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Good mental health: Emotional wellbeing for older people

If you're an older person who is experiencing a change in your vision, this guide aims to provide reassurance and guidance on emotional wellbeing during this time and into the future.

Whether you have a diagnosis of your eye condition or you are currently having some tests carried out, you may be feeling a range of emotional responses or feelings. It’s important to remember that everyone reacts differently; it’s common to experience low mood as we age and having difficulties with our sight can make this feel more acute. You may find that you are feeling:

  • Worried – it’s natural to feel anxious, especially if you have lived a healthy life until now and you aren’t used to visiting hospitals or having to speak with doctors.
  • Angry – you may find that you feel cross at your current situation, particularly if you are waiting on a diagnosis or have a long wait for treatment.
  • Embarrassed – often people who find their vision is changing feel a sense of shame as they aren’t able to do the things they used to do; this can often be when they have to give up driving and they perhaps have been the main driver in the household.
  • Discouraged – you may find that you feel sadness at your change in vision. Perhaps you haven’t met anyone who has sight loss before and may be concerned about how to manage daily life.

Remember there is no right, or wrong, way to feel. Your emotional reactions are unique to you and are just as important as anyone else’s. If your feelings are troublesome, or you are finding them difficult to cope with, there are some things you can try.

These include:

  • Gather information and ask questions – if you feel unsure about what your eye condition is or what treatments might be involved it can help to ask questions at your eye appointment. When you feel better informed about your own body you will feel more confident in your abilities.
  • Talk to family and friends about your vision – often people find that as their vision changes, they need to adjust how they manage daily tasks. Family and friends can find it difficult to relate to this and you may find it difficult to accept help.
  • Talking openly and honestly about not only your sight but also your feelings can help to prevent points of conflict and misunderstanding.

Further support and information

If you have macular degeneration you may find our guide to age-related macular degeneration helpful. The Macular Society also has lots of information and you can call them on 0300 3030 111.

Your local sensory support team can offer a range of help and practical support. You can ask for their contact details from your eye doctor (or eye clinic).

Remember, while life may be different for you as your vision changes, you are still the wonderful, unique person you have always been. You deserve to feel confident and happy.