People living with sight loss can live a fulfilling life achieving their full potential.  However, being newly diagnosed with a sight impairment can be an overwhelming experience, where a new way of living seems impossible to adjust to.  Indeed, people living with sight loss face different challenges from day to day.    VIPsychotherapy can assist you to overcome your individual challenges that living with a sight impairment can present.

Hope is being able to see the light despite all of the darkness.” Desmond Tutu

The paragraphs below offer a brief overview of the research surrounding sight loss.

The website NHS Choices (2014) defines ‘Sight impaired’ or Visually Impaired (VI)’ where a   person’s eye sight is below the recommended vision (6/6) and cannot be corrected by glasses or contact lenses. The UK charity RNIB (2008) states there are 1.9 million people living with sight impairment in the UK and forecasts this figure to double by (2050). Interestingly, The UK Vision Strategy (2012), emphasises that there are 380,000 people of working age living with irreversible sight loss. In particular, the research underlines that people living with sight loss are five times more likely to not be in paid work compared with the general public or people with other disabilities. Indeed, the review highlights that educational attainment is a key enabler in assisting VI people in securing paid employment and improving their own quality of life.

The academic research highlights that people living with sight loss can come across many challenges in their daily life. Sight loss may affect a person’s physical health, physical mobility, emotional well-being and social connectedness. According to, De Leo, Hickey, Meneghel, & Cantor, (1999) they believe that sight loss brings about significant psychological distress compared with any other sensory impairment.   Moreover, The RNIB (2014) and Thurston (2010) consider that people newly diagnosed with a sight loss (less than 2 years) are significantly more likely to experience depression and suicidal ideation.

It is also important to note the work of Cooper, Cooper, & Eaker (1988), they further emphasise that VI may be classed as a significant life changing event. In fact, they consider that people facing life changing events are more likely to be more susceptible to stress. Equally important, Senra, Oliveira, & Leal (2011), put forward a ‘model of adjustment’; highlighting that the person’s awareness and view in relation to their VI are intrinsic elements within adjustment. More specifically, Burmedi, Becker, Heyl, Wahl, & Himmelsbach (2002), underline that VI directly influences a person’s behavioural competence (performance) with regards to completing daily living activities.

Another important point to note, centres on a person’s emotions. Dreer, Elliott, Fletcher, Swanson, & McNeal (2010), review emotional distress in VI people.   They stress that a person’s emotional distress is not associated with severity of VI. Indeed, they emphasise two areas considered to influence emotional distress. Firstly, the person’s cognitive appraisal of their capabilities to accept VI. Secondly, they highlight that the person’s evaluation of the disruption (arousal) that the VI may have whilst carrying out specific activities (behaviours) influences a person’s level of emotional distress. Indeed it may be debated that sight impairment is a complex dynamic concept. In particular, people living with sight loss are more susceptible to experience stress, depression and anxiety during different times of their life (school, adolescent, transition to secondary school, university, transition to adult services and employment).

Acknowledging the above information, VI Psychotherapy offers CBP to assist people to improve their own quality of life.  NICE (National Insitute for  Health and Care Excellence) recommends CBP for people experiencing depression and anxiety related disorders as a first line evidence based talking therapies treatment. VIPsychotherapy uses evidence based interventions which are accessible for people living with a sight impairment.  For further information please do not hesitate to contact us.

References

Access Economics. (2008). Future Sight Loss UK 1: Economic Impact of Partial Sight Loss and Blindness in the UK Adult Population. London: RNIB.

Burmedi, D., Becker, S., Heyl, V., Wahl, H.-W., & Himmelsbach, I. (2002). Behavioral consequences of age-related low vision. Visual Impairment Research, 15-45.

Cooper, C. L., Cooper, R. D., & Eaker, L. H. (1988). Living With Stress (1st ed.). London: Penguin.

De Leo, D., Hickey, P. A., Meneghel, G., & Cantor, C. H. (1999). Blindness, fear of sight loss, and suicide. Psychosomatics, 339-344.

Dreer, L. E., Elliott, T. R., Fletcher, D. C., Swanson, M., & McNeal, C. J. (2010). Cognitive appraisals, distress and disability among persons in low vision rehabilitation. The British Journal of Health Psychology, 449-461.

NHS Choices. (2014, October 25). Visual Impairment. Retrieved from nhs: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Visual-impairment/Pages/Introduction.aspx

NICE. (2016, June 12). Depression in adults: recognition and management. Retrieved from nice.org.uk: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/CG90

RNIB. (2014, October 24). Evidence Based Review: People of Working Age. London, UK.

Senra, H., Oliveira, R., & Leal, I. (2011). From self-awareness to self-identification with visual impairment: a qualitative study with working age adults at a rehabilitation setting. Clinical rehabilitation, 1140-1151.

The Royal National Insitute of Blind People. (2014, March 31). UK Vision Strategy. Retrieved from ukvisionstrategy.org: http://www.ukvisionstrategy.org.uk/about-strategy/what-strategy

Thurston, M. (2010). An inquiry into the emotional impact of sight loss and the counselling experiences and needs of blind and partially sighted people. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 3-12.

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