Blog Home > Blog > Navigating Vision Loss as a Caregiver: Signs and Challenges to Expect

As we age, the possibility of worsening vision grows. Certain diseases and medications can also trigger vision loss. Losing your vision in any capacity is a terrifying prospect. As a caregiver, there are physical and emotional challenges that will affect your loved one. As their vision worsens, understanding them will help you as you care for them through this process. This article will help you navigate vision loss as a family caregiver. Let’s dive in.

Signs of Vision Loss

There are a lot of ways vision loss can manifest. The symptoms can start mild and get worse, or start suddenly. Some of the symptoms your loved one may notice include:

  • Physical pain and/or discomfort in the eyes
  • Sudden change in vision
  • Black spots (increase in the number or size)
  • Loss of vision in the center of your eye or peripherals
  • Blurry vision 
  • Double vision
  • Difficulty focusing 
  • Increase in the number of floating spots
  • A new or increased sensitivity to light
  • A new or increased difficulty seeing in low light
  • Loss of clarity in your vision 

One of the problems with this condition is that it’s not always obvious if your loved one doesn’t mention it. So if you suspect vision impairment, paying attention to subtle signs they’re losing their vision becomes important. 

This includes things like:

  • Increased tripping or squinting
  • Struggling to focus on things
  • More scratches or dents on their vehicle
  • Increased headaches
  • Etc.

Challenges You Can Expect

Vision loss comes with a lot of expected and unexpected challenges you and your loved one will need to navigate. These can range from depression to difficulties with everyday tasks. Let’s briefly touch on what challenges you and your loved one may encounter so you have a better idea of what to expect.

Problems with Daily Activities

Worsening vision creates difficulties in many aspects of daily life. From driving and running errands to work and housekeeping. Here are some things you can do to make life a little easier for daily activities at home:

  • Improve/increase lighting. 
  • Color code foods and medications.
  • Rearrange furniture as needed (like moving a lamp near the bed/couch or getting furniture with varied textures to help differentiation and familiarity).
  • Remove tripping hazards (like a rug with curled edges, clutter, children’s toys, or cords).
  • Use texture to your advantage (textured stickers, rubber bands, adhesives, etc. to make patterns, words, or other indicators).
  • Install hand railings.
  • Add lighting to dark areas like inner cabinets, stairs, or ledges (LED strip lighting, for example)
  • Remove glares that can distract (like glossy surfaces, ill-placed mirrors, etc.).
  • Consider adaptive technologies as needed (like home devices that offer audio support).

Emotional Challenges that Accompany Vision Loss

Not only are there physical challenges that come with vision impairment, but the emotional challenges can be equally (if not more) difficult. Many experts have compared the emotional adjustment to vision loss to the five stages of grief.

  • Stage 1 – Denial. The first thing most people experience is a period (or several phases) of denial. A vision loss diagnosis is incredibly overwhelming for a lot of reasons, so it understandably takes time to adjust.
  • Stage 2 – Anger. As they work toward accepting the diagnosis, the next most common reaction is, “Why me?” Anger is a natural and expected emotion with this diagnosis.
  • Stage 3 – Bargaining. Helplessness often creates a desire to bargain with fate, a preferred deity, etc. Saying things like “If I just get my vision back, I swear I’ll do X.”
  • Stage 4 – Depression. Most people with this diagnosis at some point feel alone. Those feelings (that no one understands, that they’re alone, etc.) can create a sense of hopelessness, isolation, and may potentially go as far as depression.
  • Stage 5 – Acceptance. Finally, acceptance begins to slink in – offering feelings of hope and optimism for the new paths ahead.

As a caregiver, you will play an integral role in their lives as they move through these stages. Now you have an idea of what to expect and what’s normal as this unfolds. 

Closing Thoughts: Caring for Someone With Vision Loss

If you are caring for someone dealing with vision loss, we invite you to check out our library resources. The California Caregiver Resource Center is a 501c(3) nonprofit network of 11 Centers covering the entire state of California here to help connect you with medical resources and support in this journey.

To get more information about the resources we have available to you as a California caregiver, contact us at the California Caregiver Resource Center nearest to you or join CareNav for free today. 

Further Reading: How to Support Independent Living: Keeping Your Loved One Safe and in Their Home

As a family caregiver in California, you know that supporting your loved ones at home is a growing challenge. You are essential in helping them stay independent. In this guide to independent living, we’ll show you how to safely support your loved one(s) in their independent living goals. Click here to read all about it.

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