Post Title:  3 Ways to Move Forward with Sight Loss

2020 is seen as the “year of vision,” playing on 20/20 (perfect) sight. People in both blind and sighted communities are capitalizing on this play of words—and numbers. Large foundations supporting vision loss use it to focus on awareness. Oprah Winfrey is traveling around the States (maybe even the globe!) interviewing those she feels has a strong vision and is living that out. Some are already tired of the comparisons. I love it.

February is Retinitis Pigmentosa Awareness Month on Facebook. I have seen a lot of campaigns over the last decade as people have come forward with their stories, photos of their beautiful but flawed eyes, and a new self-compassion.

Today I want to share something of value with you. For me, my 20/20 hindsight vision started with inner and external dialogues.

“How can I teach again if I can’t see my students? And I need the money.”

“Boy, that was a close call. A couple inches further and I would have been toast. I never even saw that car coming.”

“Move it lady, you just cut in line. Who do you think you are?”

Sometimes, as painful as it feels at the time, it takes a negative impetus or dilemma to propel us forward. Perhaps we are caught in a web of denial, thinking our sight “isn’t that bad” (as I did), psychologically pushing against the anger of those who do not understand our challenges and clinging to the comfort of the familiar.

Maybe it’s a financial strain. Or it could even be a near miss, or even greater danger. It took all of these reasons to propel me to make the necessary changes to better my life.

Looking back on those days, if I were a vehicle, I would have been a l-e-m-o-n. My tires were nearly flat, and wobbled as if I were often riding on the rim of a couple of wheels. I longed for the old sturdy ones I used to have. But I thought, These ones are fine. They get me where I need to go.

I didn’t have a lot of psychological dinero to invest in myself.

My tires passed inspection earlier—but for how long? When it came time to seal the leaks, or put new rims on them, I resisted. Instead, I took the cheaper option. Yes, I headed over to the air pump. So every couple of days, I filled the continual leak with air from the local gas station instead of assessing better options and tools.

What if I (and you, by extension) didn’t wait for those crisis moments to come?

What if we decided to become pro-active in advance? Head off the wobbles, the slow leaks, the dangers and the misfit / misunderstood feelings?

My ride would have been so much different those couple of years I refused to put myself in the shop!

Here are 3 ways you can avoid what I went through.

  1. Seek out facts / diagnostics about your situation.

The first step would be to see a knowledgeable professional – you can start with a regular optometrist if you suspect a change in your vision and have never had problems previously. He or she will recommend an ophthalmologist or retinal specialist if one is needed.

If you know you have a condition but have been able to “get by,” push past the fear. Let your inner dialogue be I am on top of this and am going to look into the tools I need to keep this car running smoothly.

  1. Seek emotional, psychological and /or practical support.

Nowadays, you can find this at the press of a button. The Internet is a great source of support for almost any condition we struggle with. There are new support groups coming out all the time. There are general sight support groups like the Blind and Vision-Impaired Community or more specific ones, such as the

Retinitis Pigmentosa Family Support Group with over 14,000 members. Many go through similar losses and it’s helpful to read their perspective and the responses of others to feel connected and no longer alone. VisionAware is an outstanding source of practical information focusing on those with new sight loss to complete blindness.

But don’t forget to seek out help in your own community through the state. You can often find contact numbers and addresses through your ophthalmologist or by referral. You can also find them by seeking vision loss resources by state on the Internet.

I found the counselor so helpful. I didn’t feel so strange or “estranged” from others after talking to her and seeking advice as to how to deal with specific challenges. We even role played what I could say.

There may also be local sight support groups in your area that can be of great value. Face-to-face meetings connect in ways others online don’t. Shared backgrounds (and sometimes common friends), knowledge of the same city or area and fun activities lift depression or loneliness.

  1. Seek rehabilitation or Orientation & Mobility (O&M) services.
    It is challenging to take this step but, oh-so-life-changing! Rehabilitation teaches someone who has lost a chunk of—or all their sight—how to safely and competently complete daily life activities again in order to regain independence or remain functional. These usually involve life skills at home – doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, self-care, and even Braille. State rehabilitation centers often set up a plan with an individual in advance. The program can be with others and for an extended period of time or at your home on a topic-by-topic basis. I remember learning how to thread a needle by using a bar of soap and dental floss.

The state usually provides O&M training for the area you live. You can also tailor this program to what is needed. While every city maynot have resources or this provision, don’t give up. Keep seeking. Local Lions Clubs, and other civic organizations may provide the funding needed for training. Alternative to the state provision is Guide Dogs of America (GDA) or Leader Dogs for the Blind training, which is provided free to sight-impaired individuals through the support of donations to that organization or associated donations (for example, lions clubs are associated with leader dogs.

blind woman with guide dog walking down stairsI met a delightful woman online who traveled to Leader Dogs in Michigan for a week and learned O&M (cane) training. She was over the moon with joy—actual joy—and couldn’t say enough positive testimony about her experience there, including free meals, lodging and airfare, as well the actual cane training.

Friends and readers, moving forward and instituting change begins inside with inner dialogue. Feed yourself positive words, and how your life will improve. Surround yourself with those who support you and change.

Happy February and Retinitis Pigmentosa Awareness Month!  Please do share this post with others you know who need encouragement or a big nudge forward! Keep this post as a resource.

What is holding you or someone you know back? Share in the comments below.

You have just read “3 Ways to Move Forward with Sight Loss” by Amy L. Bovaird. © February 4, 2020. All rights reserved.

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5 Stars “…I’m not vision impaired. I don’t read non-fiction for enjoyment. I am not what some might consider the target market for this book, but I can tell you that I would recommend it to my own teenagers, my husband, my teenage students, and anyone else I know as a book of bravery, encouragement, motivation, testimony, and just as a pleasure read. Don’t pass it by: You will be blessed.”–An Amazon Reader

–An Amazon Reader

5 Stars   “Living in the Power instead of the fear!”

Mobility Matters elegantly shares Amy Bovaird’s emotions and experience which anyone going through vision loss can identify with. The transformation as she overcomes her fear and the enemies voices that her loss of vision will now define who she is as a person and dictate the rest of her life, will inspire hope to each reader. Amy’s journey stepping out in faith and how the Lord’s Word gave her the strength to keep going, is a must read.

This book is not only for those going through the hallway of vision loss, but for each family member or any one who loves someone losing their vision would also benefit by reading.

Mobility Matters Stepping out in Faith has left me thinking I will now call canes power sticks!!!

Michael Benson, Founder
Visual Experience Foundation

Michael Benson, Founder, Visual Experience Foundation

4 Stars  “…As a mobility specialist myself, I found this book of great interest to me for its subject matter. I was quite amazed that Amy could get around on her own with her genetic condition, particularly at night, since individuals with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) tend to lose their night vision and are using a cane at night much sooner than Amy was using any assistive device (even a bright light). Amy maintained her positive attitude, her faith and her sense of humour. If only we all could do that in times of crisis!” –Kathryn Svendsen, Mobility Specialist, Canada

–Kathryn Svendsen

5 Stars  “Couldn’t stop reading until I finished. Very inspirational. Will definitely be looking for more by this author!” –Sharon Hannah

–Sharon Hannah

5 stars “…This book really inspired me. Amy’s outlook on life is what I would like to model in my own. Yes, going blind SUCKS but she took it to another level. She made it into an adventure and I needed to be reminded of that again. Her positive outlook on this all has really encouraged me in my current situation now. Taking the step of faith to move on forward and embrace life for what it is. I highly recommend purchasing this book! Be inspired, take a journey behind the life of someone with Usher, smile, laugh, and enjoy! –Andi Nicole

–Andi Nicole

5 Stars “As a person who lives with chronic illness, I sometimes get bogged down with books on illness that feel really heavy. This one does not. Author Amy Bovaird, who is losing her sight, writes so well about her personal experiences, I feel like I’m walking alongside her as I read. I kept coming back to the story to see what happened–was she going to let fear stop her? Would she overcome?
The lessons Amy learns through her experiences apply to any of us who fear aging, illness, new symptoms, or really anyone who needs some inspiration, and that reminder that much can be accomplished if you step out and forward–even when you cannot see beyond that first step. I definitely enjoyed this book. –Kimberly Rae, Bestselling Author of the Stolen Series

–Kimberly Rae, Your Content Goes Here

Blog post review by Gillian Davis, RP Tunnel of Sight
One of the best books I have ever read about mobility and white cane use is called Mobility Matters: Stepping out in Faith by Amy Bovard. It is funny, poignant and packs a lot of tips and useful information. You can find it by following the link below to Amy’s web page and listen to a chapter before you buy, it is wonderful.

Gillian Davis, RP Tunnel of Sight

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