James Bennett experienced all of the emotions of grief after a cardiac event robbed him of his sight overnight.
"It's like somebody close to you dying," the 72-year-old told AAP.
"You say 'why me, why me' to begin with, and you go through all of those stages."
With the help of a social worker and a counsellor, Mr Bennett realised his blindness was not a barrier to living a productive life, as many others who had experienced sight loss had done before him.
He re-learnt a series of life skills including how to use a computer and found a fresh job to his liking in human services.
"I said 'Well, if other people can do it, I can do it.'"
Mr Bennett said after two years, he felt like he had remastered all of the functional elements of his life.
But he does wish some Australians better understood the challenges experienced by people with vision loss.
He often finds people aren't understanding about his need to bring his guide dog into business premises or taxis.
Other people try to be helpful but neglect to ask him whether their help his needed, such as one woman who tried to steer him into boarding the wrong train when he was in line to catch the right one.
According to a survey of 169 clients of Guide Dogs NSW and ACT, Mr Bennett isn't alone in feeling that way.
Overwhelmingly respondents (92 per cent) felt society could do more to recognise the daily challenges faced by those with sight loss.
Discussing sight loss also remains a taboo, according to 43 per cent of the group.
And 12 per cent of respondents said they felt lonely every day.
Guide Dogs NSW and ACT chief executive Dale Cleaver said he hopes his organisation was alleviating some of these concerns by helping people to be independent and connected to the community.
Mr Bennett says the organisation has helped him significantly and he's now a board member.
According to the Centre for Eye Health, more than half a million Australians will be living with sight loss from next year.