Rivke Reid: Lost helping someone visually impaired 

Published: 07-25-2023 2:00 PM

The coverage of Andrew Leland’s memoir gave me some hope [“A radically distinct way of being in the world,” Gazette, July 21]. I am lost helping someone close to me get help and advice on adapting to living with low vision.

She lost most of her vision over a year ago. I helped her and her spouse move to assisted living near me here in the Valley when it became dangerous to do things like cook meals.

For six months I’ve struggled to get any help for her. There are a remarkable number of adaptive devices on the market but I don’t know what would work best. The ongoing shortage of medical care is a big part of the problem. After three and half months, she finally was able to see a primary care doctor for the first time — after several ER trips after hurting herself falling.

We’re still waiting to see an ophthalmologist. We found one who can take a new patient but it will be October before the first appointment.

The Mass Commission on Blind and Visually Impaired has experts and services that can vastly improve her life. But they can’t offer services until we get a certificate of legal blindness, which requires an ophthalmologist! So they can’t offer anything for now.

Leland’s memoir gives me some hope we may eventually get her the expert help to learn what adaptive technology is available and may work best for her needs.

She’s 90 years old, and in excellent health aside from her sight and hearing and recent injuries caused by tripping over things she can’t see. I’m afraid she will lose her will to keep going. Each fall seems to weaken her spirit and cause more withdrawal. This is not the fault of uncaring providers.

Everyone in the medical systems has been dedicated and hard working. There’s just not enough people in the professions involved. Also the incredible fragmentation of medical care despite corporate consolidation makes everything complicated.

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I’m not sure if Leland’s memoir gives me hope, or if it reflects what used to be available back when his sight was lost. I fear the latter may be the case.

And I just don’t know what else to do. I’ve made so many phone calls and found so little help. I find I too am losing hope.

Rivke Reid