Preparing for Vision Loss
Eye Talk by Annie Schlesinger
It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I was diagnosed with my heredity eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). I was told I would likely become totally blind. Although I knew I couldn’t see well, it was a shock! Not knowing how long I had, I begin to prepare.
I took some classes at Braille Institute in Los Angeles. I was given lessons in using the long white cane. Next I took correspondence courses from Hadley Institute including Independent Living and Braille. After I started getting talking books I read stories by and about blind people. I wanted to know how to live.
Although I was legally blind I could function fairly well for a lengthy period of time. BUT as the loss of vision started to impact more of my daily functioning I begin to take vision loss seriously. Unlike me many people won’t become totally blind, I read 85% will retain some vision but may have trouble reading and with activities of daily living. Everyone can benefit from these suggestions.
Here are some things I suggest:
My number one is to get organized! Don’t waste your time and get frustrated by not being organized.
Learn to do things in a non-visual way. This is easier to do while you still have vision as you can check on yourself. Use other senses, there are four more besides vision. Touch does lots for us. Mark items with bump dots or 3D paint so you can locate places such as numbers on a microwave.
If you expect to change residences, do it while you still have vision and can arrange it to your satisfaction.
Work with your environment. Get used to pushing in chairs, close cabinet doors. Plan contrast in dishes, towels, rugs. Plan lighting, avoid glare.
Sign up for talking books if you like to read; this gives you telephone access to NFBNewsline which has over 500 publications available. Bard allows downloading books to a tablet or other device.
When you can’t read your own handwriting there are several digital recorders available for under $100 you can use to make notes and lists.
If you can, get into technology. There’s much available, and although harder to learn for older folks, it opens up another dimension for us. We older folks, and younger ones too, resist change and it may take more repetition for us to learn something. But I did it when all I really wanted in technology was to use the ATM.
“With tools, techniques and a dose of imagination blended with persistence there have always been solutions to performing ordinary tasks without the benefit of 20/20 vision.” Deborah Kendrick
References: Eyes on Success, MDSupport, Access World