Resources for vision loss include adaptive services for reading, installing track lighting in areas that might need more light, services that perform home assessments and transportation plans if driving is affected. Employers may be able to help with lighting, reading assistance, screen shields or lens filters for more sensitive eyes. In addition, occupational therapists may be able to assist with visual perception issues.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR
> What is my risk of the melanoma spreading? > How will you determine if the cancer has spread? > Are there any symptoms I should be aware of that could signal that the cancer has spread? > Are there changes to my diet or lifestyle that will make a difference in my cancer battle? > What is adjuvant therapy? > Should I consider adjuvant therapy or explore clinical trials? > Do I need scans on a regular basis? If so, what type of scans do you recommend? > What should my follow-up plan be? > Will I be able to continue my normal, daily life? > Should I seek a second opinion?
LIVING WITH OM
Living With Monocular Vision
Follow-up care is different for every person. Factors to consider can be anything from the results of the tumor biopsy to the location of the tumor and even the medical provider. Follow-up care will consist of ongoing monitoring and surveillance, including: • Scans (MRI/CT/PET scan/x-ray/ultrasound) — Scans are a way to monitor the spread of the disease. Scans are likely to be scheduled on a recurring basis, usually every three to six months, but will depend on your doctor’s recommendations.
Losing vision in one of your eyes takes some adjustment, both physically and emotionally. It takes time, so be gentle on yourself during this adjustment period.
Depth perception might be affected in some of the following ways: • judging distances while walking and using the stairs • catching objects in the air • judging the heights of steps and the widths of entrances • pouring liquids into containers • judging how close people are as they move in and out of your field of vision
• Routine visits with your ophthalmologist and medical oncologist.
Coping With Vision Issues
Double vision may also become a challenge and is a known side effect of radiation therapy. Your brain will eventually start to assist you in compensating for the change in vision. Most day-to-day tasks and activities should fall back into place after an adjustment period. Be sure to work with your optometrist if you use corrective lenses to ensure your remaining eye is receiving the assistance it needs. Driving is still an option but be patient as you adjust to your new condition. Take the time to use your mirrors, become comfortable with the size of your vehicle and the blind spots that may occur while driving. Stopping, turning and changing lanes could be more challenging than they were before.
Depending on the treatment received, vision loss or monocular vision may become your new normal. Adjusting to monocular vision or vision loss will take time, so try not to get discouraged. Support services from social workers, therapists and loved ones may be helpful when adjusting to the loss of vision. It is normal to experience a period of grief due to these new changes and challenges. Always remember that there are people trained to assist you during this time.
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