Jean: Navigating Sight and Hearing Loss

We first met Jean last autumn when she contacted us to explore aids which could help her complete day-to-day tasks. Over the winter she joined our coffee and board game mornings (where she didn’t lose a single game of Scrabble), and she has since come to Bradbury Lodge to receive demonstrations of our assistive technology.

Jean (87 years old) is from Wales but moved to Oxfordshire about 18 months ago to live with her daughter. Jean was first diagnosed with her visual impairments 17 years ago. She has Fuchs’ Dystrophy, Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration, Charles Bonet Syndrome, and Cataracts. “When I received these diagnoses, I thought ‘oh, I’m going to be blind tomorrow’,” she said, but it has been a long and gradual process. Her visual impairments were largely kept at bay by the injections she was receiving for the macular degeneration, but about 2 years ago, her doctors could no longer see the back of her eye due to the cataracts, and therefore the injections had to be stopped.

Around this time, Jean’s eyesight began to rapidly worsen. She became uncomfortable going out by herself. Shopping became very difficult; it was hard for her to find the items she was looking for, or to see the prices. She then had a fire in her home and broke her shoulder in quick succession. Soon afterwards, Jean moved in with her daughter in South Oxfordshire. “I haven’t been out on my own for well over 18 months now. I’m afraid now to go out on my own, especially around here because I don’t know the area,” said Jean.

A photo of Jean from behind, using a CCTV magnifier to play Scrabble. The board can be seen on the monitor.

“Every day I get up and feel like it’s a little bit worse, but perhaps not. It’s just hard to come to terms with it. The pity is it could be partially remedied by having an operation on the cataracts,” she said. In fact, Jean had an operation scheduled, but it was cancelled because removing the cataracts would disturb the cornea; her eyesight could be completely lost, and she could end up with permanent pain. The only alternative is a corneal transplant, but she feels that at her age she can’t commit to such a procedure.

Jean first found out about MyVision when her daughter researched sight loss organisations in the area to support her when she moved to Oxfordshire.

We provided Jean with a talking weighing scale as well as a talking watch. Then at one of our coffee and board games mornings we set up a CCTV magnifier so that attendees could play Scrabble. Jean said that it was her first time playing in years (yet she was far from out of practice; she beat us by a wide margin). She has since come to Bradbury Lodge on multiple occasions to find out about our assistive technology and to embarrass us with her exceptional Scrabble skills.

Jean is an avid reader. She has a Kindle as well as a computer with a large monitor, which she uses to keep up to date on the news and current events. Jean also loves playing word games, namely Scrabble, and gets real enjoyment from playing the keyboard.

“My sight loss has impacted me enormously, but I have to get on with it, and I’m lucky to have my daughter looking after me now.”

Around four years ago, Jean’s hearing also started to worsen, and she started wearing hearing aids. “It has been particularly bad because I can’t see how to change the batteries, and since I can’t see things on it properly it’s harder to get to grips on it and to get it to work right.”

“I’m still fiddling with it. Mostly I manage, but I have to ask my daughter to help me with it a lot. I would rather I didn’t need to have it.”

Due to her reduced hearing, Jean doesn’t like using audio descriptions or screen readers. She relies almost entirely on increased magnification, and if the text on her computer doesn’t get large enough, she often holds up a portable magnifier up to the screen.

Jean said that the “people at MyVision couldn’t be more friendly and more sociable. They have become our friends in the short time I’ve been here. They have been a great help to me whenever I needed anything.”

“I have been able to find out what is available and to acquire knowledge about it. Everyone we’ve encountered couldn’t have been more helpful.”

To make the most of the spring and summer weather, our regular winter board game and coffee morning has been replaced by a walking group. To find out more contact us at or 01865 725595

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MyVision Oxfordshire is registered as a charity in England and Wales No.1140556 and as a company limited by guarantee in England and Wales No. 07465300.