Dealing with sight loss at 71

Joseph, now 71 years old from Ernakulam, Kerala first encountered the challenge of losing vision when he was 10. It was myopia, more commonly known as near-sightedness and he never knew it was the beginning of a road less taken. He fixed the situation temporarily with a pair of glasses although his vision was deteriorating gradually. With no knowledge of it and no visible challenges earlier, he lived an independent life taking care of his business, wife and two daughters. At his prime, he also drove around in Ernakulum town for business and society until he confronted the reality on one such drives.

Joseph met with Eyeway counselor in Little Flower Hospital (LFH), Ernakulum, Kerala. He lost almost 90 percent of his vision over the years and was largely dependent on his wife. It was 20 years before and a usual business drive when Joseph felt a darkness clouding his vision. If not for his presence-of-mind, the moment could have been fatal too. Doctors diagnosed Retinal Detachment in both his eyes and prescribed a surgery. However, surgery restored the retina in one eye and the other eye sustained only minimum vision. Since then his vision has been deteriorating and Joseph has been wading through his life without having any knowledge on living life with blindness.

Now Joseph desires to do at least few things independently; he thinks he should help himself and his family doing so. On meeting the Eyeway counselor, Joseph and his wife shared his challenges and desires. His lack of knowledge about living life with blindness had constricted his thinking. All what Joseph wanted to know was whether he could read newspapers himself and improve his mobility. The counselor was faced with the challenges of not just giving options to enhance his daily-living but also bringing back hope to a 71-year-old visibly hopeless man.

The counselor gave several assistive technology options to read and listen to daily news and events. Information on various mobile apps, online portals, android phones etc. was explained to him to start with. Since Joseph has never been a smart-phone user, he needs some basic training to use assistive devices. Joseph will undergo training from the Eyeway counselor on using technology for daily needs as well as learning to move around independently with a smart cane. We believe these sessions of training and interaction with the Eyeway counselor will also help Joseph to see possibility of an independent life despite blindness.