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Date of Award

4-16-2004

Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Clinical Psychology (MSCP)

Committee Chair

Michel Hersen

Abstract

This thesis is a literature review on adjustment to vision loss and blindness. A 1997 U. S. Census bureau study notes that nearly 20% of the population considers itself to have some type of disability. With the increasing geriatric population, disability and health conditions related to aging are on the rise; rates of acquired vision loss are also increasing. This thesis examines general theories on grief and loss and how they relate to the many losses , involved with an acquired disability. Specifically with vision loss, an adjustment process, including experience of a grief reaction, seems to be normal and expected. For most individuals, grief related to vision loss seems to include denial, depression, anger, and some level of acceptance. As with most experiences of grief, the above does not necessarily transpire, nor should it be expected to conform to a set order or time frame. This literature review also compared research on individuals who adjusted to their new vision loss and 11 those who were experiencing ongoing difficulties. Those who are struggling with adjustment to vision loss seem to experience more chronic and intense depression, report continued increased rates of impairment in daily functioning, and a decrease in activity level. Individuals who adjust better to vision loss generally have attended a rehabilitation program. Caucasian persons of higher SES and education seem more likely to have the resources available to cope better with their new impairment. Having higher self-esteem, social support in general and specifically family support, or membership in a support or psychotherapy group for the visually impaired are associated with better adjustment.

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