Living with sight problems

Changes to vision – whether they’re temporary or longer lasting – can have a major impact on your life.

They can affect almost all aspects of daily life, including work, driving and leisure activities such as reading or watching TV. You may find it’s harder to do the things you normally do, or you may have to ask someone else to help you.

However your vision is affected, there are usually things you can do to make it easier for you to carry out your normal activities.

These range from simple things like using overhead lights rather than lamps to make your home brighter, to gadgets that can help you around the home and at work.

Contact the RNIB or the Disabled Living Foundation for more information and to find out about the range of equipment you can use to make the most of your sight.

Many of these items, as well as other practical suggestions for managing around the home, are available through social care services (or social work in Scotland) following an assessment by an occupational therapist.

Read more about social care assessments.

Identifying triggers

Many people with MS who have problems with their vision find certain triggers, such as heat or fatigue, can make their vision temporarily worse. If that’s the case for you, then you may need to plan around it so you can avoid potential triggers at times when it’s especially critical that you can see well.

For example, if you know fatigue makes your sight worse, you may plan not to drive at times when you’re likely to be fatigued. Or you may give yourself extra time to allow for breaks in your journey.

As with everything to do with MS, it’s very individual. It may take some time to work out what affects your vision, and what changes you can make to tackle it.

More lasting sight problems

While most people with MS don’t have any lasting problems with their vision, a small minority do.

If you have problems with your sight that can’t be corrected by glasses or contact lenses, you can be referred to a low vision service. These services are normally located in hospital eye departments, and their aim is to help you make the most of your remaining eyesight.

Rehabilitation workers will work with you to solve practical problems, such as getting about safely, and can teach you daily living skills. They may, for example, suggest magnifying devices or other equipment that can help you. Or they may give you advice on using different techniques, such as specific eye movements.

The RNIB has more information about low vision services and how to access them, as well as the various different professionals involved in eye care.

Coping with the impact of sight problems

Coming to terms with a long-term sight problem can be difficult. Changes to your vision can have a major impact on you both practically and emotionally, and this can sometimes be overwhelming. If this affects you, there is support available from the MS Society.

The RNIB also offers a telephone service for people who are experiencing emotional difficulties because of sight loss. You can don’t need to be blind to get support from the RNIB – they can help anyone with any degree of sight loss.

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