When asked this questions, many people choose an answer based on personal experience from family or friends who have lost use of one sense or the other. From my 23+ year experience working with patients with severe visual loss, most wish for hearing loss over their vision loss. Again, personal experience is the driver of the answer. Recently, the New York Times newspaper delivered an article on the impact of vision loss entitled, “The Worst That Could Happen? Going Blind, People Say.” It highlights the emotional toll of blindness and its effect on both the person and family.
Vision loss from whatever the cause, is devastating to the person experiencing it. Central vision loss occurs many times from eye diseases such as macular degeneration. This creates problems with many daily activities including reading, driving, and recognizing faces of family or friends. For senior adults who have lived the majority of their life with good vision but now face losing these abilities, it can be an isolating and depressing time of life. Likewise, those that lose peripheral vision face additional challenges in navigating the world. When you lose vision to each side, such as in severe glaucoma or Retinitis Pigmentosa, mobility becomes a test of will instead of an easy, subconscious process. Add to these issues glare and severe light sensitivity and one can easily understand how losing vision to any degree can make life extremely difficult.
According to a study from the Wilmer Eye Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, most individuals feel the loss of vision would be the worst ailment that could happen to them over hearing loss and other physical conditions. Low vision ranks as the third most common cause of physical impairment in those over age 70. A study in 2015 finds roughly 23 million Americans have little sight or have great difficulty seeing with corrective glasses.
Though the numbers sighted above may seem daunting, it calls on all of us to get yearly eye exams to catch possibly sight limiting diseases early. If you know of family history of particular eye conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetes, and even cataracts, then see the eye physicians at EyeXcel for a comprehensive review of your eye’s health. Should you be a person who is already dealing with vision loss from eye disease or injury, schedule a visit in our low vision clinic to find new optical and adaptive solutions to assist with coping and managing the functional limitations of your vision loss. We have many great solutions to improve your independence!