Staying Independent without Eyesight

May 27, 2013

Losing your eyesight is one of the most difficult things you could ever go through. It is commonly accompanied by feelings of grief, depression, and despair. However, there is absolutely no reason for the days ahead to be dark, simply because you can no longer see well.

What follows is a list of things you can do to help adjust to having pour eyesight. Not only will these suggestions keep your mind off the loss of your vision, but they will help you cope and adapt to a new way of doing things.

1. Stop saying "I Can't."

My Dad always used to tell me, "Son, you're blind, not helpless." I want to tell you the same thing, as gently as I can. Friend, you can cook, clean, and walk. You can go to parties, read books, and surf the Internet. Being blind is an inconvenience, not a crippling disability. You can do almost anything you decide to do, you'll just need to do it in a different way.

2. Ask and Learn.

We strongly recommend reaching out to a friend or family member through this difficult time. Loved ones can not only be a terrific source of encouragement, but also a great help until you are comfortable doing things on your own. Do not allow your family to baby you, however. You may need a little help learning to do things by touch and sound instead of sight, but you are not helpless. Ask them to help you cook dinner, for instance, not cook it for you. The goal is for you to learn how to cook it on your own.

3. Go Shopping.

The market is filled with thousands of adapted products for the blind and visually impaired to help you live a rich, independent life. Pick up a talking clock for your bedroom, tactile bumps for your microwave, a white cane to help you get around, and a few audio books to listen to. Ask your friend to help you find a store on the Internet selling these kinds of products.

4. Your Memory is Key.

It is imperative that you train your mind to remember information like a steel trap. You can't glance around for your cell phone, so put it someplace that makes sense to you. When you meet someone new, remember what her voice sounds like so you can recognize her next time she says hello. When eating dinner, remember where items are placed so you don't knock over your glass of water.

5. Solve Problems Yourself.

Don't expect others to do everything for you. If you like to read a book on your favorite park bench, ask a friend to show you how to get there, then memorize the rout so you can get there and back on your own. If you are picky about what you eat, arrange your snacks alphabetically so you don't open up a box of Twinkies instead of granola bars. Put things where you can find them, memorize the layout of your house or apartment building, and don't be afraid to try new things. You can't do everything the way you used to, but that doesn't mean it can't be done.

6. Learn Braille.

If you are going to be entirely competent, you must know how to read. Contrary to what you may think, learning to read Braille is not at all difficult, and there are many tools to get you started. Again, ask that friend of yours to look up resources for learning Braille on the Internet. If he's a real pal, he may even study Braille with you ... which is a fabulous help!