Top 10 Articles of 2015

eye facts and eye disease
In looking at the many articles we shared with you in 2015, we found that your interests were varied. From the science of vision, eye facts and eye disease to helpful suggestions to help your vision.

Here is the list of the top 10 articles you read last year. Do you have a favorite that is not on the list? Share it in the comments section below.

    1. Rods and Cones Give Us Color, Detail and Night Vision
    2. 20 Facts About the Amazing Eye
    3. Understanding and Treating Corneal Scratches and Abrasions
    4. 32 Facts About Animal Eyes
    5. 20 Facts About Eye Color and Blinking
    6. When You See Things That Aren’t There
    7. Posterior Vitreous Detachment
    8. Can Keratoconus Progression Be Predicted?
    9. Winter Weather and Your Eyes
    10. Coffee and Glaucoma: “1-2 cups of coffee is probably fine, but…”

Do you have any topics you would like to see discussed in the blog? Please leave any suggestions you might have in the comments below.


Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

Silent Thief of Sight – Glaucoma

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. The National Eye Institute, through their education program NEHEP, have created this infographic to provide you with information you need to know about this blinding eye disease.

When adults reach their 40s, they often begin to notice small changes in their vision that can affect their daily lives and jobs. It could be difficulty in reading a book or working on a computer. This can be annoying, but it can often be addressed by seeing an eye care professional for comprehensive dilated eye exam. This allows the doctor to detect diseases and conditions that can cause vision loss and blindness and yet have no symptoms in their early stages.

Silent Thief of Sight – Glaucoma

Glaucoma is one of these age-related eye diseases that has no early symptoms, which is why it is called the silent thief of sight. It is actually a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form disease.

In addition to an eye exam, you can reduce your chances of losing your vision to glaucoma by also:

  1. Live a healthy lifestyle that includes maintaining a proper weight, eating healthy foods, and not smoking.
  2. Know your family history to determine if you are at a higher risk for some eye diseases.
  3. Protect your eyes against harmful UV rays from the sun or your computer by wearing sunglasses when you are outdoors or computer glasses when using the computer for extended periods of time.
Silent thief of sight glacoma
Courtesy of NEI/NEHEP


Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

Best Wishes From Discovery Eye Foundation

As 2015 draws to a close, we want to thank you for reading this blog and trusting us to answer your questions. This blog is the product of a great group of eye care professionals and Discovery Eye Foundation (DEF) staff. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to DEF to show your appreciation.

Donate to Discovery Eye Foundation
New year 2016 and old year 2015 written on sandy beach with waves

We look forward to continuing to provide you with the most current information on vision, eye diseases, resources and personal stories in 2016.

Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2016!


Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

9 Tips To Relieve Digital Eye Strain

Online shopping has continued to grow this year, which means more people are spending more time on computers, tablets and phones. While the convenience of online shopping can’t be beat, it could be costing us sleep, giving us headaches, making our vision blurry…and even affecting our posture.

Digital Eye Strain

Digital eye strain (DES), also known as computer vision syndrome (CVS), is a consequence of spending two or more hours at a time looking at a digital screen. Nearly 30% of adults spend more than 9 hours each day using digital devices, while 25% of children use digital devices more than 3 hours a day.

This can result in dry or itchy eyes, blurred vision, eye twitches, headaches and even back and neck pain. Using digital devices for an extended period of time increases your tendency to lean into the device, as you try to focus or compensate for glare from reflected light (room lighting or windows). Holding these positions for long periods of time are what create the back and neck pain.

As for the many eye symptoms, they can come from

  • poor lighting
  • improper viewing distance from device
  • not blinking often enough
  • poor screen contrast
  • glare on the screen
  • UV blue light

To help you deal with DES, here are 9 tips to relieve digital eye strain.

9 tips to relieve digital eye strain


Susan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

5 Elements of Accessible Web Design

A common misconception is that all you need to have a successful blog or website is good content. While content people want to read is important, if you can’t see it, or it is difficult to read, very few people are going to take the time to try. There is lots of good content to choose from.

Making your content easy to scan and read and using great graphics that can tell a story are just as important. Especially if you want to reach the millions of potential readers that are blind or visually impaired.

While a person with low vision (due to age-related macular degeneration, cataracts,glaucoma or other eye diseases that are related to aging) can increase font size or graphics by enlarging them with a pinch of the fingers or scroll of the mouse, the result is often blurry and still difficult to see.

If a person is blind and using a screen reader, what they hear may not match what is written or displayed. A picture without underlying descriptive text is worthless. And when a blind person is using a screen reader to read a web site, they will often tab from link to link to scan your article, skipping over your text, to get a sense of what the options are. “Click here” says doesn’t tell the reader anything.

Here are 5 essential elements of accessible web design.

5 elements of accessible web design


Susan DeRemerSusan DeRenmer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

6 Tips to Help With Holiday Stress

We all know that the holidays can be stressful with the many demands of shopping, baking, parties and the expectation that you should be filled with cheer and goodwill. This is all daunting under the best circumstances, but if you are also losing your vision to eye diseases such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, the depression can increase.

6 Tips to Help With Holiday Stress

holiday stress
Being realistic, planning ahead and asking for help will let you deal with the stress and depression that may come with the holidays. Here are six tips that will help you deal with the pressures of the holidays, with additional tips for those with vision loss.

  1. Begin by realizing you don’t have to be happy just because the holidays are here. You may have experienced a loss of someone close to you that makes celebrating the holidays hard.
    With vision loss: You may miss seeing or putting up decorations; baking for friends and family; or seeing the joy and smiles of loved ones. You can’t force yourself to be cheerful because of the time of year.

  3. While the common reaction to depression is stay home and isolate yourself, don’t, it will only make you feel worse and dwell on things you cannot change. Join friends when they ask you out, find community events to attend or volunteer. Sharing time with others can provide a welcome distraction and lift your spirits.
    With vision loss: It is common to be uncomfortable with asking friends and family for a ride, but if they are attending the same party of community event, ask them if you can get a ride. They won’t mind a will be glad you are there. Worst case, call a taxi or use Uber.

  5. Don’t expect perfection. You need to define for yourself what would make a great holiday and not let the media and retail stores tell you what the holidays should be. Also remember that your traditions will change as your family changes and grows. Look at this as an opportunity to be creative and start new traditions.
    With vision loss: Scale your holiday to what is comfortable to you. If fewer decorations make it safer and easier for you to navigate around your home, then reduce the number of things that go up to a few larger items you can enjoy more easily – you can even “decorate” with holiday music.

    Even traditions may need to change. Allow someone else to host the family or neighborhood celebrations. It is nice to pass the honor on and you won’t be so stressed and tired you can’t enjoy the festivities.

  6. Plan ahead so you don’t feel the pressure. This refers to budgeting both time and money.
         • Plan extra time for decorating, shopping, baking, wrapping presents, or any other activity you want to include. Rarely do things run smoothly, especially at holiday time.
        • Decide how much money you can spend, and stick to it. To make money go further, give homemade gifts, start a gift exchange instead of shopping for everyone in your family or office, or make a donation to a charity in someone’s name.

    With vision loss: The same concepts apply – you need to budget your time and money.

  7. Don’t over extend yourself and learn to say no. If you don’t you may become resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and family will understand if you can’t do everything. If your guilt gets the better of you, ask the person making the request to help with the tasks. They will gain a new appreciation of what you do.
    With vision loss: Don’t be afraid to let people know that you may not be able to do things as easily as you could in the past. No one, except you, know the limitations you have with your vision. It can be very uncomfortable for others if they think they are asking too much of you, and you could become resentful for being asked to do something beyond your capabilities.

  9. Stay healthy. The best way to do this is to watch what you eat and drink, get plenty of sleep, continue any exercise routine you have and take time to relax.
         • You will be tempted with lots of sweets and snacks. Try eating something healthy like cut veggies before you go to the party to curb your appetite. Remember to limit your alcohol because of the calories and the fact that it is a depressant.
         • Sleep will keep you alert and better able to focus what you want to get done and will help keep you more positive.
         • Exercise is a great way to help relieve the stress you feel, give you an extra burst of energy and help you clear your head.
         • Taking 15-20 minutes to just listen to music, take a bath, go for a walk or read book can help you think more clearly and relax. You will actually get more done when you can “re-charge” yourself.

    With vision loss: Everything listed above is good for good eye health. A good diet of brightly colored fruits and vegetables and exercise are very important. Being tired can affect how well you see, and stress has been known to have an adverse effect on a person’s vision.

Because of the busy holiday season, this month we will only be publishing once a week, on Tuesdays.


Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

Low Vision Aging Adults at Higher Risk for Falls

Low vision in aging adults varies as do the occupational therapy techniques that might help older adults in becoming more independent. Mr. P has glaucoma resulting in a narrowed field of view. He is light sensitive, and keeps his blinds closed, darkening the house. He is responsible for doing his laundry, yet his washer and dryer are in the basement, causing a safety concern. Mrs. K has macular degeneration with 20/400 visual acuity. She has severely reduced contrast sensitivity, and can no longer drive or recognize faces easily. She no longer gets to the senior center for regular exercise sessions, which is concerning to her and her OT. Ms. T was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. She has struggled for years to accurately see her glucometer and insulin. She has recently developed peripheral neuropathy, leading to wheelchair dependency. Each of these patients is likely to leave their home less often because of their low vision, eventually leading to a decline in lower extremity weakness, balance, endurance and confidence. The fear of falling leads to more isolation, which can cause even more lower extremity weakness, problems with balance, decreased endurance, and even depression. The irony is that this cycle, which began with caution and a fear of falling, lends itself to exactly that. . .a fall.

Why are low-vision aging adults at higher risk for falls?

According to the CDC, “Each year, millions of older people-those 65 and older-fall. In fact, one out of three older people fall each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.” The typical aging adult with low vision faces challenges that others do not. Difficulty seeing details combined with reduced contrast sensitivity leads to a decline in mobility and socialization.
risk for falls
risk for falls
So how do we help older adults with low vision lower their risk for falling? When considering safety within the home, persons with low vision must make it a priority to add lighting & contrast whenever possible. Consider all rooms of the house, including entrances, hallways and stairways.

  • Placement of night lights in hallways, stairway, etc.

  • Keep flashlights in accessible places throughout the home where night lights are not possible.

  • Instead of closing blinds, keep them open & wear appropriate colored filters to manage glare/light sensitivity.

  • Small battery operated stick-on lights or rope lighting is inexpensive, and easy to place on steps to light up a stairwell.

  • Line edge of steps, or stairway railing with brightly colored duct tape to increase visibility.

  • Make sure grab bars, tub benches, shower chair are high contrast, to be most visible.

  • Remove throw rugs, with the exception of those providing function, such as the one at the entrance and bathtub. Their purpose is for providing dry shoes and feet, but they should have a non-skid back and a high contrast color to “stand out.”

  • Reduce clutter in rooms to increase safety by removing items from floors, walkways and stairwells.

  • Consider investing in a Medical Alert System to provide added piece of mind, confidence, especially when living alone.

Persons with low vision can decrease their frequency of falls by staying social and walking in the community. Unfortunately, many low vision adults become more house bound when they can no longer drive. Locating sources of alternative transportation may be helpful. Seeing faces is difficult, making socializing a challenge, which can lead to depression. The following recommendations take into consideration the challenges of not seeing details or across the visual field normally, while improving lower body strength, endurance, coordination, confidence, and hopefully reducing the risk of a fall.

  • Encourage regular trips to the grocery stores and the mall to keep physically fit. Malls are safe environments to walk around because of wide, straight hallways. Use magnifiers to see price tag/label details, or take advantage of personal shoppers who assist with locating items.

  • Participate in regularly scheduled exercise sessions (videos, groups, etc). Sit/stand in the front row, ask instructor to provide clear verbal instruction, instead of only demonstration. Consider hiring a personal trainer in order to get 1:1 instructions for how to use exercise equipment. If watching a video, move closer to your largest TV screen. Home exercise equipment can be labeled with high contrast markings to increase visibility of its details.

  • Consider joining a senior center in the community. Some have low vision support groups.

  • Access driving alternatives, such as the Smart Bus, Senior Centers, Local Volunteer or Church groups. Consider using money previously spent for a car and its expenses to hire a private driver.

  • Use appropriate colored filters in bright outside conditions or darker inside environments (i.e. Amber outside in the sun; Yellow inside a dark restaurant or outside with overcast weather).

  • Consider using a walker or support cane when walking longer distances in the community or neighborhood. Many individuals decline using an assistive device, not realizing how active and fit it can make them. Rolling walkers are even available with seats, allowing for rest breaks wherever necessary.

While the fear of falling is great amongst all seniors, those with low vision need to consider adding strategies that specifically benefit them. Making changes within the home may be as simple as improving lighting and contrast. Remaining physically fit outside of the home may be done with shopping or exercise equipment, but either way staying active will improve confidence, the fear of falling, and hopefully decrease the chance of a fall. If you are unsure of what approach is best for you, consult with your ophthalmologist about scheduling a low vision eye exam and occupational therapy.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control-CDC 24/7: Saving Lives, Protecting People


Annette Babinski's headshot thumbnailAnnette M. Babinski, OTR/L CLVT
Henry Ford Health System
Vision Rehabilitation Center

Michelle Buck's headshot thumbnailMichelle Buck, MS, OTR/L CLVT
Henry Ford Health System
Vision Rehabilitation Center

#GivingTuesday for Discovery Eye Foundation

Four years ago #GivingTuesday was started to use some of the focus on holiday shopping and direct donations to charities that had been providing services, information, education, research, etc. to benefit people throughout the year. It was a way for people to show appreciation and support for nonprofit organizations that had helped them or engaged in something they were passionate about.

giving for eye research

Discovery Eye Foundation started this blog almost two years ago to provide consistently updated information on vision, eye health, nutrition and other eye-related information to people with eye diseases or those that wanted to keep their eyes healthy. DEF is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that has been supporting eye research since 1971. Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading this blog and found the information and comments useful.

In honor of #GivingTuesday, please show your support for this blog and DEF eye research by making a donation today!

Thank you.


Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation