Description of Is My World Getting Smaller? The Challenges of Living with Vision Loss
Abstract: Introduction: Vision loss influences both basic and instrumental activities of daily living. There is limited information, however, on the relationship between vision loss and leisure activities. The research presented here was part of a larger study that aimed to understand the importance of participation in leisure activities for those with vision loss. This article focuses on one key theme that emerged from the data: the challenge of engaging in leisure activities outside the home for older adults with vision loss.
Methods: Semistructured interviews and participant observation were used to collect data from 26 adults aged 70 years and older with vision loss. Only those who perceived themselves to be in good or excellent overall health, separate from vision loss, were included.
Results: Themes that emerged related to limited leisure activities outside the home included both personal and environmental factors, such as challenging physical environments, struggling to “get there,” feelings of vulnerability, having decreased energy, and lacking assertiveness.
Discussion: The results indicated that vision loss is a key factor that limits one's ability to engage in out-of-home activities. There is a mismatch between environmental and personal factors that prevents participation in many activities. Although it appears that the participants chose not to engage in leisure activities outside the home because the activities were not within their competence, it is clear that these decisions were neither easy nor desirable.
Implications for practitioners: Therapists who provide services to older adults with vision loss should work with their clients to explore ways to facilitate participation in leisure activities in the community. Advocating for features that increase access and participation, addressing safety, exploring ways to conserve energy, and practicing assertive communication are all important components of a comprehensive vision rehabilitation program.