As I get ready to get in the car for today’s appointments, I thought I would take this rainy morning to remind everyone of iKan-RCIL.  iKan-RCIL is a program for those who are 55 years and older and have a vision loss caused by such conditions as Glaucoma, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, and many more.  This program is often referred to as the “older blind program”.   The person does not have to be totally or “legally” blind but the condition causing the vision loss must affect their daily living to qualify for services.  The iKan-RCIL program covers 32 counties which are listed below and if you are interested in a county not listed email Amanda Smith and I’ll get you the contact information. iKan-RCIL coverage includes: Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Brown, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Clay, Coffey, Crawford, Dickinson, Doniphan, Elk, Geary, Greenwood, Jackson, Labette, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Montgomery, Morris, Nemaha, Neosho, Osage, Pottawatomie, Riley, Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Washington, Wilson, and Woodson counties.

I visit individuals at their home and teach them skills or give them technology to live as independently as possible with their vision loss.  To qualify for this service you must live in one of the mentioned counties, be 55 years or older and have a vision loss. There is no cost to participate in this program and if you or someone you know is interested they can email Amanda Smith or call at (785) 528-3105.

February is Low Vision Awareness month so I’d like to share some knowledge on this topic.

1.) Low vision is a vision loss that makes it difficult to accomplish visual tasks even with the best possible correction, but with the potential for use of available vision, with or without optical or non-optical compensatory visual strategies, devices and environmental modifications.
In other words, even with glasses, contacts, surgery, etc. the person does not have enough vision to do daily tasks. But with use of some tools/skills the person may be able to complete these tasks.

2.) People with low vision may label themselves as blind, legally blind, visually impaired, partially sighted or many other terms.
In order to be deemed legally blind by a doctor, the person’s vision when best corrected (wearing glasses, contacts, after surgery, using medication, etc.) is 20/200 or less or has a visual field of 20 degrees or less. 20/200 means that a person with 20/20 vision can see at 200 feet, that person can see at 20 feet. A visual field of 20 degrees or less can be demonstrated by putting your hand out in front of your face in a fist and only the area blocked by the fist would be visible.
People who are blind can be spilt into two groups – light perception and no light perception. Our society stereotypes that people who are blind only see darkness. This is not true; many can see light, different shades of color, shadows and or shapes.

3.) Low vision devices include everything from computer software, handheld magnifiers, video magnifiers, scanners, binoculars, monocular and many other items.
Most the time, when people think of devices that help people complete daily tasks, they think of high priced electronic equipment. That is not always the case. A rubber band can aid a person in detecting which can of food they are needing out of the cabinet. A raised bump can identify which medication the person needs to take in the morning. A piece of cardboard cut correctly can help a person with low vision fill out a check to pay their bills.
Some tasks people do by using mostly their vision, people with low vision have to unlearn using their vision and rely on other senses in order to complete these tasks. One example would be to use your hearing for the beeps while on the elevator instead of watching the number move above the elevator door.

4.) The term low vision is very broad and encompasses many people with many different types of vision loss. The most common causes for low vision in the United States included age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Most of these diseases do not affect people until they are 45 years or older but that is not always true. There are forms of macular degeneration that affects children, infants can be born with cataracts, and if a person has been diagnosed with diabetes in their early years they can end up with Diabetic Retinopathy at an early age as well.

Please have your eyes checked annually especially if you are 45 years or older and make sure your eye doctor is checking your eyes for common diseases.

iKan-RCIL will be hosting a low vision fair in Fort Scott on April 2nd.  The fair will consist of Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Foulk speaking about eye health, diseases and conditions along with Audio Reader, Talking Books, Assistive Technology for Kansans (ATK), and iKan-RCIL speaking about their program and services.  Assistive technology equipment will be available for hands-on demonstrations.

The fair will be held at the Fort Scott Housing Authority/Scott View Apartments (315 Scott Ave. Fort Scott, KS 66701) from 1:00-3:00pm.  If you have questions please call Mandy Smith at (877) 719-1717.

iKan-RCIL is a program for individuals who are 55 years and older who are blind or have low vision.  iKan-RCIL is funded by Kansas Rehabiliation and Services and covers 23 counties in Kansas.

 

Low vision support group –  a group of people who have some type of vision loss that gather and talk about strategies, stories, equipment, etc.  A support group can be very beneficial especially if a person has a new vision loss or is having a hard time handling their new way of life.

iKan-RCIL will be hosting low vision support groups in Wamego and Council Grove every month.  For January, Wamego’s meeting will be held at the Wamego Senior Center on January 30th at 12:30pm.  This month’s meeting will be focused on recreational assistive technology.  Council Grove’s meeting has been canceled for January.

Council Grove Senior Center Wamego Senior Center
Canceled January 30 12:30pm
February 26 1:00pm February 27 12:30pm
March 26 1:00pm March 27 12:30pm
April 30 1:00pm April 24 12:30pm
May 28 1:00pm May 29 12:30pm
June 25 1:00pm June 26 12:30pm

The group of people who attend the meetings will have the say so on what topics are covered.  The meetings will happen on the last Wednesday of the month in Council Grove and the last Thursday of the month in Wamego.  If you have questions please call (785) 267-1717.

From AFB eNews

Are you or a family member having difficulty seeing? Or perhaps been diagnosed with an eye condition such as macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone: vision problems affect 25 million Americans, and that number is on the rise.

To support this growing community, AFB and Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation launched VisionAware.org, a free, easy-to-use informational website for adults with vision loss, their families, caregivers, healthcare providers, and social service professionals.

The new VisionAware combines two stand-alone resources from AFB and Partners for Sight (Senior Site and the former VisionAware, respectively) into a single, comprehensive website offering dynamic social networking and customized guidance for adults of all ages with rich content and practical tips on living with vision loss.

Visitors to the new VisionAware will find:

  • Free, practical tips and resources for adults with vision loss, their families, friends, caregivers, and related professionals
  • Information on eye diseases and disorders
  • Different ways to connect, including message boards and social media channels like Twitter and Facebook
  • Breaking news on the latest developments in vision loss treatment via the VisionAware blog
  • Directories of helpful services, products, and resources

The new VisionAware complements AFB’s family of websites, which are designed to expand possibilities so people with vision loss can achieve their full potential. For more information, visit VisionAware.org.

Last month I posted about January being Glaucoma Awareness month.  Well, February is Low Vision Awareness month so I’d like to share some knowledge on this topic.

1.)  Low vision is a vision loss that makes it difficult to accomplish visual tasks even with the best possible correction, but with the potential for use of available vision, with or without optical or non-optical compensatory visual strategies, devices and environmental modifications.

In other words, even with glasses, contacts, surgery, etc. the person does not have enough vision to do daily tasks.  But with use of some tools/skills the person may be able to complete these tasks.

2.)  People with low vision may label themselves as blind, legally blind, visually impaired, partially sighted or many other terms.

In order to be deemed legally blind by a doctor, the person’s vision when best corrected (wearing glasses, contacts, after surgery, using medication, etc.) is 20/200 or less or has a visual field of 20 degrees or less.  20/200 means that a person with 20/20 vision can see at 200 feet, that person can see at 20 feet.  A visual field of 20 degrees or less can be demonstrated by putting your hand out in front of your face in a fist and only the area blocked by the fist would be visible.

People who are blind can be spilt into two groups – light perception and no light perception.  Our society stereotypes that people who are blind only see darkness.  This is not true; many can see light, different shades of color, shadows and or shapes.

3.)  Low vision devices include everything from computer software, handheld magnifiers, video magnifiers, scanners, binoculars, monocular and many other items.

Most the time, when people think of devices that help people complete daily tasks, they think of high priced electronic equipment.  That is not always the case.  A rubber band can aid a person in detecting which can of food they are needing out of the cabinet.  A raised bump can identify which medication the person needs to take in the morning.  A piece of cardboard cut correctly can help a person with low vision fill out a check to pay bills.

Some tasks people do by using mostly their vision, people with low vision have to unlearn using their vision and rely on other senses in order to complete these tasks.  One example would be to use your hearing for the beeps while on the elevator instead of watching the number move above the elevator door to know which floor you are on.

4.)  The term low vision is very broad and encompasses many people with many different types of vision loss.  The most common causes for low vision in the United States included age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.  Most of these diseases do not affect people until they are 45 years or older but that is not always true.  There are forms of macular degeneration that affects children, infants can be born with cataracts or glaucoma, and if a person has been diagnosed with diabetes in their early years they can end up with diabetic retinopathy at an early age as well.

Please have your eyes checked annually especially if you are 45 years or older and make sure your eye doctor is checking your eyes for common diseases.

With January and the new year here, this is a perfect time to talk about glaucoma.  January is National Glaucoma Awareness month so now is the time to book your annual eye appointment.

Glaucoma is the name of a group of diseases that commonly increases internal eye pressure, damages the optic nerve and causes peripheral (side/field) vision loss.  Without treatment, glaucoma can cause total blindness and there is no cure for glaucoma so even with treatment vision loss will still occur.  Treatment usually involves a prescribed eye drop that lowers the internal eye pressure or that can regulate the fluid entering and exiting the eye.

There are various forms of glaucoma and most of which have no early detection signs or symptoms.  Usually people notice a peripheral vision loss as the first sign and by this time there is nothing the eye doctors can do to regain that vision loss.  The only way to have glaucoma diagnosed before a vision loss is to have regular eye checks with your optometrist.

Approximately 4 million people in the United States have glaucoma and only half are aware of it.  The people who are more at risk include African Americans, Hispanics, diabetics, people with other eye diseases and people who are over the age of 35.  (Though, there are also forms of glaucoma that can be present at birth.)

If you fall under the people who are more at risk or are noticing a peripheral vision loss, please make your New Year’s resolution to have an eye exam in 2012.

Do you have questions about low vision? Have you noticed you don’t see like you used to? Have you been diagnosed with low vision and want to see what’s out there to help?

Come to our low vision fair to hear Dr. David Nelson explain low vision and low vision exams, find out what assistive technology is available and learn what services are available in your own home.

The Low Vision Fair will be held on Wednesday September 21 from 1:00pm-5:00pm at the Resource Center for Independent Living office in Topeka. 519 SW 37th Topeka, Ks 66611.

If you have questions please contact Mandy Smith by phone at 785-528-3105.

The Low Vision Fair is brought to you by Dr. David Nelson, OD, Assistive Technology for Kansans, ikan, and RCIL.

“Doggone” Cataracts

Categorized: Blind and Low Vision

It’s been said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but can an old dog see new again?

A lady told me her service dog was going in for cataract surgery on Monday! “WOW” was about all I could say! I know that on humans, cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries, and through technology, it has a fairly quick recovery time. But on a dog?

First off, Cataracts is a disease that affects the lens in your eye. The lens is a clear object in the eye that is curved on both sides. The light goes through the lens, and the curve of the lens bends the light to hit the back of the retina, which then sends the light to the brain where we put images together. A cataract causes the lens to become opaque or cloudy which impairs or changes how the light goes through. A person (or dog) can have Cataracts in one eye or both.

The owner of the dog said her dog had several tests ran, which included one to see how well her tear ducts worked. This is done by placing test strips of paper on the eye balls (after they have been numbed). They also tested the dog to see if it was likely to get Glaucoma.

After hearing this story, I did what seemed natural…I Googled it! Cataracts in dogs can have multiple causes including heredity, diabetes, toxic reaction in the lens, trauma, age-related reasons and many more. As for humans, Cataracts are mostly age-related and are more common in women than men. Some risk factors for Cataracts include diabetes, smoking and alcohol abuse, prolonged exposure to sunlight and radiation, steroid use, obesity, and poor diet. Once a lens has Cataracts there is no way to “clean” or get rid of the color.

Surgery is an option for some dogs and most people. The surgery consists of making a small incision on the eye, removing the “dirty lens” and replacing it with an artificial one. Usually dogs will have both eyes done at once, especially if they are diabetic. After the surgery, the dog will need eye drops to make sure it heals properly as well as regular check-ups with the vet and eye surgeon. Cataract surgery does not guarantee the dog (or human) will have the same vision it had before the Cataracts. Most dogs (and people) have a major improvement, but scarring does occur during the surgery and could affect the dog’s vision as well.

Only an eye doctor can say whether the dog would benefit from the surgery. In deciding whether to perform the surgery, the eye doctor considers the overall health of the dog and the pros and cons. (If you are thinking about Cataract surgery for your dog, just a warning–it is very pricey!)

Make sure you are getting not only your eyes checked every year but also your Pup’s!