Walk In My Shoes

Walk In My ShoesDiscovery Eye Foundation is pleased to present the following excerpt from a just-released inspirational book called Walk in My Shoes. It is the result of two years of collaborative effort and is a unique collection of 27 powerful stories by individuals who are experiencing or witnessing the challenges of losing not one, but two senses: hearing and sight. The writers of Walk in My Shoes offer a glimpse into living with Usher syndrome, a progressive disease leading to blindness and deafness. Walk in My Shoes speaks to the more than 400,000 people worldwide dealing with Usher syndrome, to their families, to the professionals working with them, and to the rest of the world.

All proceeds from book sales will be donated to the Usher Syndrome Coalition to help fund scholarships to its annual conferences and to support research for a cure. The writers inspire hope for anyone dealing with difficult life challenges.


MY USHER’S LIFE LESSONS
By Mary Dignan

I remember how I wanted to die, or at least for the Earth to open up and swallow me forever, when I read that memo telling me how I’d been asking questions that had already been asked and answered, and how I’d said things that were irrelevant and inappropriate at our meeting earlier that day. I had always known that the hearing problem was more of an issue than the visual field loss associated with Usher syndrome. Now, this memo was the proof that I never should have tried being a lawyer, that I had no business in this profession, and should just go home.

Instead of going home, I got up to close the door to my office, sat back down at my desk, and picked up the memo from Tom to read it again. Tom was my supervising attorney, and we had both been looking forward to that meeting with a potential new client. The work would be on an issue that no one at the firm knew better than I and we were sure we’d close the meeting with the retainer agreement in hand.

But the meeting just didn’t go well. It started off well enough, but there were some odd pauses in the conversation, moments of uncertainty and careful courtesy, and I didn’t feel good about it when it was over even though we did, in fact, end up with the retainer agreement. I was still thinking about the meeting a couple hours later when Tom’s secretary came into my office and handed me an envelope, sealed and marked “confidential.”

It was a memo from Tom. “Mary, I need to make you aware of some things I observed during our meeting today.” He listed specific things I’d said and described how I’d asked questions that had just been discussed, and how I’d said things that were irrelevant to the actual conversation. He said he and the client both knew I wore hearing aids and assumed I simply hadn’t heard things accurately. He said that because I had an excellent reputation as a truly competent professional, and because he and the client knew how well I knew the issue, they made allowances for me, and we got the account. Still, Tom was concerned. “Mary, I’m wondering if you’re not hearing as well as you used to, and if there is anything we can do to help.”

My hands were trembling as I put the memo back down on my desk, and I felt a hot flush rise up from my toes to my face. God, what an incompetent idiot I must have sounded like. I was even more embarrassed by the courteous smiles and patient repetitions, the polite allowances they had made for the incompetent idiot. It would have been better if someone had just growled at me to go put in some fresh hearing aid batteries.

But, when I read the memo yet again, I began to appreciate the inherent respect and sincere consideration Tom was showing me. Instead of confronting me with the painful truth, Tom could have just stopped working with me. He could have started whispering behind my back: ”Uh, best not give that assignment to Mary, she can’t handle it.” Or, “No, Mary’s not the best one to attend that meeting, she can’t handle it well.” And I would have slipped into miserable mediocrity.

He didn’t and, instead, he came to me and told me exactly how I wasn’t cutting it, and gave me the chance to find a way to measure up. I decided that before I handed in my resignation letter, I’d at least find out if there was a better hearing aid out there. I called my audiologist and told him what had happened. He told me I was already using the best and most powerful hearing aids available, but there might be one other thing I could do, “It’s time for you to get an FM system. Come on down this afternoon and we’ll get you set up.” This was an assistive hearing device that would enhance the use of hearing aids and therefore allow me to hear better.

I was in my early 40s then, down to less than 5 degrees of tunnel vision and wearing two high-power hearing aids. I still had good precision vision within my little tunnel. For the last 20 years of slow but steady vision and hearing losses, I had always figured out ways to work harder and smarter. It was the hearing losses that troubled me most. I’d been wearing the best high-power hearing aids for years, and was so good at reading lips and body language that it was easy to forget I had a hearing problem. But as my vision started to go and I could no longer read lips and body language well, we all began to comprehend just how deaf I really was. It didn’t matter so much that I was mowing down my colleagues in our office hallways, but responding inappropriately to clients and judges was a huge problem.

It took practice and patience to develop the skill to use my new FM system effectively, but the effort paid off. My FM system worked well because I made it work, and I made it comfortable for everyone around me to work with me.

There were several lessons, or rather reminders, for me out of that whole incident, including the fact that it’s just about impossible to die of humiliation, no matter how much you may want to. More importantly, I was reminded that everyone around me took their cues from me—if I was uncomfortable with the fact that I had to use an FM system to hear, everyone else would be uncomfortable with it too. So I not only learned to use the FM system well, I also learned to introduce myself and my tools with candor and humor.

”Hi, I’m Mary Dignan from Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann and Girard, representing the State Water Contractors, and that’s my FM system in the middle of the table there. It helps me hear, and I would appreciate it if you would not touch the mike or the wires because it sends a lot of irritating static directly to my hearing aids.” I’d pull my aids slightly out from behind my ears to make them obvious and then I’d put them back, and go on. “The other thing you need to know about me is that I only see through a little keyhole,“ and here I would make a keyhole tunnel of my fist and peek through it, “which means I can see you.” Then I would point at someone else, “But I don’t see Tom sitting next to you,” and pointing at Tom I would continue, “This is a good thing because I don’t like looking at Tom anyway.”

That would generate a few chuckles. “This is my cane,” I would add, picking up my telescoping white cane from the table and opening it. “I use this to find the stuff that doesn’t show up in my keyhole when I’m walking around and it’s also highly useful for whacking people in the ankles and patooties.” More chuckles, and then we’d move on and get down to business.

I learned not to waste energy on trying to cover up my vision and hearing challenges. That meant I had more energy to focus on doing my job, and doing it well. I didn’t worry about attending conferences or night meetings, because I learned how to use my white cane to get around on my own safely and gracefully. I also learned to ask for and accept a helping arm with grace. I learned that if you are good at your work, and especially if you are a good team player, your colleagues will be willing to make any reasonable accommodations you need. Even before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the term “reasonable accommodation” joined our vocabulary, I had no problem getting hearing-aid-compatible phones, lighting and other low-vision aids, adaptive computer technologies, and even cab rides when I had to stop driving.

I learned that when my colleagues knew I was putting my best effort into making things work, most of them were willing to put in a little extra effort themselves to help me out. Sometimes it was as simple as giving me an extra few seconds to get my FM system set up before they started the meeting, or steering me around pillars, potted plants and people that seem to always get in one’s way at a crowded conference, or giving me a ride home. Sometimes it was sending me a memo telling me honestly about some problems I needed to be aware of in order to figure out ways to solve them.

The FM system was a good solution for a few years. It turned out that, apart from the Usher Syndrome, one of the reasons I kept losing more of my hearing was an acoustic neuroma brain tumor that grew out of the cochlear nerve to my right ear. The surgery to remove the tumor saved my life but exacerbated my hearing and vision challenges so much that I had to give up my legal career.

Ten years after the brain tumor surgery I received a cochlear implant, which greatly improved my hearing. I still have trouble with background noise, and I can only hear out of one ear, but I hear better than I ever could before. It is the one thing in my life that has gotten easier. I am 60 now, with almost no vision left except some high-contrast shapes in a world of murky shadows spiked with glare.

Those lessons I learned years ago still apply today and I have come to realize that this is because they are Life Lessons, not merely issues particular to Usher Syndrome or any other disability. I have also come to realize that part of learning and developing one’s abilities is as much a lesson of disability as it is ability. One such lesson came from my friend Brian, an extraordinarily competent computer wizard who was born blind.

Brian can listen the way I used to be able to read a thousand words a minute, and his orientation and mobility skills are awesome. We often talked about the differences between being totally blind from birth, and going blind later in life. Apart from the life adaptation and grieving issues, the main differences we noted involved the ways we perceived and comprehended the world around us. I told him about a totally blind guy who had a hard time wrapping his mind around the concept of transparency. He just couldn’t make out how a hard cold pane of glass that he could rap his knuckles on was something you could “see” through.

“Oh, I don’t have a problem with that concept,” Brian said. “My problem is pictures.”

“Pictures?” I questioned.

“Yeah, pictures,” Brian said. “How can you put a three-dimensional world onto a flat piece of paper?”

I remember my jaw dropping as I stared at him and began to comprehend how rich and real the world is to Brian. He can’t see any of it, but he knows it intimately. He moves in a world that he perceives physically and kinesthetically through all his other senses. He is always aware of how his surroundings feel, smell and sound. In a lot of ways, he is much more aware of and intimate with his world than most sighted people who superficially see their worlds from a distance and from a flat piece of paper.

Brian taught me that even though I am losing all my sight, I still have a rich world to perceive through touch, taste, sound, feeling, smell and experience. This, too, is a Life Lesson, not just an Usher thing, but it is a lesson sweeter because of Usher syndrome. It does not lessen the pain of losing my vision, and it doesn’t even necessarily make my life easier. But it does give me hope and joy. It is the reason I’m still doing my mosaics (with a little sighted help here and there), the reason I’m still in my kitchen baking from scratch and making up new recipes, the reason I can tell when I’m on the beach or in the redwood forest, or even just out on my patio enjoying the evening breeze and garden scents. And it is the reason I know I still have a good life to live.
 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Dignan was diagnosed as mentally retarded before the moderate-severe deafness was diagnosed close to age five. She was then fitted with hearing aids and attended public schools. At the age of 20 she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa and, years later, was told she had Usher syndrome, type 2.

Ms Dignan earned a B.A. in English/written communication from Santa Clara University in 1976. Her 21 year career in agriculture and water resources management issues includes work as a news reporter, legislative aide to the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., and the California State Assembly Committee on Agriculture in Sacramento. She earned her juris doctorate with distinction from the University of Pacific-McGeorge School of Law in 1994 and practiced law until 1997. She now creates and teaches mosaic art and her work has been shown in several public venues including: Sacramento Society for the Blind and the Canadian Helen Keller Centre in Toronto, Canada. Her community service includes serving on the Sacramento Board of Supervisors’ Disability Advisory Committee, and on the Board of Directors of the FFB, Sacramento Chapter. She is a present member of the Sacramento Embarcadero Lions Club. Ms Dignan lives in Sacramento with her husband, Andy Rosten.

Layers of the Retina

The retina at the back of the eye is essential for all vision. Each layer of cells in this tissue serves a specific purpose. As we prepare for Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month in February, a closer look at the layers of the retina and their function.

layers of the retina

Layers of the Retina

Choroid – This is made up of a layer of blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the retina. Defect in the CHM gene can cause choroideremia, leaky blood vessels can expand in the retina causing wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal pigment epithelium – This is a single layer of cells that provide essential nutrition and waste removal for the photoreceptor cells. Accumulation of waste can lead to AMD and Stargardt disease.

Photorecptors – This is where the rods and cones are located that convert light into electrical signals. Rods help you with night and peripheral vision. Cones are more concentrated in the macula (the central part of the retina) and proved central and color vision. Death of the rods can cause vision loss called retinitis pigmentosa, while AMD is the loss of central vision.

Horizontal cells – These cells are connect to the photoreceptors that surround the bipolar connected photoreceptor cells and help the help integrate and regulate the input from multiple photoreceptor cells, increasing your visual acuity.

Bipolar cells – The dependence of each layer of the retina on each other is exemplified here. These cells take the electrical information from the photoreceptor cells and pass it along to other retinal cells.

Ganglion cells – These cells extend to form an optic nerve that conveys information to the brain and take the electrical information from the bipolar cells and process it to determine shapes, contrast and color. Glaucoma vision loss results from high intraocular pressure that affects the optic nerve, interrupting the signals to the brain.

1/26/16


 

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

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.

1/7/16


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

The Importance of An Eye Exam

Why You Need An Eye Exam

The end of the year is fast approaching – when was the last time you had an eye exam? Was it a comprehensive eye exam?
eye exam
To keep your eyes healthy and maintain your vision, the American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends a comprehensive eye exam every two years for adults ages 18 to 60, and annual exams for people age 61 and older. However, if you have a family history of eye disease (glaucoma, macular degeneration, etc.), diabetes or high blood pressure, or have had an eye injury or surgery, you should have a comprehensive exam every year, unless otherwise indicated by your doctor.
Also, adults who wear contact lenses should have annual eye exams.

An important part of the comprehensive eye exam is the dilated eye exam to look inside your eye. Drops are placed in each eye to widen the pupil and allow more light to enter the eye. This gives your doctor a clear view of important tissues at the back of the eye, including the retina, the macula, and the optic nerve. This allows for early diagnosis of sight-threatening eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, etc.

To better understand the importance of the dilated eye exam, here is a video from the National Eye Institute (NE) that explains what to expect.

At the end of your comprehensive eye exam your doctor should raise any concerns he has with you. But it is up to you to be prepared to react and ask questions for peace of mind and to help save your vision.

Questions To Ask After Your Eye Exam

It is always important to know if anything about your eyes have changed since your last visit. If the doctor says no, then the only thing you need to know is when they want to see you again.

If the doctor says the have been some minor changes, you need to know what questions to ask, such as:

  • Is my condition stable, or can I lose more sight?
  • What new symptoms should I watch out for?
  • Is there anything I can do to improve or help my vision?
  • When is the next time you want to see me?

If the doctor sees a marked change in your vision or give you a diagnosis of eye disease, you would want to ask:

  • Are there treatments for my eye disease?
  • When should I start treatment and how long will it last?
  • What are the benefits of this treatment and how successful is it?
  • What are the risks and possible side effects associated with this treatment?
  • Are there any foods, medications, or activities I should avoid while I am undergoing this treatment?
  • If I need to take medication, what should I do if I miss a dose or have a reaction?
  • Are there any other treatments available?
  • Will I need more tests necessary later?
  • How often should I schedule follow-up visits? Should I be monitored on a regular basis?
  • Am I still safe to drive?

Your vision is a terrible thing to lose, but with proper diet, exercise and no smoking, along with regularly scheduled eye exams, you improve your chances of maintaining your sight.

11/5/15

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

Vision Loss and Depression

On Tuesday, September 29, 2015, the National Eye Institute (NEI) hosted a Twitter chat on vision loss and depression. Here are some highlights of that discussion, along with some great resources to learn more about dealing with vision loss and depression.
vision loss and depression

  • Many studies show that people with vision loss or low vision are at risk for depression, although not everyone with vision loss gets depressed.
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  • A person with low vision is defined as someone who finds it difficult to do daily tasks even with regular glasses, contacts, medications or surgery.
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  • The number of Americans with low vision will increase over 70% by 2030. Broken down by ethnicity, African Americans with low vision will increase 93% and Hispanics with low vision will increase 190% during the same period. This is due to the rapidly aging Boomer population. 88% of Americans with low vision are age 65 and older.
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  • Symptoms of depression include persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, irritability and fatigue. It is a common and serious illness that interferes with daily life. Each year, about 6.7% of American adults experience major depressive disorder. Women and men experience depression differently, with women 70% more likely to experience depression than men.
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  • People 65 and older are at particular risk for developing serious depression related to vision loss and yet it is often underdiagnosed and undertreated. Older adults may have other, less obvious symptoms of depression or they may not be willing to talk about their feelings. Many overlooked because sadness is not their main symptom. It is important to remember that while depression is a common problem among older adults, it is not a normal part of aging.
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  • An estimated 29-58% of those who suffer significant vision loss have major depressive disorder one year later. People with vision loss are 2x more likely to be depressed than someone without vision loss. Depression can be very disabling and may reduce the effectiveness of low vision rehabilitation interventions.
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  • A recent study confirmed age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a big contributor to depression risk, as it accounts for about 45% of low vision cases.
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  • Older adults w/ vision loss are also 3X more likely to report difficulty in 1) walking, 2) managing medications, and 3) preparing meals. In fact about 39% of people with severe vision loss experience activities of daily living ADL limitations, compared to 7% of those with better vision. ADLs include eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, walking and continence.
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  • A link between depression and vision loss was also found in people as young as 20 according to a recent study. It looked at over 10,000 adults in the US and found they were approximately 2x more likely to be depressed.
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  • A decline in vision can also be associated with lower emotional, physical, and social functioning. To help those with low vision avoid depression it is important that they remain active and engaged in the world around them. And while people may become depressed because of vision loss, other causes of depression may also be present.
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  • An integrated approach to depression management in older adults with impaired vision may be the best course of action. Behavioral activation helps people recognize that loss of the activities they enjoyed that have led to depression and encourages them to find ways to re-engage with these activities. After 4 months, behavioral activation reduced the risk of depression by 50% compared to the control group. Behavioral activation can be used alone, or as part of psychotherapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
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  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people with depression restructure negative thought patterns and to correct distorted thinking that is often part of depression. But it is important to remember that the best approach to treating depression is to personalize it for each individual.
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  • Often, the combination of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy is a very effective option for depression treatment. Other time-limited psychotherapies, including interpersonal therapy (IPT) are effective in treating depression in people of all ages.
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  • Collaboration between eye care and mental health professionals can help people with vision loss improve their quality of life.

Resources
Understanding depression

How to live with low vision

Living with Low vision – How you can help webinar

Update on depression and AMD

Association of vison loss and depression in those over 20

Sadness impairs color perception

Rehab helps prevent depression from age-related vision loss

10/6/15

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

Vision Rehabilitation Services

The term “vision rehabilitation” covers a wide range of services that can help you learn how to remain active with vision loss while maintaining your independence and quality of life.
sorting meds - vision rehabilitation

Vision Rehabilitation Services

The following are different vision rehabilitation services you can access in addition to the information and help you will receive from your ophthalmologist or optometrist.

  • Communication skills: These help you with reading, writing and assistive computer technology. In some cases you may even want to learn braille.
  • Counseling: This can be beneficial, not only to you, but and family and/or friends that want to better understand or help you with your vision loss.
  • Independent living skills: These skills can be a simple as learning how to cook safely, take care of your personal appearance, manage your finances, keep exercising, or enjoy hobbies. The people that come to your home to help you keep your independent may also suggest home modifications to make life easier and help ensure your safety.
  • Independent movement and travel skills: These skills are important not only to help with your independence, but also to keep you from isolating yourself. Isolation is a common problem with vision loss as you may not want people to know you are losing your vision, or you are afraid of falling or embarrassing yourself. However, isolation can lead to depression.
  • Low vision evaluations and training: There are a variety of hand-held and desktop magnifiers, special reading glasses, lighting sources and other devices that help you make the most of your remaining vision.
  • Vocational rehabilitation: Loss of vision does not necessarily mean you can no longer work. Vocational evaluation and training, along with job modification and restructuring, can keep you enjoying the work you have enjoyed and depend on.


laptop help - vision rehabilitation

Vision Rehabilitation Service Providers

When looking for vision rehabilitation services, what should you know? You are best looking for a specially trained person including low vision therapists, vision rehabilitation therapists, and orientation and mobility specialists. They each have completed a standardized certification process that will let them help guide you as you work toward your vision goals.

  • Certified Low Vision Therapists (CLVTs): These therapists work with you to use your remaining vision with various devices and assistive technology. They also help you determine what modification you might need at home or work to remain independent and safe.
  • Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (CVRTs): These therapists teach special adaptive skills that will allow you to confidently carry out a range of daily activities.
  • Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS or O&Ms): These specialists teach skills that help you navigate safely and confidently when you are home, in the community or traveling far from home. This can include the use of a cane, GPS devices or public transportation. They also include guide dog instructors, but this training is more intense and takes place at a guide dog facility for several days.

To remain active and independent may require learning new skills, but it is important to find the right person to help you learn those skills. By finding the best person to suit your needs, the process can be a fun and positive experience.

9/17/15

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

Which Eye Care Specialist Do You Need?

It’s time to get your eyes checked – do you go to an ophthalmologist, optometrist or optician? Your optometrist sees the beginnings of age-related macular degeneration, but is sending you to see and ophthalmologist, why?
eye care specialist
One of the most confusing things about taking care of your eyes can be differentiating between an ophthalmologist, optometrist and optician. Each eye care specialist has a very important part to play in the health of your eyes and here is a quick synopsis of what each does so you can choose the best one for your vision issues and treatment.

Ophthalmologist
These specialists are fully trained medical doctors that have completed the eight years of training beyond a bachelor’s degree. Their training has included a full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses and giving eye injections, to carrying out intricate eye surgeries. Many doctors may also be involved eye research to better understand vision, improve eye disease treatments or potentially find a cure. They are easily identified by the MD following their name.

Optometrist
These medical professionals have completed a four-year program at an accredited school of optometry. They have been trained to prescribe and fit glasses and contact lenses, as well as diagnose and treat various eye diseases. They provide treatments through topical therapeutic agents and oral drugs, and are licensed to perform certain types of laser surgery, such as Lasik. They are easily identified by the OD following their name.

Optician
These eye care professionals are not licensed to perform eye exams, medical tests or treat patients. Their purpose is to take the prescription from the ophthalmologist or optometrist and work with you to determine which glasses or contact lenses work best for you. If you suffer from an eye disease like keratoconus, these specialists can make the difference between a relatively normal life, or one that is dictated short periods of vision because of contact lens pain. These eye care professionals may hold and associate optician degree or have apprenticed fore required number of hours.

While each one of these eye specialists has their own area of expertise, they can form a team whose only concerns are your eye health and the ability to see as clearly as possible.

8/11/15

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

Eye Issues For Every Age Recap

Vision is something we take for granted, but when we start to have trouble seeing it is easy to panic. This blog has covered a variety of eye issues for every age, from children through older adults. Here are a few articles from leading doctors and specialists that you may have missed and might be of interest.
Artistic eye 6
Bill Takeshita, OD, FAAO – Visual Aids and Techniques When Traveling

Michelle Moore, CHHC – The Best Nutrition for Older Adults

Arthur B. Epstein, OD, FAAO – Understanding and Treating Corneal Scratches and Abrasions

The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) – Low Vision Awareness
Maintaining Healthy Vision

Sandra Young, OD – GMO and the Nutritional Content of Food

S. Barry Eiden, OD, FAAO – Selecting Your Best Vision Correction Options

Suber S. Huang, MD, MBA – It’s All About ME – What to Know About Macular Edema

Jun Lin, MD, PhD and James Tsai, MD, MBA – The Optic Nerve And Its Visual Link To The Brain

Ronald N. Gaster, MD FACS – Do You Have a Pterygium?

Anthony B. Nesburn, MD, FACS – Three Generations of Saving Vision

Chantal Boisvert, OD, MD – Vision and Special Needs Children

Judith Delgado – Driving and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

David L. Kading OD, FAAO and Charissa Young – Itchy Eyes? It Must Be Allergy Season

Lauren Hauptman – Traveling With Low Or No Vision  /  Must Love Dogs, Traveling with Guide Dogs  /  Coping With Retinitis Pigmentosa

Kate Steit – Living Well With Low Vision Online Courses

Bezalel Schendowich, OD – What Are Scleral Contact Lenses?

In addition here are few other topics you might find of interest, including some infographics and delicious recipes.

Pupils Respond to More Than Light

Watery, Red, Itchy Eyes

10 Tips for Healthy Eyes (infographic)

The Need For Medical Research Funding

Protective Eyewear for Home, Garden & Sports

7 Spring Fruits and Vegetables (with some great recipes)

6 Ways Women Can Stop Vision Loss

6 Signs of Eye Disease (infographic)

Do I Need Vision Insurance?

How to Help a Blind or Visually Impaired Person with Mobility

Your Comprehensive Eye Exam (infographic)

Famous People with Vision Loss – Part I

Famous People with Vision Loss – Part II

Development of Eyeglasses Timeline (infographic)

What eye topics do you want to learn about? Please let us know in the comments section below.

7/21/15


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

Vision Recap Of Previous Articles of Interest

Besides the comments that we get, one of the best parts of putting together this blog is the wonderful group of guests who share their expertise and personal stories. I want to thank all of the eye care professionals and friends that have contributed to make this blog a success.
Vision Recap
Here is a quick vision recap of some of the articles we had in the past that you may have missed.

Jullia A. Rosdahl, MD, PhDCoffee and Glaucoma and Taking Control of Glaucoma

David Liao, MD, PhDWhat Are A Macular Pucker and Macular Hole?

Kooshay MalekBeing A Blind Artist

Dan Roberts15 Things Doctors Might Like Us To Know

Jennifer VilleneuveLiving With KC Isn’t Easy

Daniel D. Esmaili, MDPosterior Vitreous Detachment

Donna ColeLiving With Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Pouya N. Dayani, MDDiabetes And The Potential For Diabetic Retinopathy

Robin Heinz BratslavskyAdjustments Can Help With Depression

Judith DelgadoDrugs to Treat Dry AMD and Inflammation

Kate StreitHadley’s Online Education for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Catherine Warren, RNCan Keratoconus Progression Be Predicted?

Richard H. Roe, MD, MHSUveitis Explained

Sumit (Sam) Garg, MDCataract Surgery and Keratoconus

Howard J. Kaplan, MDSpotlight Text – A New Way to Read

Gerry TrickleImagination and KC

In addition to the topics above, here are few more articles that cover a variety of vision issues:

If you have any topics that you would like to read about, please let us know in the comments section below.

6/23/15


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

Coping With Retinitis Pigmentosa

Tribulations, Travels and Tennis Balls

Linda Becker stopped playing tennis at night because she couldn’t see the balls coming at her. “Coincidentally, I saw something about night blindness on TV, so I went to my optometrist,” Becker says. He confirmed she had night blindness and sent her for more testing. An ophthalmologist told her: “I’m sorry, but you have retinis pigmentosa, and you’ll be blind some day.”
Linda Becker - coping with retinitis pigmentosa
“As a young mother, I couldn’t wrap my head around that,” Becker says. So she entered a decade of denial until she started to sideswipe other cars while driving. “I drove into my development one day, and there was a thump over the hood of my car. I thought, ‘Oh my god, what did I do? Did I kill somebody?’ I pulled over, and a police officer who happened to be driving behind me came over to my window. I was devastated. I said, ‘What have I done?’ He told me a jogger who wasn’t paying attention had tripped over the hood of my car. But I knew if I could have seen better, I would have stopped. That was the day I put my car keys down.”

Coping with Retinitis Pigmentosa

Encouraged by her kids to get a guide dog, Becker called Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB). She learned she needed orientation and mobility (O&M) skills, including knowing how to walk with a white cane, before she could be considered for a dog.

“I called the Braille Institute, and it was daunting, to say the least: Thinking about walking with a white cane, having people know I’m blind and feeling disabled. Going through that whole transition — I didn’t want to even face it,” she recalls. “But I went, and I took classes, until I knew it was time for me to have a guide dog. I’ve always been a dog person, and I’d rather use my dog as a mobility tool than a cane. Plus, I wanted the companionship.”

She successfully completed the GDB requirement of walking one mile to and from her home with the cane. She then completed two weeks of on-site training at GDB’s campus in Oregon, where she was paired with Lyla, a yellow English Lab.

Becker started teaching classes at the Braille Institute and helping others navigate their vision-loss transition. She teaches a 14-week sensory-awareness class. “It helps develop and educate your other senses when you start losing your sight,” she says. “It humbles me. I have no sight now. My transition of going to the Braille Institute, learning to use a white cane, then learning to have a guide dog, taught me a whole lot about myself and feeling very independent. I was able to speak about guide dogs and speak about blindness — and be a teacher.”

She became an outreach ambassador for the Braille Institute, facilitating low-vision support groups throughout Orange County, Calif. She also went to work for GDB as an alumni-outreach representative, putting together workshops and helping people learn about the “guide-dog lifestyle.”

Now 66 years old, Becker finds the most enjoyment in traveling. “Being with a guide dog and in the blindness community took me places,” she says. “I was asked to be a keynote speaker here or an ambassador there. I’d never done that type of thing before, and I’d never traveled much. I just kept hopping on airplanes with my guide dog and going to hotels and trying to figure things out. I ask questions and collect tips, so I can share with others how easy it can be to travel with or without usable sight. It is really exciting, and I’m really driven to go different places.”

Since Lyla’s retirement, Becker travels regularly with her guide dog, Anchorage, a yellow lab. “He gives me courage,” she says. The pair is currently planning a trip to Australia and New Zealand. Becker is no longer daunted by learning new skills, exploring new places or even flying tennis balls — Anchorage is quite happy to deal with those when he is off-duty.

For more on traveling with guide dogs, including Becker’s adventures with Lyla and Anchorage, read “Traveling Tails”.

5/26/15


LH1_RESCANLauren Hauptman
Lauren Hauptman INK