Low Vision or No Vision – Tools of the Trade

by Randy Pierce

Vision loss is a challenging experience, regardless of the extent of the loss. All the levels of loss are a disrupting change and require some transition. I felt, in my first adjustment to ‘legal’ blindness, that it was almost criminal to complain, given that I still had some usable vision. The simple fact is that loss is hard, vision particularly, since we rely on it for so much of our interaction with the world.

Accepting the reality of that difficulty is essential, both in anticipating the effort required to make the adjustments, as well as the willingness to seek out solutions and/or help in learning the skills and tricks to resume a normal life. Learning to be safe is the first step, and that starts with the ability to take steps. Mobility training and potential use of a cane, or eventually a guide dog, allow someone to understand the many non-visual details for safe travel. Even learning to better use the limited vision can make enormous strides possible.

Safety around survival skills from cooking, to how to set a thermostat, to managing grooming and hygiene, or even use a remote control are all made easier with a low vision specialist’s consultation and teaching. Creativity and an open mind allow the solutions to match the individual’s needs and wants, but it can be tremendously daunting to seek these solutions out without the right support.

This is true for any amount of loss. In fact, my hardest transition was not the one to total blindness, but rather the first loss where emotional turmoil and the lack of helpful connections created the most overwhelming response. A feeling of guilt, that I didn’t need or deserve help, limited my willingness to accept reasonable options that could make the transitions better. So, whether it’s low vision or blindness, there is tremendous benefit to reaching out and learning how some simple suggestions can help change focus to a positive direction, with a safe foundation of tips and tricks for managing the changes. This conviction is a large part of my inspiration to have 2020 Vision Quest help ensure that services will be there for those who can benefit from them!

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