By Ms Anita Egan (from Vision Australia) and Dr Brian Ang
If you or your loved one are suffering from untreatable visual impairment, you can still be supported through advice on how to maximize vision through illumination and low vision aids, as well assistance from support groups.
Do remember that you are not alone and that there will always be some form of help or support that you can benefit from.
VISUAL LOSS SUPPORT GROUPS - YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Losing vision can cause feelings of anxiety, fear and even anger. Understandably a diagnosis of serious eye disease can create worry about a loss of independence and uncertainty about the future.
Vision loss is also associated with higher rates of depression. If you are feeling persistently sad and depressed , it may be helpful to talk about these feelings with your family doctor who can organise further referrals if required.
Talking to others who have also experienced vision loss may help by sharing strategies, feelings and information. Quality Living Groups are one type of group program that enables people with vision loss to share stories and ideas in a friendly and supportive environment.
There are often also day programs where people with vision impairment can meet weekly for a social program and enjoy activities and outings.
(Image adapted from Washington Talking Books and Braille Library)
Social programs, including group excursions, are fun ways to mingle and interact with other people who also have visual impairment.
Other group programs including dining out groups, self help groups, and special interest groups. It may also be helpful to speak to someone who has had a similar experience via the Peer Support Program.
If you are housebound and generally find it difficult to go out, there are support groups that offer Telelink programs. Telelink programs are able to link people with vision loss through the telephone.
Another popular service which can assist with feeling connected is the Talking Book library. Talking Books are recorded materials, most often books or magazines, in audio formats. They can be sent through the post or be downloaded directly to your computer. A huge range of titles and some local community newspapers are available on audio.
(Image adapted from Vision Australia)
A variety of materials, such as popular books and bestsellers, magazines, scholarly literature, instructional texts, musical scores, and other specialized materials for adults and children are available as audio books.
If you would like more information about group programs, the talking book library, social and recreation programs or any other services offered by Vision Australia, please visit the Vision Australia website.
Other organizations that may be able to provide you with additional information or assistance include:
• Canadian Council of the Blind (Canada)
• Blind Foundation (New Zealand)
• National Council for the Blind of Ireland (Republic of Ireland)
• Royal National Institute for Blind People (United Kingdom)
• Visual Impairment Scotland (United Kingdom)
• American Foundation for the Blind (USA)
• Affordable Colleges Online - Visual Impairment (USA)
• Central Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired (USA)
• National Federation of the Blind (USA)