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.

It’s October and the Royals are still playing baseball!  I think a lot of us are happy about that!  How old were you when the Royals were playing in their last Post Season game (1985)?  I was 1 year old 🙂

Well, I thought since many of us are excited about baseball and football (Go Chiefs!) I’d share some fun facts on sports and important information on eye injuries.

 

Sports/Eye Related Injury Facts

 

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.

Dealing with change

Categorized: Blind and Low Vision

Who really enjoys change?  Maybe you enjoy a change of scenery or you enjoy the change of seasons?  These are nice changes because you know they aren’t permanent and they are planned.

Unplanned changes usually aren’t enjoyable and are usually permanent (at least until the next change).  But change always happens!  There is nothing we can do to stop change but there are things we can do so change can be more enjoyable.

Once a change is made around you or you know you must make a change the best thing you can do is get ready for it and adapt to it as fast as possible.  This seems so hard at first, but really it will help you in the end be able to enjoy the new.

We have choices in everything that we do.  The same goes with change.  We can choose to react negatively towards change.  We can choose to ignore change.  We can choose to embrace change.

If you have ever went through a change at work you may know that ignoring the change will actually result in you changing employment!  Reacting negatively to change could also cause hardship in the workplace.

If you have noticed a change in your vision and you choose to ignore it, it could become worse.  If you react quickly to the change and visit your eye doctor it is possible that the change could be treated.

Sometimes a change may take a grieving period.  We have things and people in our lives that we enjoy (if we didn’t enjoy them, we’d make a change so they weren’t there).  So, when a change causes a person or thing to leave our life it can be hard and cause us to grieve.  That’s understandable and okay.  But the sooner you let go of the past the sooner you can enjoy the future.

The best thing to do when dealing with a difficult change, is talk to someone who has went through the change their self.  This could include a co-worker, support group or peer.  And think of the 10-10-10 rule… Will this change be hard in 10 days?  Will this change be hard in 10 months?  Will this change be hard in 10 years?  Focus on your future and the change will become the past.

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.

Digital Eye Strain

Categorized: Blind and Low Vision

We all know that sitting at your desk staring at your computer screen all day isn’t healthy for your body. But have you thought about what it does to your eyes? Digital eye strain is eye and visual related problems after prolonged computer use. This condition doesn’t just occur because of computer use; it can actually occur with any digital device including video games and handheld devices.

The symptoms of digital eye strain include headaches, dry eyes, back and neck pain, tired and/or sore eyes, fatigue, blurred vision and sometimes double vision. If you spend two hours or more using a computer or digital device, you are likely to develop one or more of these symptoms. To avoid digital eye strain you can try the following tips:

Blink often – Blinking allows your eyes to refresh and not dry out.

Follow the 20/20/20 Rule – Every 20 minutes rest your eyes for 20 seconds and look 20 feet away. This gives your eyes a break and allows them to focus at a further distance.

Ensure Proper Lighting – This does not mean have your room/office as bright as you can get it. Instead, try dimming the lights because this will cause less glare on your computer screen.

Adjust Your Work Area – Rearranging your work area to allow better posture could eliminate the symptoms especially neck and back pain. You could also adjust your computer screen, font size and screen contrast to reduce eye strain.

Wear Your Glasses – If you have eye glasses, make sure you wear them. You need to have annual eye doctor visits and have the doctor adjust your glasses to view a computer screen. There is also digital eyeware you can use to reduce eye strain.

If you have any of these symptoms make sure to notify your eye doctor. If you are not having any problems, still make sure your doctor knows how often you use digital devices.