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What does vision loss mean for veterans?

Vision loss means the lack of vision where it existed before. For many people, including war warriors and veterans, vision loss can happen quickly (called acute vision loss) or over a long time (called chronic vision loss). No matter how vision loss occurs, the results can be devastating, especially for veterans who lose their vision immediately from an explosion, car bomb or blast.

The loss of vision during combat is a major traumatic event. Even if the soldier is visually impaired and not blinded, there is still much grieving that must be done to move beyond the event to rehabilitation and restoration. Many believe that whether losing a limb by amputation or one’s vision through a blast or explosion, the soldier will go through the different stages written about by Dr. Kubler-Ross in her celebrated book on the stages of dying.

For example, the individual who loses vision may go through feelings of denial, blame, anger, sorrow and finally acceptance. Each one of the grieving stages takes time. Some soldiers pass quickly through the stages, while others may take days, weeks or perhaps months to reach acceptance.

Before rehabilitation can begin for someone with vision loss or legal blindness, a qualified physician (ophthalmologist) must evaluate visual acuity and visual system functioning to rule out the need for surgical or medical correction.

Resources for veterans with vision loss
There are many low vision resources that can help veteran’s complete daily activities and responsibilities. Low vision aids may include hand magnifiers, magnifying glasses, books with large print, talking computers and calculators and talking clocks and watches. Audiobooks allow veterans to enjoy hearing the classics or the latest bestselling novels.

For veterans with low vision, having good lighting nearby can make all the difference between functioning normally or functioning minimally. A bright light in the den may enable the person to read the newspaper. Stronger bulbs in the kitchen and bathroom can make activities of daily living (ADL) such as cooking, personal hygiene, bathing and dressing much easier.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.