Questions Children Ask About Blindness and Vision Loss

When children know someone who has developed a vision problem, they may react with curiosity, confusion, or fearfulness. If children have these reactions to vision loss, it's important to take the opportunity to discuss these feelings and encourage the child to ask questions. You might also encourage the person who is blind or has low vision to share with the child what he or she can and cannot see.

It's also an opportunity to teach children the basics about how the eye works. They will have many questions, so you will have to be prepared to answer them! If you don't have the answers, this can be an opportunity to learn together.

Please note: At VisionAware, we are sensitive to the idea of children accessing the Internet without adult supervision. We therefore recommend that adults and young children review this section together. There are photographs that show different parts of the eye and others that simulate different eye disorders and diseases. You may wish to review these prior to sharing them with young children. We suggest that you use these resources together and be guided by your child's questions.

Why does my grandmother see better on some days than on others?

Certain eye conditions, changes in the environment, and other health problems can all make it more difficult to see well. Sometimes these changes are gradual, but they can also cause vision that seems to change from day to day. These vision changes can sometimes make things look cloudy, unclear, wavy, or incomplete and can mean that on certain days, your grandmother will be able to see better than on others.

Sometimes, conditions such as dim light or too much light can also make it more difficult to see. For example, if your grandmother has cataracts, she might not see clearly on very sunny days because the bright sunlight creates too much light. She may find it easier to see if she wears sunglasses and a hat that keeps the sun from shining directly into her eyes. You can read more about how eye conditions can affect vision.

Changes in vision can also be related to other health problems that your grandmother may have. Some older people also have difficulty hearing or moving about with ease, due to arthritis or other health conditions. Have you ever noticed that it is often easier to understand someone when you speak to him or her in person rather than on the telephone? Hearing directs our attention to things we might not see and vision helps us to better understand what people are saying because we can see their lips forming the words, along with the facial expressions they use when speaking.

How do people take care of themselves and get around if they can't see?

People who can't see find many ways to do the everyday activities they need and want to do. People who are blind or have low vision have interesting jobs, take care of their homes, cook, and have hobbies like anyone else. They find ways to accomplish what they need to do without vision. You can read more at Independent Living at Home with Vision Loss.

You might find it interesting to read Questions Kids Ask About Blindness and learn more about the ways that people who are blind or have low vision handle everyday tasks and situations. You can also learn more about braille and try it yourself at the The Braille Bug Site.

What kinds of changes can I make at home to make it easier for my grandfather to get around?

After your grandfather has shared with you any difficulties he may be having with everyday activities, together you can explore making simple changes that can make it easier for him to do the things he wants to do, such as reading, using the telephone, making coffee, writing checks, sending e-mail, shaving, using his home workshop, or taking care of his lawn and garden. You can learn more about making changes to everyday activities at Independent Living at Home with Vision Loss.

use more light for work areasSome of these changes are as simple as making sure that there is enough light in the kitchen and in the halls and stairways. Your grandfather can use a task lamp to focus light on his work area when he reads, uses the computer, or prepares meals in the kitchen. You can read more about making changes in the home at Home Modifications on this web site.

Can people lose their vision when they get older?

People can lose vision in several ways that are not a normal part of aging. It's important to know about these conditions, and to understand how they are different from normal changes that occur in the eye as people become older.

Here is a picture of two boys that shows you how a person with normal vision would see it:

A picture the way a person with normal vision sees it

You can see what this picture looks like to a person with cataracts, diabetes, glaucoma, or macular degeneration by clicking on the links below:

Where can my grandparent learn how to do everyday activities and get around with impaired vision?

There are organizations and professionals throughout the United States and in many other countries that help people who are blind or have low vision learn to do the things they want and need to do. Two of the specialists who are most often involved in helping people with impaired vision are Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (VRTs) and Orientation and Mobility Specialists (OMS).

A VRT teaches safe new ways to do familiar everyday activities, such as preparing food, using the microwave and stove, taking care of personal grooming, using the telephone, and managing medications.

An OMS teaches techniques to move about safely, comfortably, and confidently at home, at work, and in the neighborhood. You can learn more about these professionals at Vision Rehabilitation Services and Professionals on this web site.

How can I help other children learn about vision problems?

You might want to speak with your teacher about preparing a report or a presentation about vision, vision loss, and helpful ways to deal with vision problems. The following questions can be useful as you plan what you want to do:

You can use the links on this web site to help you answer each of the questions above. If your school has equipment to project images directly from the Internet, you might also show your classmates some diagrams of the eye and photos that explain how people with different eye diseases see the world around them.

How can I help my grandparents if they are having problems seeing?

If your grandparent seems to be having trouble doing something, you might ask him or her what you can do to help. Sometimes, he or she may just need help finding something around the house or reading print that is too small or blurry. Asking how you can help is always a good way to start. There are also many organizations and agencies that can provide information and assistance to people with impaired vision.

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    Father Warnke, who was born with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and glaucoma, has had a very successful series of careers as mental health counselor and Episcopal priest, to name just a few of his accomplishments.

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