Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Counseling Psychology


Professional Psychology and Family Therapy


Laura K. Palmer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cheryl Thompson Sard, Ph.D

Committee Member

Daniel Cruz, Ph.D

Committee Member

John E. Smith, Ed.D

Committee Member

Nancy J. Newman, M.D


LHON, Blindness Disability, Well-Being, Social Support, Spirituality


The current research was undertaken to explore the psychological well-being of mothers and siblings of an individual with vision loss symptoms due to Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy and whether perceived social support and spiritual involvement and beliefs served as protective factors as these family members coped with their child or sibling acquiring a disability. One hundred seventeen participants, 65 mothers and 52 siblings completed a Demographic Questionnaire, the Outcome Questionnaire-45, the Impact of Event Scale, the Spiritual Involvement and Beliefs Scale, and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support via an online internet survey. The data revealed that both mothers and siblings experienced higher levels of psychological stress than a normative sample and siblings experienced significantly higher levels of interpersonal problems and social role dysfunction than a normative sample. The results also showed that mothers of children with vision loss due to LHON showed significantly lower levels of psychological stress as levels of perceived social support from family and a significant other increased and siblings of a person with vision loss due to LHON showed significantly lower levels of psychological stress, interpersonal problems, and social role dysfunction with higher levels of perceived social support from family. Implications and suggestions for future research are presented.

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