Glaucoma and Living with Vision Loss

Glaucoma is a degenerative eye disease that can permanently damage a person’s ability to see. Whether from Open Angle glaucoma, where the damage to sight develops slowly and is a lifelong problem, or from Angle-Closure glaucoma where the drainage angle in the eye is blocked by the iris and cornea closing together, losses to vision cannot be repaired or healed.

Living with vision loss, in its varying degrees can be a challenge. Low Vision refers to the effects of glaucoma affecting a person’s sight enough that they begin to struggle with the tasks of their daily lives and routine, even with corrective lenses or contacts. People with low vision can struggle with light; Glaucoma patients are extremely sensitive to light and too much light can hurt them, make it harder for them to see, or further damage their vision. They are very susceptible to direct or extreme amounts of sunlight. Some patients with glaucoma experience a glare from the sun, indoor lights, or digital screens that make it hard for them to see contrast. Some patients use tinted lenses to aid their vision in well-lit situations.

People who don’t find their diagnosis until late stages of the disease or have an acute attack could have to traverse a world as a person with peripheral vision loss or blindness. Losing your sight is no small change, it is a huge shift in your life that will require lots of time and support to adjust to. But living with vision loss doesn’t have to be impossible and there are ways to ease your transition.

  1. Talk to your doctor

Your relationship to glaucoma, the severity of your disease, the amount of progression are all specific to your life. Knowing what you’re up against will give you a sense of control over your diagnosis and an ability to prepare for what’s to come.

  1. Seek out a Therapist or Support Group

Losing your vision is a huge life change, and a hard one to attempt alone. Changes in your vision can cause depression and anxiety, but talking to a psychiatrist or psychologist can help you deal with your changing ability to see. Some people benefit from behavioral medications, but talk to your doctor first to make sure they don’t interfere or interact with your glaucoma treatment. Support groups are also a great tool. Getting to know other people who have lost their sight or have a loved one who is becoming blind can provide insight, support, and show you that you’re not alone.

  1. Prepare for your level of Vision Loss

Talking to your doctor should illuminate the amount of vision loss you can expect with your diagnosis. Making adjustments while you still have your current sight can help you transition to when you don’t. For example, if you are expecting to lose most or all of your sight, you may want to make your home very organized so that you can find things if you can’t see them. You may want to rearrange your furniture so that it’s more accessible, or you may want to employ someone to care for you, or stay with family and friends until you can adjust.

  1. Seek out Independent Living Courses

Independent living courses are a wonderful tool to teach people how to thrive despite not having their full sight. These courses can teach you how to read braille, how to travel safely, how to use a cane while walking, how to cook, and other essential life skills that can be scary without sight. Some schools also offer classes for family members to take so they can learn to assist you better.

  1. Don’t give up

As scary as it is to lose your vision, there are people with varying degrees of vision loss that aren’t just surviving, but thriving and truly living. Losing your sight doesn’t have to mean losing your passions, hobbies, or skills. Your new perspective is a unique one and your voice is still important and deserves to be heard. In addition, taking up a creative expression can help you deal with the emotional burden that can come with worrying about your vision. There are blind theater, blind painters, blind rappers, and blind writers all telling their story with their unique vision. Let them inspire you.