Adjustment to vision loss is a process. Each person adjusts in their own time and manner. There is no “right” way to deal with this major life change.
This adjustment process is very similar to the stages of grief you experience when you lose a loved one. You may feel as though you are grieving the loss of your sighted self.
You usually move through the stages in the order listed below. But not always. You may skip a step. Or, you may advance one step, then fall two steps back when a new challenge arises. There is no specific time frame for each stage. You may need a few weeks to go through one stage, but only a few days for the next.
Even when you reach acceptance, some of these feelings may pop up again. Additional loss of vision may also trigger the cycle.
Shock and disbelief are common responses when you realize that your vision is not coming back and may even get worse. You need time to absorb the news.
When you are in denial, you may believe a medical miracle or your faith is going to provide a cure. If your vision is not going to return, it is important that you hear that information from a doctor. Only then can you move past it. There is nothing wrong in hoping for the future, but you must live for today and tomorrow.
You may feel very depressed and hopeless about your vision loss. You may find yourself withdrawing from normal social interaction. You may focus on what you perceive to be your many new limitations.
The adjustment process may cause you to spend a great deal of time reflecting on what you still value in life. You may think about what is important to you. Many aspects of life that everyone values such as being a good friend, being kind and compassionate, and helping others have nothing to do with vision loss. Through this process, you will reach a “turning point.” You will start to look forward instead of dwelling on negative feelings.
At this stage, you start to seek proof that a different life is possible. You may do research to find resources or training that will help you attain this different, more independent life. Support groups and Independent Living Skills can provide you with these resources and training that show you how to live independently with vision loss.
As new skills and knowledge are gained, you reach a point of self-acceptance and increased self-esteem. You may event seek ways to inspire and share your knowledge with others who are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and angry.