Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

How smartphones and apps are liberating the blind and visually impaired

Posted on: August 18th, 2015 by lowvision

Have you found any great apps or computer programs to help assist you or a loved one with your day to day activities?

The San Jose Mercury News published a great article listing some of the available resources for living–and computing–with low vision.

Ruben Morales, a blind 59-year-old retired engineer who lives in Morgan Hill, has used a specialized screen-reading program for years to write and run spreadsheets on his desktop computer.

But just this month, he figuratively cut the cord to his desktop and joined the mobile revolution. Morales was visiting the Veterans Affairs Department’s Western Blind Rehabilitation Center in Menlo Park learning how to use an iPhone’s features for vision-impaired people.

“It’s pretty amazing.” Morales said, demonstrating how he can call up a song and play it with a few taps. “Whatever I can do on the computer I can basically do it on the iPhone. It has the same capability.”

Click here for the full article

Selecting the Best Pair of Sunglasses for You

Posted on: May 27th, 2015 by lowvision

Why do we wear sunglasses? Perhaps when we were younger, we thought they looked cool. And they did. They still do. But more and more, we are looking at sunwear as not only a fashion accessory, but also as a health necessity. The sun that does damage to our skin, causing sun burn, age spots, wrinkles and even cancer, also can wreak havoc on our eyes. Again eye diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration have a direct connection with UV-damage to the eyes. Similar to the effect of sun damage on the skin, sun damage to the eyes is cumulative, meaning it’s never too early to start wearing sunglasses, but also to a point, some damage has already been done.

Research from The Vision Council, a non-profit trade organization for the optical industry, shows that although Americans are more aware of sun damage and the threat that UV rays pose on our visual health, we still are not protecting our eyes as much as we should. Although half of all baby boomers always or often practice sun safe eye health (53%), nearly 23% report rarely or never wearing shades. This is a pretty significant number, especially when we consider how easy protecting our eyes is: WEAR SUNGLASSES. Wear them every time you go outside during the day.

But is it this easy? How do you know that your sunglasses are working, and how do you select the best sunglasses to purchase? Let’s look at a few of the myths about sunglasses, and find out the truth about selecting your next pair of shades.

Myth #1: All sunglasses have UVA and UVB protection

Despite the health risks of UV exposure, not all sunglasses have UV protection. Since UV protection is crucial to shielding eyes from damaging radiation, it is imperative to look for a label, sticker or tag indicating UV protection before purchasing a pair of sunglasses.

Myth #2: Sunglasses with UV protection are expensive

You do not have to pay a premium price to get proper UV protection. Just be sure to purchase your sunglasses from a reputable retailer, regardless of price or retail location. Price will vary depending on the brands you prefer, your lens options, and any other add-ons, such as a prescription lens. Also, be sure to protect your purchase by using a glasses case when you are not wearing your glasses.

Myth #3: The darker the lens is, the better the protection

UV protection has nothing to do with the darkness or color of a lens. According to Dr. Justin Bazan, on optometrist from Brooklyn, NY, “Dark lenses without adequate UV protection can actually be worse than no sunglasses at all because they cause the eye’s pupil to dilate, which then increases retinal exposure to the unfiltered UV. Even though this may make eyes feel comfortable, it’s putting them at greater risk for damage.”

Over the past decade, designers and manufacturers have been constantly researching, testing and innovating new ways to advance the effectiveness and versatility of sunglasses. Talk with your eye care provider to learn more about the lenses and tints that work best for individual lifestyle needs.

Here are a few tips for making your next sunglasses purchase:

  • Buy from a reputable retailer, such as a store or online site. Unlike shades purchased from thrift stores or street vendors, sunglasses sold at trusted retailers meet frame and lens safety criteria set by industry standards.
  • Insist on protection from UVA/UVB rays. If you are unsure if a pair of sunglasses adequately blocks UV, many eye care providers can test the level of protection.
  • Select a lens color that improves clarity and reduces glare. Different colors and tints work in different ways.
  • When in doubt, consult a professional. Eye care providers will be able to make specific recommendations regarding which options are best for you. They can also often test an existing pair of sunglasses with a UV-meter to ensure that the sunglasses that you are wearing are providing proper protection.

For more information about UV eye safety, visit The Vision Council’s website,



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

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.

Welcome to the launch of the Low Vision Blog

Posted on: December 11th, 2012 by lowvision

Welcome to our low vision blog! We hope to bring you accounts of people living with low vision, their strategies, coping mechanisms and success stories. Although low vision cannot be reversed, with healthy practices and conscious effort, living with low vision can be fulfilling and satisfying. You can regain independence and confidence that you may have lost with your diagnosis.

Enjoy this website! If you or someone you care for has a story about living with low vision, please share it with us.

Wishing you well,

Erin Hildreth
The Vision Council