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.

Though January is almost over there is still time to learn about Glaucoma.

  • Currently over 3 million people in the United States have Glaucoma
  • It is estimated that half of those people don’t know they have it
  • There is no symptoms and once vision is lost it is permanent
  • Glaucoma is the leading cause of PREVENTABLE blindness
  • It is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans
  • There are multiple types of glaucoma most affect middle age but it can occur at any age
  • Best way to protect yourself is yearly eye exams

There are many resources available for more information.


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, 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

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.