blind and visually-impaired, or working on retaining your independence with an Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist are both great examples of how you can THRIVE by keeping your vision set on the possible.

Take one day at a time, one challenge at a time, and know it is absolutely doable to recalibrate your life to pulse with new possibilities.

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