Are you caring for a wounded warrior who has experienced vision loss due to military combat? Are you struggling to understand his or her condition?
Medical staff from military treatment facilities work to help wounded warriors regain as much sight as possible. However, after your wounded warrior is released, you will assist him or her with daily activities and aid in the recovery process. It's important that you, as a caregiver, become aware of the issues your wounded warrior may face.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, vision impairment or blindness can be caused by damage to any portion of the eye or optic nerve or damage to certain parts of the brain, affecting its ability to receive or process visual information correctly.
Even when wearing protective eyewear, service members may suffer eye injuries from explosions and resulting debris. In many cases, these eye injuries require multiple surgical procedures and treatments.
Many people who experience eye injuries regain partial or total vision; however, many wounded warriors with severe or complex injuries have permanently impaired vision or are blind. Vision impairment is defined as the inability to see objects as clearly as usual or to see as wide an area as usual without moving the eyes or turning the head.
A person with low vision has a significant reduction of visual function that cannot be fully corrected to a normal level by ordinary glasses, contact lenses, or medical treatment. Individuals with severely low vision, or limited vision, can be considered legally blind. Through treatment procedures and therapy, wounded warriors can learn to use specialized equipment to maximize their vision and/or learn to read and write Braille to regain independence.
Wounded warriors who have vision loss or an inability to process visual information correctly may experience many difficult emotions, including grief, fear, shock, anger, and depression. It is important to acknowledge these emotions
You can make relatively simple changes that will help your wounded warrior stay safe and comfortable in your home. Also, you can learn techniques for helping your wounded warrior move easily while traveling outside your home.
For additional resources for caring for persons with vision loss, check out the Family Caregiver Alliance or the American Foundation for the Blind. Contact your local Army installation’s Soldier Family Assistance Center (SFAC) for information about support groups and caregiver support services. For more information on caregiving, visit the VA Caregiver Support website.
Photo 1 provided by stock.xchng; photo 2 provided by the Fort Hood Sentinel.