People dealing with vision loss often find a great benefit in talking with others who understand and live with the same challenges. Connecting with others who are going through similar experiences, provides an opportunity to share first hand knowledge, coping strategies, concerns and emotions. A supportive group can fill the void not addressed by medical care or the support of family and friends.
Support groups may be in-person, tele-support or online communities. The groups may be led by professional or non-professional facilitators. Some groups offer guest speakers and educational programming. They may be offered through a non-profit advocacy group, clinic, hospital, community center or independent entity.
Finding the group with common experience is not usually as easy as a Google search. Access and availability is dependent on location and limits in size.
How to Explore the Possible Options
- Ask Your Physician and Healthcare Team
First inquire with your doctor, or low vision specialist, and their office staff, or patient advocate, for programs they recommend or refer to. They will know of local resources or vision rehab agencies offering support programs. If they have no resources, ask for an introduction to another patient who is adjusting well.
- Contact Vision Rehab Organizations Near You
Reach out to agencies serving people with vision loss in your area. Ask to speak with a counselor or social worker about support groups offered.
- Research Community Center Programs
Senior and community centers are an excellent resource for support groups, particularly focused on age-related vision loss and low vision. If your local center is not providing these programs, ask them if they know of other centers that do.
- Contact Local Chapter Organizations
For support groups serving people with a specific type of vision loss, or disease, it is helpful to contact local groups in your area to learn about support programs offered. In this context, a Google search can give you direct contact info, For macular degeneration, go to MDSupport.org and MacularSociety.org or learn about TeleSupport. Learn about support groups for inherited retinal diseases through local chapters of Foundation Fighting Blindness, and for glaucoma through the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
- Facebook Communities & Support Groups
Search communities and support groups on Facebook that are disease specific or more general in focus: Stargardt Disease, Diabetic Retinopathy, Macular Degeneration, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Low Vision and Blindness.