How can I encourage my parent to want to learn about his eye disease?

1 answer | Last updated: Jul 06, 2010
A fellow caregiver asked...

My parent doesn't want to learn about his age-related eye disease. Why doesn't he understand that knowledge can be helpful? How can I help him want to learn?

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.

Knowledge can be helpful in three ways: It can alleviate fear, it can enable your parent to reduce the risk of progression of a disease, and it can help him overcome the impact of the disease on his daily life. If the knowledge being transmitted doesn't do any of these things, it may not be helpful or well received.

If your parent has age-related macular degeneration, you might begin a conversation by reassuring him that he'll never be totally blind, as all of his vision that's just off center will always remain. Share with your parent the fact that the rate of progression of the disease can be minimized by taking vitamins, wearing sunglasses when exposed to sunlight, and eating dark green leafy vegetables and fish. Finally, help him explore the availability of vision rehabilitation services that will help him continue his activities in spite of his vision loss.

To back up your conversation, I recommend the American Academy of Ophthalmology's SmartSight Patient Handout (click on handout near the middle of the page, under "Materials for Patients"). Titled "Making the Most of Remaining Vision," it discusses all of these issues and provides a resource list.