Author Archive

Low Vision and the Hispanic Community

Posted on: April 23rd, 2015 by lowvision

Aging increases risk of developing low vision disorders. However, other factors like ethnicity can also impact potential of certain eye diseases.

A recent poll by Research!America found that more than a third of Hispanic American respondents, 38 percent, feared vision loss and said it would have the greatest impact on their life. The poll also found that six in 10 Hispanic respondents (63 percent) were concerned that loss of vision would impact their independence, and 60 percent were concerned about the impact it would have on their quality of life.

We have created a printable document with more information about low vision in the Hispanic community. You can access the document here: Low Vision in the Hispanic Community

Low Vision and African Americans

Posted on: April 23rd, 2015 by lowvision

Aging increases risk of developing low vision disorders. However, other factors like ethnicity can also impact potential of certain eye diseases.

A recent poll by Research!America found that a majority of African American respondents, 57 percent, feared vision loss and said it would have a great impact on their lives – more so than fears of losing speech, memory, and hearing. Additionally, 66 percent of African Americans feared that loss of vision would impact their independence, while 59 percent feared it would have on their quality of life.

While vision loss and low vision disorders affect all Americans, African Americans are disproportionately affected. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 200,000 African Americans suffer with low vision, and that number is expected to increase to 366,000 by 2030.

We have created a printable document with more information about the prevalence of low vision and aging eye disease in the African American community. You can access it here:  Low Vision in the African American Community

What is the White House Conference on Aging?

Posted on: April 21st, 2015 by lowvision

The White House has held a Conference on Aging each decade since the 1960s to identify and advance actions to improve the quality of life of older Americans. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging is an opportunity to look ahead to the issues that will help shape the landscape for older Americans for the next decade.

Many organizations are working hard to have low vision and aging eye disease on the agenda at the Conference. You can learn more about the White House Conference on Aging and sign up for email alerts here: http://www.whitehouseconferenceonaging.gov

Some of the common issues that are expected to be discussed include:

  • Retirement security is a vitally important issue. Financial security in retirement provides essential peace of mind for older Americans, but requires attention during our working lives to ensure that we are well prepared for retirement.
  • Healthy aging will be all the more important as baby boomers age. As medical advances progress, the opportunities for older Americans to maintain their health and vitality should progress as well and community supports, including housing, are important tools to promote this vitality.
  • Long-term services and supports remain a priority. Older Americans overwhelmingly prefer to remain independent in the community as they age. They need supports to do so, including a caregiving network and well-supported workforce.
  • Elder justice is important given that seniors, particularly the oldest older Americans, can be vulnerable to financial exploitation, abuse, and neglect. The Elder Justice Act was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, and we need to realize its vision of protecting seniors from scam artists and others seeking to take advantage of them.

Low Vision Report released

Posted on: March 26th, 2015 by lowvision

The Vision Council released the low vision report Vision Loss in America: Aging and Low Vision to bring attention low vision patients and caregivers alike  about low vision and aging eye disease. Among other facts and figures, the report highlights research showing that only approximately 20 percent of adults with severe vision impairment use devices that could help maintain activities of daily living. Click here to access our low vision report Vision Loss in America: Aging and Low Vision.

This report was released in this month, as March is Save Your Vision Month, and has already been well received throughout the consumer press, including a nice piece about low vision from US News & World Report. This piece, entitled “Keep an Eye on Your Eyes” discusses four major eye issues (cataracts, glaucoma, AMD and diabetic retinopathy) and how to treat – and prevent – them.

Here are some eye saving tips from the article:

  • Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses and eye protection as much as possible; adding a hat is even better.
  • Be aware of any family history of eye problems – especially mom or dad – and if there is a family history, get screened regularly.
  • Have your eyes examined yearly
  • Live as healthfully as you can; take care of your eyes by taking care of your overall health.

 

 

February is Low Vision Awareness Month

Posted on: February 24th, 2015 by lowvision

To celebrate Low Vision Awareness Month — the National Eye Institute created this infographic about low vision.

Low Vision Awareness Month Infographic

National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP)

 

Help for people with low vision

Posted on: February 11th, 2015 by lowvision

Currently, 4.2 million Americans ages 40 and older are visually impaired. Of these, 3 million have low vision. By 2030, when the last baby boomers turn 65, the number of Americans who have visual impairments is projected to reach 7.2 million, with 5 million having low vision.

For the millions of people who currently live or will live with low vision, the good news is there is help. Vision rehabilitation can make a big difference to a person adjusting to vision loss and should be considered a key part of a patient’s overall care.

But first, what is low vision? Low vision is when even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery, people have difficulty seeing, which makes everyday tasks difficult to do. Activities that used to be simple like reading the mail, shopping, cooking, and writing can become challenging.

Most people with low vision are age 65 or older. The leading causes of vision loss in older adults are age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataract, and glaucoma. Among younger people, vision loss is most often caused by inherited eye conditions, infectious and autoimmune eye diseases, or trauma.

For people with low vision, maximizing their remaining sight is key to helping them continue to live safe, productive, and rewarding lives. The first step is to seek help.

“I encourage anyone with low vision to seek guidance about vision rehabilitation from a low vision specialist,” advises Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute (NEI), one of the

National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the federal government’s principal agency for vision research.

What is a low vision specialist?

A low vision specialist is an ophthalmologist or optometrist who works with people who have low vision. A low vision specialist can develop a vision rehabilitation plan that identifies strategies and assistive devices appropriate for the person’s particular needs.

“A vision rehabilitation plan helps people reach their true visual potential when nothing more can be done from a medical or surgical standpoint,” explains Mark Wilkinson, O.D., a low vision specialist at the University of

Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and chair of the low vision subcommittee for the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP).

Vision rehabilitation can include the following:

  • Training to use magnifying and adaptive devices
  • Teaching new daily living skills to remain safe and live independently
  • Developing strategies to navigate around the home and in public
  • Providing resources and support

There are also many resources available to help people with low vision. NEI offers a 20-page, large-print booklet, titled What You Should Know About Low Vision, and companion DVD, featuring inspiring stories of people living with low vision. This booklet and DVD, among other resources, are available at www.nei.nih.gov/lowvision.

With the aging of the population, eye diseases and vision loss have become major public health concerns in the United States. NEI is committed to finding new ways to improve the lives of people living with visual impairment. Aside from making information and resources readily available, NEI has dedicated more than $24 million to research projects on low vision, including learning how the brain adapts to vision loss; strategies to improve vision rehabilitation; and the development of new technologies that help people with low vision to read, shop, and find their way in unfamiliar places. Research like this will help people with low vision to make the most of their remaining vision and maintain their independence and quality of life.

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

Posted on: January 20th, 2015 by lowvision

As the second-leading cause of blindness in the world, glaucoma is a serious health condition that often goes undetected. An estimated 2.2 million Americans have the eye disease, but half of them don’t know it. In observance of Glaucoma Awareness Month, we encourage you to learn more about the disease, including warning signs. Most importantly, take this opportunity to schedule an eye exam and speak with the doctor about your personal risk factors.

So what is glaucoma? Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, which transmits images to the brain. In most cases, increased pressure causes the damage, which can lead to permanent loss of vision if not treated. With open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease, there are usually no symptoms prior to vision loss—and since the loss is slow and begins with peripheral or side vision, it can go unnoticed.

Anyone can develop glaucoma, and at any age, but certain factors increase one’s risk. African Americans, for example, experience greater incidence, as do adults over 60. Family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics and people who are severely nearsighted also may develop glaucoma more easily.

There is no cure for glaucoma, but further vision loss can be prevented with proper treatment. The key is early detection and treatment. High-risk patients should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam every year or two after age 35. Older adults should also get tested this frequently as well. Treatment for glaucoma varies depending on the type and its stage. Medications, surgery, laser treatments and/or eye drops can halt progression of the disease and help manage symptoms.

Loss of contrast sensitivity, problems with glare and sensitivity to light are three possible effects of glaucoma that may interfere with daily activities. The Vision Council offers these tips to help relieve the symptoms of glaucoma:

• Follow your doctor’s orders. It is very important that glaucoma patients stick to a medication routine and schedule regular checkups with an eye doctor. Medications should be taken at the time of regular daily activities such as brushing one’s teeth or eating lunch so that the habit becomes routine.

• Consider tinted lenses to help with glare and contrast. Yellow, amber and brown tinted lenses reduce the glare from fluorescent lights and can help make activities such as driving easier. On a bright day, try using sunglasses with a brown lens; on overcast days or at night, switch to yellow and amber tints.

• Use devices that are geared toward people with low vision. Many electronic devices have options such as large display screens that make seeing and reading easier. Another option is to manually increase the font size. Watches, too, come with bigger faces and buttons that are easier to read and use. There are also a wide variety of low vision devices available through your low vision specialist to improve visual acuity while completing near, intermediate, and distance tasks.

• Practice eye safety. Try to keep your eyes clean and free of irritants. Women should be careful about eye cosmetics, use nonallergenic brands and replace them often. It’s also important to wear protective glasses when working in the yard or playing contact sports.

For more information about glaucoma, visit www.glaucoma.org/glaucoma/glaucoma-facts-and-stats.php

If you or someone you know has glaucoma, what other aids, devices and support do you recommend?

Low Vision News Recap – November 2014

Posted on: December 5th, 2014 by lowvision

Below is a compilation of news you can use relating to low vision and eye health in the month of November.

Diagnosing glaucoma by watching your iPad? It could be here sooner than you think.
Washington Post
Imagine being able to determine whether you have a degenerative eye disease such as glaucoma by simply watching a movie or TV show on your iPad. If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. For now. But a new study from researchers in the United Kingdom suggests that, thanks to advances in eye-tracking software, identifying one of world’s leading causes of blindness could someday be as simple as watching a sitcom in your home.

Macular degeneration may respond to new laser therapy
Medical News Today
A new type of laser treatment has the potential to slow progression of age-related macular degeneration – a major cause of vision loss – without damaging the retina.

Tiny implant helps patients see again
KVUE
Zoom in close enough and you can see it ─ a tiny telescope in Leslie Vlonitis’ right eye. Leslie has macular degeneration, which blocks her central vision. She was nearly blind, but now can read a magazine and watch baseball on TV. The telescope is for patients with end-stage, dry macular degeneration. It uses micro-optical technology to magnify images and improve “straight ahead” vision.

Stanford doctors look to stave off vision loss
San Francisco Chronicle
About 10 percent of patients diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration will develop the form of the disease that causes permanent blindness. It’s unclear just how much genetics plays a role, so there’s no definitive way to predict who will progress to that stage or when that would happen. However, it may be not too far away in the future. Researchers at Stanford created an algorithm that predicted whether a particular patient would be likely to develop the form of the disease that causes blindness within less than a year, three years or up to five years. The sooner a doctor can notice changes, the better chance there is to save a patient’s vision.

Patients Missing Out On Low Vision Services
Medscape
Many baby boomers who could benefit from low vision therapy aren’t getting it for a variety reasons, including a lack of a standard definition of low vision and lack of referral to low vision specialists, a new survey shows.

 

Aging Gracefully and Living Independently

Posted on: November 21st, 2014 by lowvision

Living out your golden years can be blissful and fulfilling, yet many aging adults also face the issue of declining mobility as their bodies and vision weren’t what they once were.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24,000 people over the age of 65 died after a fall in 2012, making it a serious public health issue. With 10,000 boomers turning 65 each day, the issue of mobility in aging adults will continue to be a priority as our country ages.

When thinking about balance, it is a combination of vision, muscle, perception of space, and concentration. Unfortunately, this involves vision, muscle strength, proprioception (the body’s ability to know where it is in space), and attention. As people age, those elements deteriorate.

However, tech developers, builders, and other professionals are realizing the potential to help this population live independently by utilizing technology and installing furnishings which help those with limited vision or mobility to prevent falls.

Apps for Independence 
In a recent TIME feature on “Senior for Startups,”  the piece highlighted a new app called Lively, which helps loved ones respect an aging family member’s independence while being able to monitor on their wellbeing from afar through sensors on pillboxes and the refrigerator.

Cleaners

Many retirement homes are turning to their cleaning staff to ensure that rooms are not only clean, but are trained to inspect for tripping hazards that can be present when a person has low vision, such as a crumpled rug or a piece of furniture that is in the walking path of an individual.

Refurbishing a Residence
Some builders are putting themselves into the shoes of the people whose homes they’re constructing. When building for aging adults, it’s important to consider things like hues of trim and what type of floor to install. Older adults can perceive these environmental factors differently and foster conditions ripe for falls.

For instance, black toilet seats may not be aesthetically appealing but the contrast for someone with low vision can help prevent a fall.

Exercise
While many may be worried how exercise could lead to a fall, it actually is one of the best remedies to keep bodies strong in your 60s and beyond. Keeping strong and maintaining muscle mass is important to preserve balance and reduce falls.

Low Vision News Recap – October 2014

Posted on: November 6th, 2014 by lowvision

Below is a compilation of news you can use relating to low vision and eye health in the month of October.

Disease Severity in One Eye May Predict Progression in the Other
US News and World Report
A new study finds the severity of age-related macular degeneration in one eye is associated with the risk of developing the disease and its progression in the other eye.

No ‘pity party’ for volunteer on a mission to help others with reduced vision
Orange County Register
Wayne Heidle doesn’t let retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision loss akin to looking through a pinhole and often leads to total blindness, get in the way of his efforts to improve the lives of others as a volunteer at the Low Vision Center at Fullerton’s Marshall B. Ketchum University.

‘Wandering eye’ may raise risk of falls for older adults
Fox News
Older people with strabismus, where one eye points slightly inward or outward affecting vision, are about 27 percent more likely than people without the condition to be injured by a fall, according to a new study.

Bono: ‘I have glaucoma’
CNN
There’s a reason for Bono’s ever-present orange-tinted sunglasses, and it’s not rock-star affectation. The singer announced he has suffered with glaucoma for the past two decades and wears shades to protect his eyes.

Technology allows Missoula man with visual impairment to enter workforce
The Missoulian
It’s extremely difficult for people with severe visual impairments to find good jobs, especially customer service-oriented jobs in fast-paced restaurants. But with modern technology, the hard work of state agencies and local nonprofits and a willingness on the part of employers, people like Robert Wilkins can thrive. They gain self-confidence and become more financially independent.