In the UK, there are almost 2 million people living with sight loss. Of these, around 360,000 are registered as blind or partially sighted. Being told you have a visual impairment that can’t be treated can be difficult to come to terms with. Some people go through a process similar to bereavement, where they experience a range of emotions including shock, anger, and denial, before eventually coming to accept their condition.
If you’re blind or partially sighted, you may be referred to a specialist low-vision clinic, which is often located within a hospital. Staff at the clinic can help you understand your condition and come to terms with your diagnosis. They can also advise you about practical things, such as lighting and vision aids, and let you know about further sources of help and support.
Changes to your home:
Most visually impaired people can continue to live at home. However, you’ll probably need to make some changes to your home, particularly if you live on your own.
Below is a list of some important pieces of equipment you may find useful.
Big-button telephone – both landline and mobile models are available from the RNIB online shop.
Community alarm – this small, wearable device has an alarm button which, if pressed, sends an alarm signal to a response centre, which will alert a nominated friend or carer. Your local authority should be able to provide you with further information.
Bright lighting – bright light bulbs and adjustable lights are essential for your home, particularly in the kitchen and the stairs (areas where you’re most likely to have an accident). Fluorescent bulbs are recommended because they produce the most light and tend to be cheaper in the long term than conventional bulbs.
There are several different methods you can use to get around independently if you have a problem with your vision.
Long cane – You may find a long cane useful when travelling. These type of canes are usually foldable and can help you get around by detecting objects in your path. The cane will also make drivers and other pedestrians aware that you have sight loss.
Guide dogs – The charity Guide Dogs has been providing guide dogs for people with vision loss for many years. Guide dogs can help you get around, and provide both a sense of independence and companionship. If you apply for a guide dog, Guide Dogs provide all the essential equipment free of charge and can also offer financial assistance if needed for things like food or vet costs.