Low-vision rehabilitation centers help you deal with your vision loss, but they should also encourage family members to participate. Family members can learn how to help with orientation and mobility, occupational therapy, vision rehabilitation, and vocational training. If the family member has a hard time coping, psychological counseling might help.
Besides the search for the best possible medical care, counseling should be a major prong in your game plan. This might include finding a low-vision treatment program. Too many with vision loss don’t even know the variety of services and tools out there that can help! Different organizations specialize in services for the blind and have a long history of experience.
The American Foundation for the Blind has an excellent state-by-state directory of low-vision rehabilitation services nationwide. Go to their website to find a treatment program in your area. To find other helpful websites please visit the SAVIR-information box which shows you updated information on websites that are of interest to the visually impaired and blind.
Another useful link is VisionAware, a website run by the American Foundation for the Blind, which gives valuable information on how to deal with vision loss. Their eye care professionals can help you set up a treatment plan and get psychological counseling if you need it. You also can read up on treatments for eye diseases in the United States at the National Eye Institute’s website, and the Vision Council in Alexandria, Virginia, offers additional resources. In Europe, go to Euroblind’s website.
Many patients are not aware that there is low-vision therapy available to them. Too often some eye doctors are not referring their patients to low-vision centers because they may not know such places exist. When you meet with a low-vision therapist, he or she should develop a treatment plan and help you put it into action. The objective is to teach you how to live a normal life despite your poor eyesight.
The specialist will observe how well you perform activities of daily living, like dressing, grooming, walking, and using eye devices. Expect an evaluation of your work, social activity performance, and level of education. There are a number of vision improvement devices you can learn to use.
Visual restoration training and brain pacemaker treatment, noninvasive procedures Prof. Sabel pioneered, are among the options that can improve vision. These treatments may prove useful if you have age-related vision loss, like glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy, which results in blind spots in your vision, or if you suffer optic nerve or brain injury.
If you and your family have trouble coping with your vision loss, consider psychological counseling for everyone. Once you’ve set goals for your new life with less of your vision and more of your other senses, any psychotherapy you seek should be tailored to those goals.
A good therapist can help with coping skills as well as depression. But beware that counseling is not a one-size-fits-all deal. There are several types of therapy to consider. Just as in other professions, there are excellent and poor services. So observe critically whether the counseling specialist really fits your needs and can offer useful advice to improve your health. Use your common sense along with your gut feeling to judge if the therapist is good for you. Just ask yourself if it makes sense what you are hearing. Psychological counseling helps with more general psychological issues, such as anxiety, depression, or confusion about your personal goals in life. This should not be merely an alternative to vision rehabilitation but a supplement to improve your general mental health status. This too has an impact on your vision.