Low Vision

Low vision is the term used to describe significant visual impairment that can’t be corrected fully with glasses, contact lenses, medication or eye surgery.  Low vision causes a person to be unable to accomplish some daily tasks due to sight impairments. Low vision occurs when an individual struggles with any of the following common activities:

  • Reading
  • Everyday tasks like personal grooming
  • Viewing photos
  • Recognizing faces

Millions of Americans experience a normal loss of vision as they get older and the number of individuals who develop vision problems due to health conditions is projected to continue to rise.

There are many things that can cause low vision, including:

A few simple approaches can be:

  • Getting an eye exam
  • Update your reading glasses
  • Use bright light for reading

If these do not work for you, ask your eye care professional for help or ask for a referral to a low vision specialist.

Low Vision Technology 

Individuals with eye disease related to age, or vision compromised due to injury, may benefit from the usage of low vision devices.

There are two primary categories for low vision devices: Magnifiers for viewing things and objects that are close to you (magnifying lenses or machines), and magnifiers used for viewing objects and images at a distance (telescopic lenses). Many lighted magnifiers for close objects improve readability by increasing illumination.  With the advances in technology, many low vision devices are available to provide multiple function (near and distance) magnification and visual aid.

Technology is advancing to meet the growing needs of people with low vision impairment. There are a number of products that can help individuals with low vision. While considering the correct vision enhancer, keep in mind a few objectives:

  • What is the visual ability of the individual? Low vision aids are created with different options for specific low vision needs.
  • What tasks will the visual enhancer be used for? Find out what each product is best used for to decide if it will meet the needs of the individual.
  • Is the device easy to use? The right device should be easy for you to use.
  • How much does it cost? The cost of low vision aids can vary depending on a number of factors.

Popular products include:

Portable magnifiers and lighted magnifiers- offer magnified reading on the go. Perfect for menus, shopping lists, label reading, and more, portable magnifiers can fit in your pocket, purse, or be worn on the belt for quick, easy use.


Wearable magnifiers – wearable technology is the future for those with low vision who live an active lifestyle.  Wearable options make it possible to see and take part in everyday tasks, such as reading and recognizing faces.


Transportable magnification screens are perfect for close up viewing as well as distance viewing. These great viewers offer great flexibility, from watching TV to using the mirror image feature for self-viewing. There are APPS for smart phones that can be used to magnify reading material.


Desktop devices for reading books, bills or letters – these have large, bright screens. A reading table offers visual aid for reading books, optional computer connectivity and more. This family of portable magnification units offers up to 75x magnification.



Consult a Low Vision Specialist–Consider making an appointment with a trained low vision specialist if you have specialized needs. They are available in larger cities or can be found by contacting The Braille Institute or by an internet search. Talk with your low vision specialist to find out which is right for you and where you can find them.

In addition to low vision devices and good lighting, inexpensive non-optical adaptive aids can assist with routine daily activities. These devices include:

  • Large-print cookbooks
  • Large-numbered playing cards, clocks, telephones and watches
  • Electronic “talking” clocks, kitchen timers, thermometers, blood pressure meters and even pill bottles
  • Large felt-tip pens and wide-lined paper for writing notes
  • Color-coded pill boxes
  • Signature guides help in writing your signature in the correct place

Many of these items can be found at your local drugstore, discount store or bookstore. Your low vision specialist can recommend retail sources for non-optical adaptive aids.

Vision loss can definitely be alarming but learning how to adapt, with the aid of low-vision specialists, can result in continued independence.  As low vision aids are tools focused on helping with the physical aspect, it is also important to seek the help of a counselor for psychological counseling if needed or join a support group, that may provide the help you need. Finally, maintaining a social network and asking for help will enrich your life, and help maintain your independence and quality of life.







Glaucoma – Are You At Risk?

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month and the perfect time to raise awareness for this disease. Early on there are no symptoms.  In fact, half of the people with glaucoma don’t even know they have it. Learn about glaucoma and the steps you can take to reduce your risk of vision loss.

There are several types of glaucoma, although the most common type of glaucoma is Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma, it begins at the peripheral working inward to weaken the central vision, this could lead to tunnel vision. It can cause irreversible and gradual damage of the optic nerve and vision.

You can prevent glaucoma with regular eye exams (with a visual field test) by an eye care professional and also by looking out for these subtle warning signs:

  1. Eye Pain
  2. Night Halos
  3. Tunnel Vision
  4. Blurred Vision
  5. Eye Swelling and Redness
  6. Nausea
  7. Sudden Visual Disturbance
  8. Severe Headache

Are you at risk?

Anyone can get glaucoma, but certain groups are at higher risk. These groups include African Americans over the age of 40, all people over the age of 60, and since it is hereditary, people with a family history of glaucoma, and people who have diabetes.

There are many steps you can take to help protect your eyes and lower your risk of vision loss from glaucoma. 

  1. If you are in a high-risk group, get a comprehensive dilated eye exam to catch glaucoma early and start treatment. Prescription eye drops can stop glaucoma from progressing.
  2. Even if you are not in a high-risk group, getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam by the age of 40 can help catch glaucoma and other eye diseases early.
  3. Open-angle glaucoma does not have symptoms and is hereditary, so talk to your family members about their vision health to help protect your eyes and theirs.
  4. Maintaining a healthy weight, controlling your blood pressure, being physically active and avoiding smoking will help you avoid vision loss from glaucoma.

Stay aware of the risks and symptoms and remember an annual comprehensive eye exam is key for early detection of glaucoma and other eye diseases.

Click here to learn more about Glaucoma.

My Best Gift!

The other day my daughter Blythe asked me which Christmas I consider to be my favorite.  I had to think a minute, because as a family, the Sullivan’s have had some great ones.  I was about to say the first time you and your brother Tom were old enough to really get into Santa, being absolutely sure that the fat man brought your presents right down the chimney.  I was about to say that, and then I remembered. 

The greatest Christmas I ever enjoyed was a ski trip in Winter Park, Colorado, when our children were teenagers and our friend, the marvelous Betty White, joined us for a Christmas Eve sleigh ride none of us will ever forget.  The night was perfect.  It had snowed earlier that day, and the air had a feeling of Christmas that you could almost taste.  Oh, sure, it was cold, but we were bundled up under tons of blankets as two beautiful Clydesdale horses with bells jingling took us through the woods to a magical barn where dinner would be served and carols sung. 

It was on the way home that my Christmas was made complete.  We had stopped to let the horses breathe, and everyone was quiet, just allowing the feeling of togetherness envelope us in that special night.  It was Betty who broke the silence. 

“Tom,” she said almost to herself, “I wish I may, I wish I might, let you see the stars tonight.  I feel like we could almost reach up and touch them.  That’s how bright and close they are.  I guess when you’re this high in the Rocky Mountains, it just feels like they’re right here.”

I could hear how much my friend wanted me to see such a heavenly display, but we both knew that could never happen.  I have no complaint about being blind, no one could have a better life, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit at this holiday season that I’d love to be able to take it all in, all the special sights of Christmas. 

Every day in laboratories around this country, researchers are working to solve the multiple eye diseases that make it impossible for millions of people to see the joys of Christmas.  At this holiday season, my best gift would be that all of us donate to the Discovery Eye Foundation with its goal to preserve vision and eradicate blindness around the world.  During this season of giving, may your hearts be light and your sight be bright. 

Merry Christmas!

Tom Sullivan
DEF’s Ambassador of Vision


I Can Only Imagine

I can only imagine my wife’s beautiful face.  Oh sure, I’ve touched it and kissed it many times.  I’ve felt the lines with the tips of my fingers, tracing our lives together, and I’ve heard her smile.  I understand that’s not really seeing it.  It’s not seeing her eyes as they sparkle with something funny I said; or, when she looks at me with love reserved only for those who are truly in love.

She’s often tried to explain the flash and colors of a sunset and the cotton softness of clouds as they drift across the sky.  And, what about a rainbow made up of all the colors that somehow promise all of us that things in the world will get better. 

How amazing it would be to see my daughter Blythe skiing her favorite Colorado Mountain trail or my son Tom riding a California wave, both so secure and happy enjoying the sports they love. 

There is so much more I wish I could see, but it’s not going to happen because I am blind.  I am left with only imagining what it’s like to have the gift of sight.

I can only empathize with how a person feels when their vision is threatened by glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, and the most devastating of all, macular degeneration.

At the Discovery Eye Foundation (DEF) our researchers are working every day to overcome the loss of vision and preserve your ability to treasure all the beauty that surrounds you.  I’ve heard it said that the eyes are the windows to the soul.  I don’t know if that’s true, but I am sure that they are the single most important sense in the group of five, and that saving vision is a cause that must be supported.

DEF is committed to that mission, and with your help, answers to all forms of eye disease will be discovered.  It’s up to all of us to support the research that’s bringing us ever closer to those solutions.

If you want to help, please click the button below or download donation form to donate by mail, click here: DEF donation form




Tom Sullivan
DEF’s Ambassador of Vision

September is Healthy Aging Month


Today, people are living longer than ever before so it’s important to be proactive and take responsibility for your health as you age.  

Like any other organ in your body, your eyes do not stay the same as you get older. Vision changes are normal with age but vision loss and blindness are not.  Older adults are at higher risk for certain eye diseases and conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, dry eye, and low vision.  To continue to enjoy healthy vision as you advance in years, it’s important to have a comprehensive dilated eye examination with an ophthalmologist or optometrist on a regular basis.

Here are some other tips to maintain healthy vision now and as you age:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables can help keep your eyes healthy. Visit our website for healthy eye recipes, click here Eye Cook.



  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk for diabetes. By exercising regularly, you can help keep your body healthy and prevent vision loss. 




  • Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk for age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and other eye diseases and conditions that can damage the optic nerve.




  • Wear protective eyewear when outdoors. Protecting your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays when you are outdoors is vital for your eye health.  Wearing sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.



  • Know your family history.  Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition since many are hereditary, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetes . This will help determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition.


  • Consider a multivitamin. Vitamins C, E and the mineral zinc have been shown to promote eye health.  Vitamins with Lutein and Zeaxanthin have been known to help patients with moderate to severe age-related macular degeneration.


  • Give your eyes a rest.  If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing at any one distance, you sometimes forget to blink, resulting in dryness and eye fatigue.  Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This can help reduce eyestrain. Consider using a lubricant eye drop during long periods of intense eye use and rest your eyes for 5 minutes.


You can’t stop time, but you can take care of your eyes so that they remain healthy as you age. Having a healthy vision can be possible at any age! 

A New Commitment to Vision

Meet Tom Sullivan – DEF’s Ambassador of Vision

Over the last 40 years, I’ve been committed to working on behalf of blind children and their families.  My involvement has spanned the entire gamut of participation – from direct involvement in the classroom and counseling parents to hosting organized 10K races and celebrity golf tournaments that carried my name.  In that time, my wife and I raised just over $8 million thanks to the generosity of so many people.  Though my commitment to this cause has not changed, I’ve chosen to take on a new challenge that has in every way re-energized my passion. 

I’ve recently become the Ambassador of Vision for the Discovery Eye Foundation (DEF), a remarkable organization that funds cutting edge research that I believe someday will eliminate many forms of blindness.  The principle reason for my enthusiastic commitment is largely due to the fact that DEF directly funds researchers and avoids institutional restrictions.

As of this blog, DEF is engaged in ongoing efforts to understand 5 main eye diseases – Retinitis Pigmentosa, Macular Degeneration, Keratoconus, Diabetic Retinopathy, and Glaucoma.  I can honestly tell you that breakthroughs are not only on the horizon, but in many cases they are imminent.  Over the weeks and months I’ll be telling you much more, specifically about our individual research projects.  

Any help you may choose to give on behalf of people struggling with vision loss will be deeply appreciated. I look forward to having many of you join my fight for sight. Your help can make a difference! Click here to donate.


Tom Sullivan
DEF’s Ambassador of Vision



National Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month –                                    An important time to raise awareness for this sight-robbing disease.

Glaucoma is an age-related disease and is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness in people over 40. Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians. If you have a close blood relative with glaucoma, it raises your risk of getting it.

Glaucoma is the sneak thief of sight, since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it’s permanent. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing. 

More than 3 million people in the United States and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don’t raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision.

How to Help Raise Awareness

In the United States, approximately 120,000 are blind from glaucoma. Here are three ways you can help raise awareness:

talk to your family about glaucoma awareness
Talk to your friends and family
  • Talk to friends and family about glaucoma. Do not keep it a secret. Let your family members know.
  • Get involved in your community, educational seminars, support groups, and more.


What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that causes damage to the major nerve of the eye called the opdevelopment of glaucomatic nerve, a part of the central nervous system that carries visual information from the eye to the brain.

The eye experiences a gradual increase of intraocular pressure (IOP) due to an imbalance of the fluid produced in the eye and the amount of fluid drained. Over time, elevated IOP can cause vision loss. The most common form of glaucoma is primary open angle glaucoma which affects about 3 million Americans. However, there are other types including narrow angle, congenital, normal tension, and secondary glaucoma.

There is no cure for glaucoma—yet. However, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma among other factors. Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease.


Risk Factors

How do you know if you are at risk for glaucoma? Those at higher risk include people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent. Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted.

Regular eye exams are especially important for those at higher risk for glaucoma, and may help to prevent unnecessary vision loss. In the most common form, there are virtually no symptoms. Vision loss begins with peripheral or side vision, so if you have glaucoma, you may not notice anything until significant vision is lost.


Getting your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist regularly will be the best way to detect glaucoma or any other eye disease early.


Your Vision is Your Wealth

We see more than 24 million images in our average life span. The huge task in a human body is seeing, which requires half of one’s brain to function. Our eye lenses are equal to 576 megapixels Camera lens.

One man out of every twelve men is color blind and the chances of losing eye function increase with age. In the UK 74% of people correct their eyesight by Laser Surgery, Wearing Contact lens and glasses to have a better view. Our eyes take only 48 hrs to repair from a corneal scratch. In order to avoid these problems, restrict the continuous usage of contact lens less than 19 hours in a day.

For a better understanding, read this infographic from Paul Gill Optician.


Source and Author:
Amy Lynn
Paul Gill Optician

7 Tips for Living With Glaucoma

living with glaucoma
Did you know January is Glaucoma Awareness Month?  Although no cure exists, the eye disease may be treated with medication and surgery.  If left undiagnosed and untreated, however, glaucoma can cause permanent damage to vision.  According to the National Eye Institute, glaucoma affects more than three million people in the United States. The population that is at highest risk is adults over the age of 60. Glaucoma affects vision by damaging the optic nerve and typical vision loss occurs in the peripheral visual field. This type of loss can create difficulty performing everyday tasks. To mark the importance of Glaucoma Awareness Month, Low Vision Focus @ Hadley offers these tips to improve independence and safety for people with glaucoma-related vision impairments.

Tips for Living With Glaucoma

  1. Loss of peripheral vision makes it difficult to see steps and stairways.  Marking treads and handrails with contrasting colored paint or tape can improve navigation and reduce the risk of falling.
  2. Persons with glaucoma often experience difficulty adjusting to darkness or darkened rooms. Increase illumination in dark closets or hallways by installing additional lighting fixtures. When outdoors at night, carry a strong flashlight.
  3. Area rugs can pose a hazard for persons with visual field loss.  It’s best to keep home pathways and work areas free of extra floor coverings.
  4. In all locations where you might be a frequent visitor, ask someone to give you a tour.  It goes without saying you need to know where the bathroom is located, as well as how to exit the building from a variety of locations.
  5. Some persons with glaucoma prefer to use a human guide when traveling in unfamiliar places.  To use a human guide effectively, grasp the guide’s arm firmly just above the elbow and walk a half a step behind. This positioning gives the most protection from potential obstacles and allows both people to function as a team.
  6. Get in the habit of consistently closing kitchen and bathroom cabinets, especially those above countertops.  Make sure doors are either all the way open or shut.  Practicing both of these safety techniques can greatly reduce the risk of head injury.
  7. Before reaching down to pick up dropped objects, place your hand, palm out, about 12 inches in front your face.  This way, you’ll make sure you don’t hit the edges of tables or countertops with your forehead.

Remember, although glaucoma cannot be cured, it can be treated.  Regular eye exams, especially for adults over 60, are critical to control the spread of the disease.  For those who are affected by vision loss, it’s important to remember that the acquisition of some simple adaptive skills and techniques can help maintain safety and independence.  Low Vision Focus@Hadley is dedicated to assisting persons with low vision to live life to the fullest all year long. For more information on how Low Vision Focus@Hadley can help you or someone you know, please visit our website www.lowvisionfocus.org, or call (855) 830-5355 to find out about our free programs and materials.


Ed Haines - living with glaucomaEd Haines
The Hadley School for the Blind
Low Vision Focus @ Hadley

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