Skip to Content

AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Low vision - dealing with family and friends?


I was just wondering if there are people out there who feel awkward talking about their vision with friends and family (all of whom have better vision).

I feel like I'm in an odd place, stuck between people with good vision and the blind. I was born 4 months premature, so I had ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity). I'm legally blind in my left eye, have 20/40 in my right eye, have reduced peripheral vision, and, in October of 2009, got diagnosed with a cataract in my good eye.

I'm twenty-two. I only recently started receiving help for my vision (such as accommodation at my college so that I can see the board better in school and will soon be getting ZoomText for my computer). Before now, I just kind-of struggled on my own, squinting and straing my eyes for things far away, sitting close to the TV, leaning in to read the computer general, trying to fit in more with fully sighted people.

I have one sibling with perfect vision and four siblings who must wear contacts or glasses but whose vision isn't that bad. My dad has perfect vision, but my mom has macular degeneration/ poor vision. I recently tried talking to my mom about my vision, and she...started talking about her own vision. Hmm... Okay. Hehe. The attitude she gives me makes me feel like she thinks that I'm exaggerating my vision problems (even though she knows the exact circumstances).

When I was diagnosed with my cataract, I started crying, and she asked me, "Why are you crying? Is it because it's in your good eye?"

She's not alone. I feel like my dad thinks that I'm starting to put too much emphasis on my vision. I've never really talked about it before, but now I am, which is probably weird for him (as well as the rest of my family and my friends). He's more understanding/ sympathetic than my mom, but it still feels like he doesn't believe that I need extra help. He's glad that I'm getting it, but I feel compelled to justify all the new things that I want. I do the same with my siblings and friends even though they haven't said anything on the matter.

For instance, I recently decided that I'd like to have a white cane, but I feel a little embarrassed, because my vision is - again - better than many. When I told my dad that I was thinking of getting one, he asked, "A cane?"

That's when I started to justify it. I polished all of my justification off with "If it'll help me even a little bit, why not use it?"

I think my main purpose for using it would be as identification so that people know that I might not see them (i.e. cars when I'm crossing the street). Thus far, I've just always been hyper vigilant whenever I cross the street. (I have no problem seeing traffic lights, and I see cars as long as I turn my head. I'm very nearsighted, so I do have trouble reading street signs. However, I should be getting a telescope soon to help with that.) I'd also like to use the cane in areas with dim lighting/ at night since I think my reduced peripheral vision makes it harder to see in dim light. I might also use it for stairs, because I'm always hesitant stepping off curbs and stairs despite the fact that my depth perception is...passable. It's not perfect, but it's passable. I think a cane might also help with my reduced peripheral vision. Maybe it'll just make me feel better, more confident, when I'm out walking.

My family in particular seems mystified and/ or confused that I want one.

Another issue that I have: I'm fond of languages, and I would like to learn Braille, with which I am fascinated. I told my mom this, and she chided, "Oh, Bonnie!" like she thought that I was blowing my vision out of proportion. It would be kind-of nice to be able to use Braille when my eyes are tired.

I feel guilty talking to visually impaired people about my problems, because so many people have it much worse than I do, which is why I feel stuck between two worlds. Has anyone else dealt with anything similar or maybe had the same feelings?

Thank you!

There are currently 9 replies

Sort Replies Oldest to Newest

Re:Low vision - dealing with family and friends?

Dear frd your problem is approxiamate same as me but in my left eye the vision is 100%,It's is not 100% but I make it normal vision by power of yoga and pranayama with little help of ayurveda.Dear I also help you to increase your vision and you do any works easily like see blackboard as normal vision person see,drive car without any problem etc.I tell all things which works guaranteed.Trust me I also help your mom to get rid of Macular degeneration.In my life I see that the effect of modern medicle science in eye health is very low but Yoga cure anythings.Dear just mail me in my email.

Re:Low vision - dealing with family and friends?

Do you know why your retina detached only in one eye?

I totally hate realizing how much I rely on my good eye. However, it makes me want to take really good care of it. Hopefully, the cataract won't get worse. Fingers crossed!

You'll have to let me know if you find anything similar in your area. I'm curious if there are other places besides just this one. Haha.

Re:Low vision - improving the situation

I lost nearly all the sight in one eye due to a Detached Retina about 1 year ago. The other eye is still good.
However, I want to learn as much as possible about
living with low vision in case the good eyes bites
the dust also. This web site is really neat. Thanks.

Re:Low vision - dealing with family and friends?


I mentioned above that they also have counselors. I'd recommend checking out the site and looking into seeing if there's anything similar in your area.

I have my first real O & M session this afternoon! I'm so excited!

Re:Low vision - dealing with family and friends?

I don't know if they have it in other states, but near L.A. there is a place where you can get a low vision exam and an assessment test for assisstive technology. They give you visual aids, including glasses, monoculars, large clocks, ZoomText, CCTVs, an O & M instructor, and all sorts of things. It'd be expensive if I had to pay for it, but I'm working with a vocational rehabilitation program that pays for it.

I hope that helps.

Re:Low vision - dealing with family and friends?


What is the "Center for the partially sighted?"

Re:Low vision - dealing with family and friends?

For anyone who's curious, I had an interesting experience yesterday following my appointment with a retinal specialist. I mentioned it in another forum: "Eye Conditions/ ROP - Problems later in life?" I learned that most people are really helpful. : )

Re:Low vision - dealing with family and friends?

Thank you for the advice. I have pretty good self-esteem usually, so being so sensitive about my vision makes me a little...frustrated - and confounded. I'm happy with who I am, but I never factored in my feelings about my vision. I just kind-of ignored it and went on with the other aspects of my life. "It is what it is" kind of mentality.

Truthfully, my cataract is small - it's not affecting my acuity yet, but it might some years down the line.

All my life, I've been coping by...well, straining my eyes and/ or occassionally asking people what something says - as well as shrugging it off when someone asks, "Did you see that?" and I have to say, "No..." Haha. They just think that I'm oblivious (which I kind-of am - side effect of poor vision?).

So, I never realized until recently how much I've been struggling. I could have had all this help (like ZoomText, which I desperately want on my computer but will still take awhile to arrive). I didn't even realize that I felt so sensitive about it until someone at the Center for the Partially Sighted started asking me basic questions about my vision before the doctor saw me. I burst into tears. They were just basic questions like "Do you have trouble reading? watching TV? recognizing faces?" etc.

They offer counseling services there. Initially, when the lady interviewing me mentioned it, I said, "I'll think about it," thinking that I was strong enough that I didn't need it. Now, the more I think about it, the more I know that I should look into it.

As for the Braille, even though my cataract is small and hasn't grown, I really think it would be good to learn it - if only to satiate my curiosity. Hehe.

Thanks again for the advice. I think I'll e-mail you right now. : )

Re:Low vision - dealing with family and friends?

Hey there! I honestly don't really have bad vision- Ive been wearing glasses since I was two, but not super huge ones. But I am prepared to offer advice. If you feel you need a cane, then I would get one. Your safety and the safety of others is much more important than what others think of you. Also, I think the Braille thing is a good idea, especially if you have a cataract in your good eye. You have to remember that only you truly know your body, and you know whether or not you need help or things to help you in your life. I suggest that you talk to your family about it. If they brush you aside, simply do what you have been- Explain the justifications and why you are getting said product.
My sister isn't blind (Though she too wears glasses) but she was born with Spina Bifida and is confined to a wheelchair. She is always quick to tell us if she needs something, and if she does, we get it for her. That's what family does.

If you ever want to just talk, you can email me

Log in to Post a Reply