A Guide to Vision Loss for Family and Friends
Vision loss happens to families, not just individuals. If you have a parent, spouse, other family member, or friend who is experiencing vision loss, you naturally want to offer comfort and support. What you may want most of all, however, is to see that person in the same light as before: independent, capable, and full of life.
The information here can provide advice and direction on how to assist your loved one with adapting successfully to the many changes ahead. You can also ask questions or share your story on the Friends and Family message board.
If you are the parent of a child with vision problems, FamilyConnect is where you can find videos, personal stories, events, news, and an online community that can offer tips and support from other parents of children who are blind or visually impaired.
Helpful Books from AFB Press
- Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind: Personal and Professional Perspectives on Age-Related Macular Degeneration by Lindy Bergman
- Aging and Vision Loss: A Handbook for Families by Alberta L. Orr, MSW and Priscilla A. Rogers, Ph.D.
- Making Life More Livable: Simple Adaptations for Living at Home after Vision Loss, Third Edition by Maureen A. Duffy, M.S, CVRT
Earl and Bonnie Truax: A Husband and Wife Story
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Transcript of Video
Bonnie Truax, Age 81, Macular Degeneration
NARRATOR: A gray-haired woman sitting on the couch
BONNIE: It's very hard for the... we call it caregiver--and in my case it's Earl, my husband-- when you can't find the telephone number, or maybe you can't find the telephone, uh... who do you pick on? You pick on the person who's there. I yell at Earl.[Laughs] "Why couldn't you help me?" You know, "I don't understand why you can't help me." That kind of thing.
Earl Truax, Age 82, Husband and Caregiver
NARRATOR: A bald man wearing a blue-collared shirt.
EARL: I get disgusted at times with her because I think she ought to do this or that or the other, and she says, "Well, don't tell me what to do." So I try not to tell her what to do, because she doesn't like that. She wants to be her own person and do her own things, and when we go to a doctor's office, she doesn't want me to go up and tell them her name and sign in, and so on, she wants to do that. I stay in the background.
So when we go to a restaurant, I naturally... I need to read the menu because she can't read the menu. They bring two and she just says, "I'm visually impaired, he'll order." So I do that, I read the menu, and we decide on what we're going to do and we place the order.
When the food tray comes, then it's something different. I say, "Well, we use the clock system. Your meat's at six o'clock, your vegetables are at two o'clock, there's something else over here, salad, at eight o'clock," so she's got a mental picture right in front of her of what's on that plate. I have to make sure she gets the knife turned the right way, sometimes it's upside down. I say, "Your knife's upside down. It'll be easier to cut if you turn it over." And she does that. We just grin and laugh about those things.
BONNIE: They have to take a lot of grief while you're getting used to this thing, and even after that. I lose my temper sometimes because things go so slowly and I'm not... it's not too pleasant, you know, but it's... it's a normal thing.
A Team Effort
EARL: I still love her, just as much as I always have for all 58 years we've been married.
NARRATOR: Earl and Bonnie, smiling, in a recent family photo.
EARL: We work as a team, we always have. We have our individual roles, our individual likes and dislikes, and so on, but we try to get along with each other, help each other, support each other, and it hasn't changed between the time she was sighted and the time she lost her vision.
- Author Ed Henkler Helps Readers Support Parents with Age-related Vision Loss
Ed Henkler, son of a mother with age-related macular degeneration, writes an e-book for helping families with useful tips and resources on dealing with vision loss. Read about his journey and his book.
Questions and Answers
- Birth Options for Mothers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
by Holly Bonner on 1/11/2017
- A Time of Joy and a Time of Sorrow: Grandmothering Without Sight
by Sheila Rousey on 12/21/2016
- A Grandma's Thoughts
by Mary Hiland on 12/7/2016
- Bottle-Feeding Baby As a Blind or Visually Impaired Mother
by Holly Bonner on 11/9/2016