Coping with Vision Loss

Some people assume that permanent vision loss means giving up many of the joys of an active life, but this is absolutely not true.

Many people with vision loss lead active, fulfilling, joyful and entirely independent lives. And with proper training and practice, you too can continue to do the many things you enjoy – from reading to cooking to hiking or anything in between – as well as many new things you may have never even considered. All it takes is learning how to do them a little bit differently than you used to.

CNIB’s services are available to help you adjust to vision loss and continue to live independently. Call the CNIB Helpline at 1-800-563-2642 to start taking advantage of CNIB’s services in your community and regaining your confidence today.

Peer support

If you’re having difficulty adapting to vision loss, peer support can help you to not only meet, build friendships and share experiences with other people who know what you’re going through – but gain invaluable tools and techniques to help you live independently, despite the changes to your sight. 

Contact your local CNIB office for a support group in your area. If you feel that you or your family could benefit from additional emotional support, speak to your family doctor about what you’re experiencing and ask to be referred to a councellor, therapist or psychologist.

Adapting at work and home

Woman assisting senior woman pouring coffee
If you’re living with a loss of vision, CNIB’s independent living services can give you safe and effective ways to do daily activities with confidence, like navigating your work and home.

 A CNIB specialist can come right to your home and provide you with adaptive strategies to help you perform day-to-day household tasks like using appliances with the assistance of large-print labels or raised indicator dots. He or she can also visit your workplace and make simple but effective changes to help you feel more comfortable and safe in your job environment, and perform your role with confidence. Contact your local CNIB office to start taking advantage of these free services today.

Staying active

Many people with vision loss are able to get around completely independently – they work, shop, do their banking and visit friends just like anyone else. Travelling safely can present challenges at first, but can be overcome with time and learning. And CNIB will be there every step of the way. CNIB’s specialists can teach you how to travel safely at home, at work, in your community or any number of other places you may want to go. Contact your local CNIB office to find out more.

Staying active also means maintaining physical fitness and getting regular exercise. If you have an eye disease related to a medical condition such as diabetes, you may have special considerations when it comes to an exercise routine. Speak to your family doctor about ways for you to get active and stay fit! If you have diabetes, you can also visit the Canadian Diabetes Association for more details on staying active.

Hobbies and leisure

Recreational activities and hobbies are a major part of life. They can influence our happiness, physical health and adjustment to vision loss. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep active and have fun with vision loss. Sometimes that means using assistive devices that can help you continue to do the things you enjoy – like adaptive crafting tools, games, sports equipment, reading materials or computer programs – while other times it can just be a matter of learning what kinds of programs and services are available in your community to help you get the most out of life. Either way, CNIB’s specialists can help.  

Outdoor activity clubs: Depending on where you live in Canada, bowling, curling, golf, tandem cycling with a sighted guide, cross-country skiing, camping, canoeing and sailing are some of the many activities open to people with vision loss. In fact, there are few leisure activities in which people with vision loss can’t participate.

Attractions and events: If you’re a client of CNIB, a CNIB ID card can enable you to take advantage of discounts to attractions and events in your community. For example, it may provide discounted access to art galleries, community attractions, sports events, museums, zoos, theme parks, travel and festivals. For more information, contact your local CNIB.

Reading and access to information: Home to more than 80,000 alternative-format materials, the CNIB Library is Canada’s largest library for people with vision loss and other print disabilities. The library includes national and regional newspapers and magazines, described movies and videos, books, and databases and websites with electronic texts. For more information, visit the CNIB Library or contact your local CNIB office.

Information for family and friends

Vision loss can sometimes be very difficult to adjust to – and not just for the person experiencing it. Friends and family members of someone with vision loss may have a difficult time accepting and adapting as well. Not only can it be hard initially to see someone you’re close to having to adjusting to vision loss, but the experience may evoke personal fears of losing vision and challenge you to wonder how you yourself might feel and cope.

The first step if you are a family member or friend of someone who’s losing their sight is often to seek help for yourself. CNIB can assist you by:

  • helping you better understand what your loved one is going through and support them during difficult times.

  • providing you and your family with access to counselling services through CNIB’s vision support services to deal with any emotions or sense of loss you may be experiencing [If you feel that you or your family could benefit from additional emotional support, speak to your family doctor about what you’re experiencing and ask to be referred to a professional counsellor, therapist or psychologist].

  • educating you on how to show appropriate concern and give help when needed.

  • giving you helpful strategies to deal with feeling overprotective of your loved one and, instead, learn to include them and help them to do things independently.

  • helping you create an accessible environment in your home so that your loved one feels safe and confident doing things on their own.

  • teaching you how to safely guide your loved one, particularly if they’re using a white cane or other mobility aid.

  • putting you in touch with other families or friends of people with vision loss to share experiences and advice. 

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