It is very important to get a low vision examination done with a low vision optometrist since part of that examination is to learn about copying with low vision. But what most people don’t realize is that it is not just important for the patient, but also for the patients children, spouse, and caregivers. Most of the patients and their family members that come in do not really understand what's going on and how it impacts their day-to-day activities.

It is possible that a patient may be managed by a retina specialist (or other Ophthalmologist depending on the cause of vision loss), and they may receive injections on a monthly or bi-monthly basis but their family members don't really understand why their loved one can't do certain things at home or how to best support their loved one who has vision loss. For example, a family member or caregiver may not understand why the person with vision loss can pick up something small from the carpet, but yet, they can't see other things that should be obvious to them. By going with their family member to the low vision appointment with Dr. McBryar, they can have a better understanding of the type of vision loss and the impact of that vision loss on their loved ones' day to day activities.

How to support family members with low vision?

In a low vision exam, much of the time is spent explaining what is going on to the patient and their family so that the family and the patient will be able to cope better with their vision loss. Whenever a patient experiences vision loss, both initially and with progressive conditions, they will go through a grieving period. Their family members need to support them during this grieving period and get them through it. Part of that is having an understanding of it and being able to talk about it with them and understand what they are going through. Dr. McBryar will also discuss other resources that are available and recommend additional therapies based on the discussions with the low vision patient and their family members. In some cases a licensed therapist specializing in adjustment counseling might be needed, so that they could specifically talk to them about adjusting to vision loss. Often times Dr. McBryar will also recommend a low vision occupational therapist to aid the person with vision loss with activities of daily living and adjustments to their living environment.

  • Physical Support - If visual aid interventions, therapies, or other methods of support are needed, family members should be willing to assist. Depending on the situation, you may need to help family members with various devices or drive them to a rehabilitation specialist. When you play an active role in improving the physical and emotional welfare of someone with low vision, you will make their everyday life easier. It is important that loved ones accompany them to their low vision appointment and other eye exams.
  • Emotional Support - A family member with low vision should be reassured that you are there for them, and that you are willing to help. Loss of vision can be terrifying, and many people are skilled at suppressing their feelings. Make them feel comfortable confiding in you.
  • Loss of Independence - One of the most difficult challenges of vision loss is the loss of independence. While someone looking from the outside may see the challenges as activity based, such as not being able to drive or not being able to use the computer, the patient will often feel a sense of helplessness that not being able to do these things brings about. Since vision loss impacts the elderly at a higher rate, these are often people who have lived a fiercely independent life for half a century or longer, and suddenly being dependent on a child or spouse can be extremely difficult. A key aspect of a low vision exam is to understand what aspect of vision loss is most difficult to the patient and what tools are available to overcome them. For example we had a patient who was extremely social, and due to macular degeneration could no longer recognize faces of people. For her, the inability to see faces was devastating, and we helped her find special magnified glasses that would help her recognize friends and family. For another patient who had vision loss from Diabetic Retinopathy, the patches of vision made him bump into things and fall. He was very concerned about not being able to continue living on his own. We were able to help him with special prisms that redirected the image to a healthier part of his eye.
Get superior care when you schedule an appointment for a low vision evaluation at our renowned optometry clinic in Hixson, attracting patients from nearby Chattanooga, Cleveland, and Middle Valley. Call (423) 321-8233 or fill out this form to make an appointment today.
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