Catastrophic injuries: Vision loss

One of the most catastrophic injuries someone can suffer in an accident is the loss of sight. Whether full or partial vision loss, the sudden upset to a victim's entire world is immediate and hard for everyone -- including friends and family -- to handle.

It helps if you can try to understand what the injured, blinded individual is feeling -- as much as possible -- and learn what you can do to help his or her situation.

What the blind person is feeling

While everyone is unique, there are some common threads among those who suffer from any sudden, catastrophic disability:

  • A sense of isolation -- they may be afraid to express anger, frustration, rage or any other scary emotions to their loved ones if they're just venting -- they don't want to put a bigger burden on those they love and they know the condition can't be fixed.
  • Fear of loss -- while the big loss has already happened, there are a lot of little losses that the newly blind still haven't faced (or don't know if they'll have to face). Most are afraid that they're going to lose their sense of personal identity. How do you retain your sense of self when there is a big new thing that -- for now -- is redefining everything in your life?
  • Fear of dependence -- being suddenly blind and dependent on others can make you feel like a child again.

Going blind is a horrible thing to happen, and the emotional effects are as bad as the physical.

What you can do to help the blind person

If you really want to help someone who has been recently blinded in an accident, consider the following:

  • Don't offer medical advice. They're getting all the help that they can and don't want to hear about the latest miracle cure.
  • Don't tell them that it is part of a higher plan. If you really believe that, save it for a time when your friend is clearly feeling philosophic.
  • Do ask what would make things easier for them. Are there devices for the visually impaired that would make life easier for them, like talking watches, voice-to-text and text-to-voice translators for the computer and books on tape?

Above all, counsel them to seek legal help regarding the permanent disability they now suffer to see if they are entitled to compensation.

Source: Lions Center for the Visually Impaired, "Coping With Visual Impairment," accessed Aug. 31, 2017

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