V ision loss is a major public health concern in the
United States. People who have vision loss commonly
experience depression, anxiety, and confusion. The
consequences of vision loss however, often extend beyond
the person who has low vision. The family members,
friends, and caregivers of people experiencing vision loss
also are affected.
When a loved one becomes visually impaired, you are likely
to feel overwhelmed. You also may experience a range of
feelings, from sadness to guilt, and there are many day-today
adjustments to make. You may find yourself putting
aside your feelings and needs to focus on helping your loved
one cope. Yet, in many cases, you may feel alone and at
a loss about what to do or how to help. It is important to
communicate your feelings with others.
By sharing your feelings, you are in a better position to
be more accepting of yourself and understand that what
you and your loved one are experiencing is not isolated
Answering the following questions may help you express
your thoughts and concerns:
• What feelings have you experienced since your loved one
became visually impaired?
• In what ways has your life changed since your loved one’s
vision loss? Are there things that you’ve had to give up? How
do you feel about these changes?
• What feelings are most difficult for you to accept and deal
• What do you do with these feelings? Are you able to share
them with your loved one?
• Has your loved one’s vision loss brought you closer
together in any way? If yes, how?
When sharing your thoughts and concerns with your loved
one, it is important to remember that communication
involves both verbal and nonverbal expressions. When we
think about communication, what usually comes to mind is
the verbal aspect of communication. But communication
also involves receiving information through listening. And
most communication is nonverbal, which poses challenges
when talking to people who are visually impaired, as they
may not be able to see gestures, nods, facial expressions,
and other visual cues.
Here are some strategies that can help you communicate
more effectively and deal with difficult situations involving
strong emotions and conflict:
Listen to what the other person is saying as well as the
feelings behind the words. This type of listening is hard
when you may not want to hear “anger” or “frustration,”
when you are feeling “attacked” or “criticized,” or when
you disagree with the other person. At these times, it’s
helpful to let the person finish what he or she has to say
Express your feelings or point of view with the use of the
word “I.” For example, “I feel upset about” or “I see it
differently” rather than “You are being unfair” or “You
After each person has a chance to share his or her feelings
and point of view using “I” statements, ask each other: “Are
there areas of common ground?” Sometimes, you may have
to agree to disagree and come back to the issue later.
Source: National Eye institute