How can I help my kids understand their grandfather's vision loss?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My children aren't sensitive to my father's vision loss from macular degeneration, in part because it's not obvious. My son asked Dad to play catch, for example, which is out of the question. How can I explain to them what Dad can and can't do?

Expert Answers

Lylas Mogk, M.D. is an ophthalmologist and director of the Henry Ford Visual Rehabilitation and Research Center in Grosse Pointe and Livonia, Michigan, and the author of Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight.

Understanding vision loss requires understanding what type of visual impairment a person has. If your parent has age-related macular degeneration, for example, then he has central vision loss, which affects detailed vision. If he had peripheral loss, he would have detail vision but find it hard to get around.

Central vision loss in particular is confusing to others, including grandchildren, because an individual who has it usually can walk around well and make eye contact with others -- so he doesn't appear to have any vision loss.

The best way I've found to demonstrate what someone with total central vision loss is experiencing is to put both fists together on your nose and keep looking right at your fists. Without moving your eyes, see what you can see. If you have your child do this experiment, he'll see that his grandfather can see a lot, but no detail.