Three important resources and tools for the blind or visually impaired population:

  • The Facebook group “Iphone and Ipad apps for the Blind and Visually Impaired” – this is a tremendous group that allows people to share their successes, failures, and advice.
  • – this is another incredibly resource with blogs, advice and search engines on subjects affecting the blind or visually impaired.
  • “Reader View Available” – look for this message to pop up in the website address bar of any website you are viewing.  If available, click on the horizontal vertical lines in the far left corner of the web address bar and this will remove the advertising on the website and increase the font size of written words.

15 Tips For Family and Friends of Low Vision Patients

  1. Be direct about vision
    Ask questions so that you know. Don’t worry about using phrases like “Did you see Zelda yesterday?”
  2. Identify yourself, and say “hello”
    Don’t assume that others can see you.
  3. Give clear directions
    Say in words everything you want to convey.
  4. Use black felt-tip or ink pens, and print in clear lettering
    Always write notes so that they can be read, and consider calling instead.
  5. Give low-vision gifts
    Some suggestions: talking calculators, watches, clocks, thermometers, weight scales, or computer software. Large-button or automatic-dialing telephones, large print cards, clocks, calendars, or address books. Books on tape or tickets to a concert. Help purchase a CCTV.
  6. Keep the environment predictable
    Keep frequently-used items like house keys, salt shakers, and trash bags in designated places. Put things away after you use them, and close cupboard and stairwell doors. Return any item you move to the place you found it.
  7. Offer your arm, don’t take theirs
    Don’t take their arm, because you may throw them off-balance. Offer help where it’s necessary, but don’t just do it yourself.
  8. Don’t just do for your parent
    Don’t assume that because of low vision your parent isn’t capable, and don’t take away anyone’s reason for having to be up and about in the morning.
  9. Share activities you both enjoy
    Some suggestions:
    Dine out.
    Attend a wine tasting or food fair.
    Go to the symphony or an opera concert.
    Go to a botanical garden.
    Go to a lecture series, a book reading, or poetry reading.
    Start or join a salon, discussion group, or support group.
  10. Encourage interests
    Encourage hobbies, volunteer work, membership in senior clubs or support groups, and listening to National Public Radio news or to Newsweek on cassette tape. Just coping with low vision as a full-time preoccupation is a short-term recipe for boredom, and a long-term recipe for personal distress and crisis.
  11. Realize the importance of friends
    Without any friends, seniors are prone to loneliness, which may lead to clinical depression. Adult children would do their parents a great service by helping them make or keep friends.
  12. Watch for depression
    Depression is very common among people with MD. Be aware of changes in your friend or family member’s emotional state, sleeping patterns, weight, or behavior. Signals for depression are excessive worry, bouts of crying, listlessness or disinterest, low motivation, pessimism or snippiness, social withdrawal, a refusal to communicate or an excessively stiff upper lip, moping, or helplessness. If you see signs of depression, make a doctor’s appointment, pursue visual rehabilitation, and encourage involvement in new activities.
  13. Participate in visual rehabilitation
    There are many practical things you can do to help someone follow a program of visual rehabilitation. Here are just a few suggestions:Help rearrange furniture, tape down area rugs, install new lighting fixtures, choose contrasting tablecloths or dishes.Help rearrange clothing on shelves for better visibility.

    Help label files, boxes, bottle, stove dials, washing machine dials, and canned goods.

    Talk directly to your friend or family member about his or her experiences and feelings about low vision.

  14. Help start a support group
    At a low vision support group, your friend or family member would have the chance to talk to people who have walked a mile in their shoes and can understand their experiences. They can also be very helpful for spouses of people with low vision.
  15. Keep your sense of humor
    We are all prone to taking life too seriously. Let your friend or family member see the daily humor in this busy, unpredictable, ridiculous, profound, heartbreaking, and heartwarming experience we call living.

More information here.

Aging and Vision Loss Facts

Today, 6.5 million Americans over age 65 have a severe visual impairment, according to the Longitudinal Prevalence of Major Eye Diseases 2003 study. Experts predict that by 2030, rates of severe vision loss will double along with the country’s aging population (Prevent Blindness America’s Vision Problems in the U.S., 2002).

The first wave of the 78 million baby boom generation turns 65 in 2011, jumpstarting a two-decade period of growth in America’s 65 and older population (Administration on Aging). By 2030, the number of people over the age of 65 will double to 71.5 million, or 20 percent of the population.

The risk of low vision and blindness increases significantly with age, particularly in those over age 65 (2004 National Eye Institute study).

Additional facts here.

Blindness and Low Vision Resources From the Veteran’s Administration

Blindness is considered one of the most devastating disabilities that can affect an individual, striking people of all ages and walks of life. The term legal blindness is, however, a deceiving one. The generally accepted definition of legal blindness is either central visual acuity of 20/200 or worse in the better eye with the use of corrective glasses; or, central visual acuity better than 20/200 in the better eye with visual field deficits in which the widest diameter of peripheral fields is 20 degrees or less. The definition of low vision used to generate estimates of veterans with low vision is central visual acuity equal to or less than 20/70 but greater than 20/200 in the better seeing eye with the use of corrective glasses. Continue reading “Blindness and Low Vision Resources From the Veteran’s Administration”

El Por Venir, Honduras — 2012

Team 4Eyes went to serve the people of El Por Venir, a small village in the mountainous western region of Honduras. Over the course of four days, 535 people were given prescription distance glasses, near glasses, or sunglasses, depending on their needs. The team members were Katherine and Kory Cummings, LeeAnn Finch, and Lisa Kile.

Operation Ecuador — June 2011

A group from Southside Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas, joined with doctors, nurses and other volunteers from churches in Oklahoma, Colorado and Washington for a medical mission trip to the Cayapas River in Ecuador. The Fort Worth team’s purpose was to provide vision screening, eyeglasses and sunglasses to villagers around the Kumanii Christian Center, a mission outreach center owned by the Operation Ecuador Foundation. We also worked with local church missionaries from the Quito School of Biblical Studies to help educate villagers about hygiene and sanitation, while also sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.