Some eye conditions, like diabetic retinopathy, 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.

What steps can I take to cope with vision loss?

There are steps you can take to better cope with your condition. These steps include the following:

1. Learn more about your condition. Written or recorded materials are available through state agencies and non-profit organizations. Talking with a doctor and others who have had similar experiences can also be very beneficial.

2. Seek therapeutic counseling. While vision loss can occur at any age, it occurs most often among mature adults. Like any other major life event, it 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.

3. Understand the grieving process. The loss of sight can initially be devastating. Understanding the process of grief associated with the loss of sight can help you and your loved ones cope with these physiological and emotional challenges.

4. Explore the benefits of adjustment classes and devices. Tasks as simple as getting dressed in the morning or as complex as cooking a meal become new challenges after vision loss. In adjustment classes, you can learn new or alternative techniques to help maintain independence. While building mobility and motor skills, these classes also teach the patience and confidence required to live without sight on a daily basis.

What low-vision aids are available?

1. Telescopic glasses

2. Lenses that filter light

3. Magnifying glasses

4. Hand magnifiers

5. Closed-circuit television

6. Reading prisms

These devices are stronger than regular eyeglasses and can be hand held or stationary. Computer software is also available that can alter screen images or read typed text to make new technology and electronic information readily available.

Non-optical aids are also very helpful in daily activities. These aids can talk or come with enlarged print and Braille and have special features, like high contrast, that make them easier to see.

Some non-optical aids include:

1. Text-reading software:These computer programs enables users to understand the text on the screen through a speech synthesizer, Braille display or enhanced text.

2. Braille readers:These devices are typically connected to a computer and they translate each line of text on the screen into Braille.

3. Check guides:This tool is used to help someone with low vision fill out a check. Like a template, it is placed over the check and you can write in the blank spaces, filling out the check as you normally would.

4. High contrast clocks and watches:The numbers on the face of the clock or watch are distinctly set off from the background, making them easier to see.

5. Talking watches and clocks:A voice says the time out loud.

6. Large-print publications:The text in a publication uses a larger size, making it easier to read.

7. Clocks, phones, and watches with enlarged numbers:These devices have larger numbers to make reading them easier.

8. Labeling paint that swells as it dries:This paint puffs up when it dries, allowing you to run your finger over it and understand the label.

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