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Personal Experience

Our mentor Mitzi Tharin began experiencing vision loss at the age of 21 and she is now totally blind. She has worked with different agencies dealing with vision loss issues and has been gainfully employed for over 20 years. One of the most difficult challenges she and her family have encountered has been a simple lack of knowledge of the many resources available to the individual and also to family and friends.




I was a teenager and still living at home when my mother lost her vision. She was traumatized and in a state of shock. I was too and my life changed over night. One day I was a carefree teenager and the next I was needed to help, not only with the house but also with bills. Our entire family had a period of adjustment and we all suffered watching her grieve. She was spunky though and entered a rehab program and she is now happy, confident, and independent. There were times during that first few months that I know she thought I was trying to kill her. It isn't easy to live with someone who is visually impaired. You have to make changes in your life too. I have listed some of the things that I had to learn and I hope they help you.


  • Don't leave the kitchen cabinet and drawers open.
  • Don't leave things in the middle of the floor.
  • Always leave doors either completely open or entirely closed.
  • Always keep doors to stairways closed, if possible. Then they won't take a tumble.
  • Remember to put things like cordless phones and remote controls back where you found them. When you can't see these items they could be right next to them or on the moon.
  • Keep the floor clear of stuff, whether it is your home or theirs. They don't need to take a fall over shoes, purses etc.
  • If you are a guest in their home and you have a drink, take it back to their kitchen. The phrase out of sight out of mind takes on a whole new meaning to the visually impaired.
  • If you borrow something of theirs, be sure to put it back where they had it.


I discovered that my mother didn't like to ask for help. If you are going to the drug store or something, ask if he/she needs something. They will often take you up on that but they won't necessarily ask. Encourage them to contact agencies for assistance with mobility and other forms of training. Always tell them if they are about to leave the house in clothing that doesn't match or if something is wrong with their appearance in general. They would rather be embarrassed at home than out in public. Don't assume that they need or want help. Ask if you can help them. Sometimes they just need to cry, let them. Try to be patient, it may be difficult for you but it is even more so for them.