First Steps You Can Take

Ten Ways You Can Help a Family Member or Friend Experiencing Vision Loss

The support of family and friends is vital when someone loses their vision. Finding the right information or the best resources can be difficult when you don’t know where to turn or don’t understand the new terminology.

At Second Sense, we can help both you and your loved one discover the options that are available to help you make an informed decision. Below are some of the first steps you can share with your loved one to help them begin their adjustment process.  For additional information, please call us at 312-236-8569 or send an email to Polly Abbott. We are eager to help.

You and Your Doctor

1. Ask Questions Until You Understand

Ask your eye-care professional to clearly explain, and write down, your eye condition.  This will help you explore your treatment options and understand your prognosis.  Ask for a letter stating your condition, acuity and field of vision.  A copy of this letter will serve as proof of legal blindness when applying for many services.

2. See a Low-Vision Specialist

Ask your eye doctor for a referral to a low-vision clinic or specialist.  The low-vision specialist, usually an optometrist, will help you determine your need for magnification devices, lighting and contrast.  See What Is A Low Vision Exam? for more details.

3. Continue to See Your Eye-Care Professional

Visit your eye-care professional annually to monitor vision health.  There are many newsletters about the latest medical advances that you can share with your doctor.

Learning To Do Things Differently

4. Seek Out a Rehabilitation Professional

Rehabilitation training is simply having a professional show you adaptations you can make to perform daily activities with vision loss.  These adaptations help you maintain your independence and reduce stress and frustration.

Available training can include cooking, handwriting, recreational activities, technology and independent travel.  Second Sense can help you create a training plan that best meets your needs. Call Polly Abbott at 312-236-8569 and she will explain how we can help or direct you to a resource in your area.

5. Explore Independent Living Products

There are many products that can help with everyday tasks.  Talking watches help you tell time, large print calendars help you keep appointments and locator markers help you label appliances.  Our Product Center at Second Sense provides individual consultations on a wide variety of products and their use.

6. Investigate Transportation Options

Call the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) to obtain a reduced-fare card and/or to apply for para-transit service.  Your local township or municipality may also have dial-a-ride or voucher taxi services.

Get Connected

7. Stay Informed

Continue to stay informed and entertained by signing up for alternative reading options for books, magazines and newspapers.

  • National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped: The NLS Talking Books program loans audio books and magazines.  A special player is provided free of charge.  Braille books and descriptive videos are also available.  Applications must be completed by a certifying authority stating eligibility criteria have been met.

City of Chicago residents:  Harold Washington Library — 312-757-4654
Suburban residents: Illinois Talking Book Outreach Center –800-426-0709

  • NFB Newsline: Free service using synthetic speech to read local and national newspapers and magazines via the telephone.  Applications can be obtained through NFB or your local Talking Books Center. Call 866-504-7300

8. Find Support

Find a local vision-loss support group in your area to share feelings, exchange ideas and learn about the many resources available to you.  Second Sense offers support groups focusing on topics like coping strategies, communicating with others and depression awareness.  Second Sense can also help you find a local support group in Illinois.

If you are located outside Illinois, visit VisionAware for an online listing of community-based support groups.

9. Sign Up for Free Telephone Directory Assistance

Contact your local telephone service provider to obtain an application for free directory assistance within your area code.

Staying On Track

10 Advocate for Yourself

Involve your family and friends in your rehabilitation plan.  Communicate with them about how and when you may need assistance.  Incorporate the new things you learn into your daily routine.