Fun in the Sun: Vision Loss Doesn’t Mean Giving Up on Your Favorite Summer Activities

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When you experience vision loss, it’s a tempting to shrink your world, often eliminating outdoor activities you’ve enjoyed, such as hiking, biking, swimming, trips to the beach, amusement parks, etc. With a little help from family or friends, a positive attitude and a good sense of humor, most summer activities can continue to be, to quote the Beach Boys, “Fun! Fun! Fun!”

Hiking is a great way to stay in shape and is always best done with a companion, whether you’re sighted or not. PA’S State Parks have some excellent trails to use. You might want to consider swapping your mobility cane for a stability cane, or a good walking stick to keep you steady through some of the rougher sections.  You may find yourself really enjoying the sounds and smells of the great outdoors with fewer visual distractions. Biking is probably best from the back seat of a tandem bicycle, although I know some vision impaired folks who still do some biking in more controlled environments, such as a “rails to trails” setting.

For those with vision loss, swimming can be challenging in a public pool, when you have to try to avoid people coming at you from all directions. It’s best to try to find a time when there’s not a big crowd.

Amusement parks can be fun, whether you can see or not. There’s a lot of walking involved, so going from ride to ride can be much easier with a sighted guide. I used a courtesy wheelchair the last couple times my family went to amusement parks, which made it much easier on my knees and my wife’s nerves. The beach can be a great place to sit back, close your eyes and enjoy the ocean breeze, the smell of salt in the air, the call of the birds and the beautiful sound of children having fun.  If you are in reasonably good health, there’s no reason you can’t have a great time splashing in the surf or jumping waves. Bringing a friend to help reorient you when a wave takes you down is essential. There’s no reason to avoid having your share of fun in the sun because of vision loss.  Lather up with a good quality sunscreen, get your sunglasses on and have a great summer!