Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

How the Amsler Grid Can Help Your Diagnose Vision Loss

Posted on: August 6th, 2014 by lowvision

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 60. There are approximately 15 million people who experience the condition in the United States alone. The number of cases is only expected to rise with the silver tsunami of 10,000 baby boomers that turn 65 each day.

Early diagnosis of AMD can help individuals plan for their condition and help sustain a better quality of life.

Eye doctors use the Amsler grid to help diagnose cases of AMD. This tool detects central vision problems that might be caused by damage to the macula (the central part of the retina) or the optic nerve. When looking at the black dot in Amsler grid, any changes in central vision may cause the lines in the grid to disappear or appear wavy. This is a symptom of AMD.

The grid can be used at home to keep tabs on central vision and gauge changes to eyesight and vision health.

Below are a few tips for using the Amsler grid at home:

  • Wear any glasses you would normally wear during reading.
  • View the chart at arms distance and cover one eye.
  • With the uncovered eye, focus on the dark dot in the center of the grid.
  • While looking at this dot, you still should be aware of the lines of the grid. Note if any of the lines are distorted or broken or if there are blurred areas.
  • Repeat with your other eye.
  • If you notice any blurred, wavy or missing lines, contact your eye doctor as soon as possible.

Please note, that while useful, this self-test does not take the place of regular appointments with an eye doctor.

 

Low Vision in the Workplace

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by lowvision

Low vision shouldn’t hamper your professional life. There are tools available to help adjust workspaces to allow people with low vision maximum use of their eyesight.

Because low vision can range from moderate to severe among individuals and the different conditions can vary in how they impact vision—whether through a small central field or peripherally–each workspace should be tailored to the individual.

Below are a few resources and tips which can help people with low vision succeed in the workplace:

  • Computer technology: There are many technologies available to assist individuals with low vision on the job, including software, special keyboards, voice recognition programs, glare guards, and other technologies that can make for a more effective work environment.
  • Magnifiers: Electronic and traditional magnifiers are easily transportable from work to home. For reading assignments, these devices can come in handy when small text may be illegible without assistance.
  • Office layout: It’s important for coworkers to update individuals with low vision when there may be a change in the office layout or walkways, like when the location of furniture or offices has been shifted. Additionally, small adjustments can be made to make for a better working environment, including different lighting to help reduce glare.

Many of these tips and resources can enhance quality of life in and out of the office. To find out more about the tips, technology and tools for living with low vision, visit a local low vision specialist.

Low Vision News Recap – June 2014

Posted on: July 8th, 2014 by lowvision

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

Do Carrots Really Improve Your Vision?
Salon
The question remains: Are carrots truly able to improve eyesight or is that the stuff of fiction? The answer is yes, under certain conditions, eating carrots will help improve eyesight. When it comes to eating nutrient-rich foods to improve eyesight, more generally, it is suggested stocking up on green, leafy vegetables. Spinach, kale or collard greens—all chock-full of lutein and zeaxanthin (which are other food-derived nutrients)—could help protect your eyes by filtering high-energy wavelengths of visible light that can damage the retina. Such foods may also help to protect against age-related macular degeneration, the major cause of blindness in the elderly.

Giving Alexis Sight: Low Vision Readers
KSAT-TV
More than 13 million Americans over the age of 45 suffer with a low vision condition, including those who’ve lost vision due to diabetes, age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma. However, new technology is providing hope to the many who suffer from low vision. Illuminated low vision readers use LED lights and prism correction to help people with these low vision conditions to read small print.

Strong Bonds Forged at West Haven VA’s Eastern Blind Rehab Center
New Haven Register
At a VA clinic in Connecticut,  individuals are seek out treatment come from all walks of life: they may be retired attorneys and some may be dockworkers but share two important things in common, regardless of social, economic or racial background. They share blindness and a military career – two strong bonds that create a brotherhood among the men.

Glaucoma Can Affect Babies, Too
WebMD
Although rare, one in 10,000 infants is born with the vision-robbing disease glaucoma, a condition which is largely diagnosed in people older than 60. The bottom line for parents is that, if they think something is wrong with their baby’s eyes, and their pediatrician has any doubt about the cause, see a pediatric ophthalmologist.

 

 

Celebrate National Sunglasses Day by Protecting Your Vision

Posted on: July 1st, 2014 by lowvision

By Dora Adamopoulos, OD

After such a brutal winter, people are anxious to spend the summer months outdoors, whether it is a relaxing day at the pool or beach, grilling with friends, or exercising outside. While the sun’s damaging effect on skin is generally understood, many people don’t realize the same radiation also can affect eyes. Without UV protection, our eyes absorb powerful UVA and UVB rays which can burn and damage the retina.

National Sunglasses Day on June 27 is a chance to commit to wearing sunglasses every day to protect your vision and help you enjoy the beautiful summer weather.

Without protection a full day outside can cause immediate issues such as swollen or red eyes and temporary hypersensitivity to light, telltale signs of sunburn of the eyes. And years of cumulative exposure can cause cancer of the eye or eyelid and accelerate low vision conditions like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Wearing sunglasses regularly can protect your eyes and prevent serious damage to your vision. However, many still don’t make it a habit to put on shades regularly.  A recent report by The Vision Council highlights how many Americans underestimate eye damage caused by the sun’s UV rays.

What’s shocking is nearly 30 percent of respondent of the 2014 Sun Protection Survey never wear shades. And 46 percent of individuals only wear sunglasses when it’s sunny out, which exposes their eyes to strong UV rays on cloudy or partially cloudy days.

For those who wear sunglasses, UV protection isn’t a given. Of those respondents wearing sunglasses when interviewed, 35 percent did not know if their eyewear provided UV protection and one in 10 people said their shades did not have such protection.

On National Sunglasses Day, start a new habit of protecting your vision and wearing sunglasses every time you’re outside. Preparation today can help sustain healthy vision for the future.

June is Cataract Awareness Month

Posted on: June 19th, 2014 by lowvision

Imagine seeing life through a fogged-up window or mirror. Your loved ones or pets appear blurry. For people who have cataracts, this is a daily reality. Cataracts are one of the leading causes of vision loss in the United States. There are more than 24 million Americans ages 40+ who have the condition, according to Prevent Blindness America.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens which blocks or changes the passage of light into the eye.  Unlike many eye diseases, vision loss due to cataract can be restored. Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures and has a 95 percent success rate. Additionally, new research finds that patients who have restored vision because of cataract surgery had a significantly reduced rate of hip fractures from falls[i].

Symptoms of cataracts include blurry or double vision, a strong glare, or difficulty seeing at night. Adult cataracts develop gradually, and early diagnosis is important for maintaining good eye heath. Mild clouding of the lens often occurs after age 60 with few vision problems. However, by age 75, most people with cataracts have symptoms that do affect their vision.

Visual problems that may be associated with cataracts include:

  • Sensitivity to glare
  • Cloudy, fuzzy, foggy, or filmy vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night or in dim light
  • Double vision
  • Loss of color intensity
  • Problems seeing shapes against a background or the difference between shades of colors
  • Seeing halos around lights

The risk of cataracts increases as a person ages. Other risk factors include:

  • Certain diseases, such as diabetes
  • Personal behavior, such as smoking and alcohol use
  • The environment, such as prolonged exposure to sunlight

What can I do protect my vision?

Regularly wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight can help delay cataracts. Researchers also believe good nutrition can help reduce the risk of age-related cataracts. Recommended foods include green leafy vegetables, fruit, and other foods with antioxidants.

If you are ages 60 or older, you should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years. In addition to cataracts, your eye care professional can check for signs of age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other vision disorders. Early treatment for many eye diseases may save your sight.

Additionally, in some cases, cataract surgery is not an option or must be delayed because of other health circumstances. To improve your sight, low vision devices may help to enhance contrast, control glare, and magnify objects using various tools to improve your quality of life.

 



[i] http://www.preventblindness.org/cataract-awareness-month

Low Vision News Recap – May 2014

Posted on: June 3rd, 2014 by lowvision

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

What Happens During Cataract Surgery?
Fox News
Cataracts are a very common low vision condition , affecting roughly 60 percent of people over the age of 60. As symptoms of the condition become severe, healthcare professionals may recommend replacing the affected lens with an artificial one during cataract surgery.

Why Shades are So Important to Your Health (Plus, a Few Stylin’ Sunnies We Love!)
SELF
Do you wear sunglasses only sometimes? You could be putting yourself at major risk for sunburn of the eye, damage to the retina, cataracts, macular degeneration and squamous cell carcinoma, all of which can have a negative effect on your ability to see clearly. A new report from The Vision Council shows that nearly 30 percent of Americans never wear sunglasses and 46 percent don’t wear them regularly, putting vision health at risk.

Senior Drivers Dread Conversation About Handing Over Keys
Detroit Free Press
Driving is very important in maintaining independence and sense of self for many aging adults. However, low vision conditions such as cataracts cause nighttime glare to inhibit the ability to drive safely. It is important for children of aging adults to understand this and work with their parents to make the appropriate adjustments while also helping them to stay independent and lead active lives.

Screenings Key to Preventing Vision Loss with Glaucoma
NY1
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness, but with no warning signs many people with the disease may not be receiving treatment. Glaucoma affects about two to three percent of the population over 40 and about 15 percent of people over 80. Similar to high blood pressure, the condition is a silent offender. Most people have no idea there is a problem until they start losing vision. Getting screened is important as it is the only way to detect and treat the disease in its early stages?

 

 

Low Vision Disease Spotlight: Retinitis Pigmentosa

Posted on: May 27th, 2014 by lowvision

This week we are spotlighting retinitis pigmentosa (RP), which is an inherited, progressive deterioration of the retina. Unlike many low vision diseases, RP is rare with only 100,000 Americans currently suffering from the condition.

Although the name suggests that RP is a single disease, it is actually classified as a group of diseases that gradually damage the light-sensing cells in the back of the eye. These cells – or “rods” – are responsible for seeing in dimly-lit environments and play a critical role in night vision. For individuals with RP, nighttime activities like driving can be extremely difficult.

RP is characterized by the gradual loss of central vision. Often times, individuals with RP will also experience deterioration of peripheral vision and in some cases, blindness.

While RP can occur at any stage in life, it is most commonly seen in young adulthood.

Signs and Symptoms of RP:

  • Poor night vision – which can be evident even in early childhood
  • Deterioration of color vision or inability to distinguish colors

Unfortunately, there is no cure for RP, however, several devices and treatment options are currently being researched and tested. Advancements in technology, like the retinal prosthesis system, allow eyeglasses with tiny video cameras to transmit electronic signals into healthy retina cells. Through this system, visual information is sent from the optic nerve to the brain and interpreted as objects or outlines.

Individuals with RP can also use low vision devices like handheld magnifiers and small reading lamps to complete various daily living tasks. Occupational therapy may also be beneficial for those learning how to adjust to life with a low vision disease.

If you’ve experienced any of the signs and symptoms noted above, or have a family history of RP, ask your eye doctor for a visual field test. Tests can help determine the presence of any disease and the extent of damage, including loss of night or color vision.

 

Protecting Eyes from the Sun’s Ultraviolet Rays

Posted on: May 15th, 2014 by lowvision

Invisible – but strong and dangerous – the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays pose a serious threat to our eyes and vision health.

Unprotected exposure to the sun’s UV rays can result in immediate, short-term vision consequences like dry eyes, irritation and hypersensitivity to light. More importantly, years of outdoor exposure can destroy cells in the retina and accelerate low vision diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that up to 20 percent of all cataract cases are attributable to UV radiation.

While cataracts and AMD can take years to develop, the risk of disease increases every time we’re exposed to the sun. That’s why sunglasses and other UV-protective eyewear are so important. For individuals with low vision, special precautions and eyewear can make all of the difference.

  • Ask your eye doctor about low vision sunglasses or prescription filters that can both protect your eyes and also optimize your vision. This is particularly beneficial for adults with AMD.
  • If you are older, remember to steer clear of dark-tinted sunglasses as these can minimize contrast and contribute to falls.
  • Consider different lens tints or color options that can enhance your vision during specific activities. For instance, yellow, orange and brown lenses can improve contrast, making it easier to see curbs and steps.
  • Try on polarized lenses to see how glare and reflected sunlight is reduced; polarized sunglasses are often recommended for activities like driving.
  • Don’t be fooled by clouds: the sun’s rays can pass through haze and thin clouds.

By embracing these simple tips, you can enjoy the summer sun safely while protecting your vision. For more on UV radiation and eyes, check out The Vision Council online at www.thevisioncouncil.org. And look for our new report on sunglasses and UV protection, which will be available via the website on Tuesday, May 20.

Is Low Vision Rehabilitation Right for You?

Posted on: May 7th, 2014 by lowvision

The progression or diagnosis of a low vision disease can be extremely difficult. It brings with it questions, fears and a sense of uncertainty about the future of your vision. During these times it’s especially important to stay positive, be proactive, and set goals. Low vision does not mean a low quality of life; aids, tools, support groups and rehabilitation services all provide options and opportunities for those faced with vision deterioration or loss.

Low vision rehabilitation services, for instance, maximize the use of existing vision in order to sustain levels of independence. And while they can’t restore sight, they can help individuals cope with relevant physical and emotional difficulties like:

  • Performance of activities of daily living
  • Mobility
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Mood/depression
  • Quality of life
  • Accidents/falls and the resulting injury

Through low vision rehabilitation programs, ophthalmologists, optometrists and low vision therapists teach individuals to adjust to such challenges – and prepare for any additional decreases in vision. For instance, spectacle-mounted reading lenses to improve reading performance; or, at-home orientation trainings to help navigate the kitchen or stairs.

Rehabilitation programs vary from practice to practice but services generally fall into five categories. The chart below provides a brief overview and the types of services provided within each category.

 Rehabilitation Program  Services Provided
Training in the use of low-vision devices  Once a low vision device has been prescribed by an eye doctor, training will teach patients how to use the device and how to integrate it into daily routines.
Rehabilitation teaching  Adaptive techniques, such as computer programs with eccentric retinal loci, to improve reading performance and other activities of daily living.
Rehabilitation counseling/intervention  Interventions allow individuals to learn and problem solve with their peers and health professionals. These sessions improve cognitive and behavioral functions, and ultimate arm individuals with self-management skills.
Orientation and mobility training  Orientation and mobility training includes work with orientation, navigation, walking through environments, using cross streets and public transportation, distance judgment, and self-protection skills.
Independent living support  Independent living support programs provide training for everyday life skills like meal preparation, moving around the home, identifying money and medications, and telling time.

 

Low vision rehabilitation programs are expanding and extensive trainings are now offered across many different healthcare disciplines. And while everyone has a unique experience, programs have supported many individuals learning to adjust to life with low vision. Many Medicare carriers now cover at least some rehabilitation services.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, approximately 1.3 million Americans could benefit from low vision rehabilitation services. If you’re thinking about a low vision rehabilitation program, ask your eye doctor for more information and for local recommendations.

 

Low Vision News Recap – April 2014

Posted on: May 2nd, 2014 by lowvision

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

Too young for cataracts — or was I?
The Washington Post
Eun Kyung Kim, a former reporter for the Associated Press, details her experience with cataracts at a young age. She found that older patients dealing with cataracts often delay surgery, while younger ones don’t. According to Kim, younger patients’ active lifestyles make them less tolerant of any visual problem and more willing to deal with it quickly. What do you think?

Glaucoma Drug May Help Reverse Obesity-Related Vision Loss
U.S. News & World Report
A drug used to treat glaucoma has also been found to help people with vision loss linked to obesity, a new study reveals. Researchers examined the effectiveness of the drug Diamox in women and men with the condition known as “idiopathic intracranial hypertension.” According to the researchers, adding Diamox to participants’ weight-loss plan actually boosted vision improvement, almost by twice as much.

Blind ASU student pioneers visual-assistance app
Arizona Central
A new smartphone video app for the blind is currently under development – created by a former BMX bike rider who lost his vision in a crash. The service, called “Qwik Eyes” will function similarly to Skype and FaceTime and will utilize knowledgeable experts to provide blind individuals with direction for a variety of daily challenges and activities. The process will rely on video feeds to allow navigators offer advice or help. Though the service is years away from completion, it could be a very beneficial app for blind or disabled adults.

Researchers make major breakthrough in treatment for age-related blindness
Fox News
Scientists at Trinity College, Dublin say they have made a major breakthrough in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. Research revealed that interleukin-18, a component of the immune system, can protect patients from vision loss, and it can be administered in a non-invasive way.

Thought of the month: As the weather changes, how do low vision devices help you celebrate the warmer months?

The Washington Post