Legally Blind and Married – The Sighted Spouse

by Maurie Hill on August 17, 2011

Picture of a couple getting married and the groom placing the ring on his bride's fingerHere on the Ai Squared blog, we spend an awful lot of time discussing living life as a visually impaired person with all of its struggles, strategies, and successes.  And with organizations such as the NFB , AFB, and local blind agencies, we certainly have a lot of information and support at our disposal.  But what about our spouses?  They drive us around, read us restaurant menus, act as our unpaid personal travel agents, and get interrupted to fix our computers among other things.

I often complain (even if it’s just to myself) of how incredibly long it takes me to do simple things because of my poor vision.  But I never gave much thought to the added burden, responsibilities, and time taken from our respective spouses as they coordinate their extra transportation and grocery shopping duties.  We have our cool techno-gadgets and information sharing blogs like this to keep us on track, but is there any emotional support for our spouses when they get discouraged and overwhelmed?

I Googled away, not expecting much results on this subject and was delighted to discover how wrong I was.  AFB started a message board a few years ago called Help for Sighted Spouses which is simply flooded with heart-wrenching tales from the sighted spouses’ perspectives. The words “overwhelmed” and “guilty” were pervasive.  It even spawned another blog, Support Group for Spouses & Partners of the Legally Blind where sighted spouses can compare notes and give each other helpful ideas and encouragement.  So I’m calling on all sighted partners and spouses to share your thoughts here of what it’s like to live with us!  Or start making your own connections to others from the links above where you are allowed to vent a little.  I’ll try not to be nosy and look to see what my husband has to say about me.

  • Cgettel

    I’m telling your hubby to use an alias!

  • Tamborsharon

    It is good to know that fully sighted people can accept and love those of us with severe vision problems.  Sadly, I have found that too many pre-judge us, and therefore stay away.  In different cultures those of us with disabilities lack the opportunities for love, romance and career, that exist in the USA.

  • Bob

    I am a sighted spouse and my wife of 37 years is totally blind. I have never felt overwhelmed or guilty and I am not sure what I would feel guilty of.  After 37 years we still walk hand in hand and if she had sight we would probably not hold hands as we walk. We have 4 children and she quit work and stayed home for 10 years until the youngest one started school, then she went back to work full time. During the day, she looked after the children by herself and we never had a nanny and grandparents lived too far away to help.  We go shopping together and that meant the six of us going shopping until the oldest one was old enough to babysit.  My mother had good vision but never learned to drive, so my dad took her shopping every week so it seems normal to me that I take my wife shopping.  I do help around the house and it is a lot easier for me to sweep the floor than her because she took the long handle of the broom and got down on her hands and knees to make sure she swept the whole floor and didn’t miss any spots.  As we walk around the neighbourhood I see lots of women cutting the grass and if my wife cut the grass, I would be deprived of the exercise and just sit and watch more tv.
    When  my daughter was in grade seven, a classmate asked her what it was like having a blind mother.  Her answer was that she didn’t know because she never had a different mother to compare her to.  My wife was a member of the PTA and president of the PTA for several years as well as president of the local horticultural society and she also volunteers for the local Garden Club, the crochet club and the local fair.
    Now I realize that I should feel guilty because I never worked as hard as my wife either in the home, at work or in the community.

  • Gail Desnarais

    This discussion is just what I need right now! My husband, who is quite a bit older than me, is dealing with Macular Degeneration. I feel that depression is also getting in the way of his continuing to lead somewhat of a normal life.
    Is anyone dealing with this elderly attitude? By this I mean, rude, selfish, and downright nasty? I know his world is changing daily, but I am at wits ends!

  • Tamborsharon

    I understand your feelings and those of your husband.  I was diagnosed with MD in my mid 40s.  I became very dispondent, depressed. angry … not very nice.  Only after I started attending rehab in Colorado did I begin to understand that there is life after blindness.  Sixteen years later I still miss some of the things I used to do.  But I am OK.  I live independently with my dog guides.  Life could be a lot worse. 

  • Alvinraycole

    In 2002 i was told that i was legally blind i was about 40 yyear old and i was the best at what i did on my wish i had been on for 27 years but my hole world just seen like it did not exist anymore i took everything out on my wife because she was the one working now and i thought that my working day were gone.but there was light at the end of my darkness i am now owner of my business and work to built.

  • aflyte

    I would like to get in touch with aflyte i read your comment just today which you posted on 2/2/2009 and boy do i feel like you i tried to look at your 69 replies but couldnt find them if you get this message then please contact me on my email address theresa xxx

  • Mike Svensson

    Hello everyone, i have a friend who was also blind but after prophet dibia prayed for him, he received his sight. He has his life back. You can contact prophet dibia via his mail. Goodluck

  • Connie Foy-Armstrong

    My husband woke up blind on Feb 28 2013. If I thought life was hell before, I was sadly mistaken because this is literal hell. He has no one but me. He is so miserable and mean on a daily basis. I write this through the tears. I cry nearly every day. He was a big preacher of “appreciate what you have and be thankful”. Now he can’t live by the words he so freely preached to anyone he could get to listen. One thing for sure…I don’t have to hear those words anymore. I love this man and get so hurt by his anger that I lash back at him only to feel guilty and worse later. I know he really wants to die rather than live the rest of his life with this disability which is “non-arteritic ischemic optic neuropathy”. That basically in short is a stroke of the eye. It happens when the blood pressure drops so low while asleep, the blood pools up in the optic nerve causing it to burst and cause irreversible damage. I feel as though we “both” went blind that dreadful night. I am so miserable and don’t know what to do to help this man. I have adjusted my life as much as I am able and aware of such as not moving things etc. He feels as though everything he loved has been taken away from him. I would accept advice from anyone at this point because I feel that I am dying a slow death with him. I have no idea what to do or try;……

  • Maurie Hill

    Hi Connie,
    Thanks for reaching out. I have sent you a lengthy email.
    Best wishes,

  • veruca

    Its nice that you have never felt overwhelmed or guilty, but I know that the feeling of being overwhelmed may have to do with the fact that women with blind husbands tend to take care of the children as well as all the other visual tasks. My guilt has to do more with not being able to spend quality time with the kids. Going out into NYC or anywhere crowded tends to end up being a fiasco because not only are the kids holding my hands, but my husband tends to hold my shoulder in addition to his cane. I feel like I’m just a walking guide, not a participant

  • Jon

    Old, ok, but all new to me, Thank you for this. Really, star you are, best info on the net. Thanks again.

  • Maurie Hill

    Hi Jon,
    I’m enjoying all your comments on the various blog posts you are catching up on. Thanks for the positive feedback and best wishes in learning all the new creative ways that you will accomplish things when you lack that fine detail vision. Make sure you visit your state’s blind/low vision agency and/or voc rehab. They have trained professionals that can help you find solutions to obstacles that you may encounter. Or email me at and I may be able to direct you . . .

  • Jon

    Many thanks Maurie, i am just beginning to face up to this now, looking at all the blogs etc, yours is the best for REAL info so far, thanks again. I hoipe you are well and happy. Many thanks also for the offer of help via your email, i will not spam you or share. Again, star you are.

  • Maurie Hill

    Hi Jon,
    No problem. I’m doing well and very happy and you shall too!
    Best wishes,

  • BJ

    Hi, I don’t know where to begin, but I’m just so sad because my husband of 21 years is so angry and depressed because he is legally blind. I’ve tried to get him to go talk to someone, but he won’t, he says he doesn’t need to. So, I’m looking for someone to talk to because I feel like giving up! He first was diagnosed in 2000, which he was going threw the motions, I guess you would say, but then in 2010 he was let go due to changes in the company, and it just went down hill from there. We pretty much lost everything. I was a stay at home mom, and when this happened I wasn’t having much luck at finding a job to help support us, not only that I was going threw stuff as well and still am. I’m reaching out, hoping that someone knows of a group or individual that I can talk with? Thanks for the time.

  • Maurie Hill

    Hi BJ,
    I’m so sorry for what you are going through. I hope your husband reches out (for your sake!). I suggest he tackle his visual frustrations one at a time. There are so many solutions available that he may not be aware of (i.e. listening to newspapers and books from NLS Bard, either via an app on a portable device or purchasing a portable player). This is just the tip of the iceberg. He should contact your state’s blind agency for help and ideas. He needs to meet other people who are also legally blind. He might be able to do this through the state agency, private low vision and blind organizations, or going to a conference. For example, the Foundation Fighting Blindness has an amazing conference every year. There are sessions on topics that impact us every day. Check out If he can’t make it to Baltimore, they have smaller gatherings all over the country. Search for an Accessibility Technology Fair in your area. I hope this helps a little bit and hopefully others will see this and have more ideas.
    Best wishes,

  • zuess

    I have been with my husband for 30 years and h.e has been legally blind the whole time since birth but I don’t know how much more I can take he is so angry at the rest of us that can see to drive and work that we don’t have it as hard as he does. He says we that is our grown children and me should nth complain or shine about how hard a day is at work ect and I really don’t k ow what to do. When I have suggested any kind of help or counsel he gets even worse and won’t even consider it . I am at my wits end.

  • Maurie Hill

    Hi, I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this. Since you
    can’t get him to counseling, I’m wondering if reading some books written by
    people who are legally blind might help – their struggles and triumphs. Does he
    get audiobooks from the National Library Service? This article will get you in
    the right direction of downloading audiobooks for free:

    And the following article has a few book recommendations and I discuss gender
    differences when legally blind:

    Other things that would help are meeting other people that have low
    vision. No, not an intentional group therapy,
    but just chatting with someone in the same boat. You could try your state’s
    blind and low vision agency for resources or events. They would also show him
    tools to make life easier for him. I just came back from a great conference in
    Baltimore, which would have been perfect for him. It is the Foundation Fighting
    Blindness annual Visions conference. it will also be in Baltimore next June.
    570 attendees, most of which are legally blind congregate to learn not just
    about the latest eye research but they have sessions on all sorts of topics
    relating to living with low vision. They always have amazing speakers that talk
    about their struggles and successes. The best part is just meeting very
    interesting people that echo one’s low vision frustration but are open to
    solutions or ‘workarounds’ for each task. They even had a session on –

    Sighted Spouses: Techniques for Ensuring Vision Loss
    Doesn’t Impact Your Relationship
    with Dan Ashman, Tracy and Sharon Soforenko

    Books I recommend besides the one in the ‘gender differences’
    “Adventures in Darkness” by Tom Sullivan – and all his
    other books
    “Not Fade Away” by Rebecca Alexander
    “Tripping Into the Light” by Charlie Collins
    I hope this helps, and lastly, please take care of yourself

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