Handling the News About Your Vision
The examination is over. The test results are in. Your eye care specialist has arrived at a conclusion and is prepared to give you a diagnosis. Maybe it's advanced glaucoma, or macular degeneration. The specific condition is probably less important to you at this moment than the effect it is having—or soon will have—on your life.
Bottom line: Your vision is in steady decline and neither therapy nor corrective lenses will help.
As anyone who has been through this experience will tell you, there is no such thing as being "prepared" for this kind of news. Yes, professional support is available and far more accessible than most people realize. And yes, there are adaptive techniques and remarkable, ever-advancing technology and products to help you continue your daily activities and responsibilities as effectively as ever.
But it may be impossible to consider your options. Right now, your focus is probably on what you imagine you stand to lose along with your vision. For example:
- Loss of Independence: "I won't be able to do even the most
basic things without assistance, like prepare meals, clean my home,
or manage neighborhood errands. I'll be an impossible burden to
my family and friends."
- Loss of Confidence and Self-Worth: "All my life I've been
athletic and physically active. I've always been handy, doing
most of my own home repairs. That's all over."
- Loss of Privacy: "I'll no longer be able to handle my
finances and other private matters alone. I'll have to
surrender control of my life to someone else."
- Loss of Employment: "I'll have to quit my job."
- Loss of Friends and Family: "Who wants to be around me when I can't do anything anymore?"
Sound familiar? These anxieties are common to all of us as we approach our advanced years. It's important to acknowledge them, as they're perfectly normal and are to be expected. However, it's even more important to move beyond them and reclaim your life.
Deanne Jackson Video
Transcript of Video
NARRATOR: A red-haired woman at a shopping mall.
DEANNE: When I got home after I'd heard the news that I had wet macular in my left eye with 20/400 vision, it was like an overnight devastation. I thought my life was over. Because I am very independent and I take care of myself and my family.
NARRATOR: Pictures of Deanne and family members.
DEANNE: And I've been a caretaker for awhile with members of my family and I think, you know, what am I going to do and what are they going to do?
Denial, Then Helplessness
DEANNE: I drove... longer than I should have because I just couldn't believe it was happening. I couldn't even get across the street to a store. I couldn't drive down the street to a store. I couldn't read my newspaper. So I went into like a little bit of depression and just kind of sat there for months.
The First Step is the Hardest
DEANNE: It was very difficult. I know, and I'm not the only one, but it takes everything you have to make that first contact, that first phone call, that first conversation asking for help.
A New Perspective on Receiving Help
DEANNE: You give other people blessings, I've been told, by asking for help. I had a lady just recently sew a button on my dress for me. And I said, oh, you just don't know how much I appreciate this. And she said, you don't know what blessing you just gave me. They're all out there to help. I mean, they're just waiting to help. So all they have to do, the ones that need help, is just to make that first step and know that it's going to happen.
Learning to Use the Cane
NARRATOR: Deanne walking down the street using a cane.
DEANNE: It was like Christmas all over again, because I thought I knew there had to be something out there that would help me to be independent and back among the living. I can do it again.
Never Too Old
DEANNE: I'm learning Braille. Never did I think a 65-year-old would have to learn another language, but I am. Because that's going to help me in the future. And guess what? My brain did wake up.