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Living with Low Vision

The Sneak Thief of Sight

Women and Diabetes – World Diabetes Day

Aging Eyes and Driving Safety

October 2016 – Are you at an increased risk for macular degeneration?

FB0112301 IMG09A patient called in to an IALVS doctor’s office concerned their mother lost vision from Macular Degeneration before she died and now that the patient was age 65, she was concerned she may get it.

There is an increased risk if a parent or sibling has the disease by three to four times. But the good news is there are things you can do to protect your eyesight, and a number of treatments that are available if you do happen to get it. Here’s what you should know.

What is AMD?

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 50, affecting about 10 million Americans.

AMD is a progressive eye disease that damages the macula, the part of the eye that allows us to see objects clearly, causing vision loss in the center of your vision. This affects the ability to read, drive, watch television and do routine daily tasks, but it does not cause total blindness.

There are two types of AMD — wet and dry.

Dry AMD, which affects about 90 percent of all people that have it, progresses slowly and painlessly over a period of years. Wet AMD is much more aggressive and can cause severe vision loss in a matter of weeks or months.

Factors that can increase your risk of getting AMD include age (60 and older); smoking; excessive exposure to sunlight especially if you have light-colored eyes; certain genetic components; a family history of AMD; high blood pressure; obesity; and being Caucasian.

For anyone over the age of 60, it’s a smart idea to get your eyes examined by an every year – especially if you are at a higher risk, or are showing symptoms of vision loss. Early signs may include shadowy areas in your central vision or unusually fuzzy or distorted vision. If you are experiencing any early signs, it is a good idea to have a specific low vision exam performed by an IALVS trained optometrist.

Preventing AMD

While there’s currently no cure for AMD, there are some things you can do if you’re high risk.

One option is to talk to your IALVS doctor about taking a daily dose of low vision vitamins and minerals known as AREDS — vitamins C and E, plus copper, lutein, zeaxanthin and zinc. Studies by the National Eye Institute have shown that AREDS can reduce the risk by about 25 percent that dry AMD will progress.

Other lifestyle adjustments that may help prevent or delay AMD include eating antioxidant-rich foods such as dark green, leafy vegetables, and cold-water fish for their omega-3 fatty acids; protecting your eyes from the sun by wearing UV protective sunglasses; controlling high blood pressure; exercising regularly; and if you smoke, quit.

July 2016 – Helping with Vision Loss

DSC 3892 1631People who have vision loss commonly experience depression, anxiety, and confusion. The consequences of vision loss however, often extend beyond the person who has low vision. The family members, friends, and caregivers of people experiencing vision loss also are affected.

When a loved one becomes visually impaired, you are likely to feel overwhelmed. You also may experience a range of feelings, from sadness to guilt, and there are many day-to-day adjustments to make. You may find yourself putting aside your feelings and needs to focus on helping your loved one cope. Yet, in many cases, you may feel alone and at a loss about what to do or how to help.

You and your loved one are not alone. You may have been told “nothing more can be done,” but that simply is not true. Something can always be done.

Many people with low vision already have an eye doctor who is treating them for an eye disease such as macular degeneration, glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa or other genetic diseases. However, if your eye doctor doesn’t specialize in low vision, he or she may have only a limited knowledge of the many choices that exist in low vision aids and treatment options.

The International Academy of Low Vision Specialists consists of intensively trained Low Vision Optometrists that have extensive experience in providing customized low vision devices and low vision prescription glasses enabling patients to achieve maximum functional vision and independence.

Take the first step to a Better Life with Low Vision and call an IALVS low vision optometrist today. 888 778 2030.

April 2016 – Lower Risk of Macular Degeneration

07927686You may want salmon, mackerel, herring or tuna on your menu at least once a week if you want to reduce your risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School followed up on 38,022 women during the 10 years after data had been collected on them for the Women’s Health Study.

After adjustments for factors including age, they found that women who consumed the most DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish) had a 38 percent lower risk of developing AMD than those who consumed the lowest amount of DHA. They found similar results for EPA, another omega-3 fatty acid, as well as for consumption of both acids together.

Low Vision Optometrists who are members of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists are trained to assist those with vision loss in a variety of ways including nutritional counseling. They agree with the study, having one or more servings of fish per week produced a 42 percent lower risk of AMD, compared with less than one serving per month. Canned tuna and dark-meat fish were the primary types of fish that produced this lower risk.

The omega-6 fatty acids linoleic acid and arachidonic acid were also evaluated. Higher intake of linoleic acid, found in many fruit and vegetable oils such as safflower oil, grapeseed oil and corn oil, was associated with a higher risk of AMD, but not significantly so.

If you are unsure what to take, how much to take or how ofter, consult contact the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists today to find a Low Vision Optometrist in your area and schedule a phone consultation.

February 2016 – Peripheral Vision Loss (Tunnel Vision)

tunnel visionPeripheral vision problems mean that you don’t have a normal, wide-angle field of vision, even though your central vision may be fine. Moderate and severe cases of peripheral vision loss create the sensation of seeing through a narrow tube, a condition commonly referred to as “tunnel vision.” Symptoms of peripheral vision loss also can include difficulty seeing in dim light and decreased ability to navigate while you are walking

What Causes Peripheral Vision Loss?

A common cause of loss of peripheral vision (also called a peripheral field defect) is optic nerve damage from glaucoma. Eye “strokes” (occlusions) that block normal blood flow to the eye’s internal structures, including the optic nerve, also can lead to loss of peripheral vision. A stroke or injury also may damage portions of the brain where images are processed, leading to blind spots in the visual field.

Basic causes of peripheral vision loss include:

  • Glaucoma
  • Retinitis pigmentosa
  • Eye strokes or occlusions
  • Detached retina
  • Brain damage from stroke, disease or injury
  • Neurological damage such as from optic neuritis
  • Compressed optic nerve head (papilledema)
  • Concussions (head injuries)

If you suspect you have lost peripheral vision, Schedule an appointment with an International Academy Of Low Vision Specialists Optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam that includes visual field testing. Side Vision Awareness glasses may the solution. Side Vision Awareness Glasses™ (SVAG) were developed by Dr. Errol Rummel of Jackson, NJ, after years of treating people with stroke-related,or brain injury related hemianopsia (side vision loss). Dr. Rummel is Director of the Low Vision Care Center, Jackson, NJ, is the Director of the Neuro-optometric Rehabilitation Clinic at the Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation, Pomona, NJ. And is a Fellow of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists.

January 2016 – Exercise for People Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

stretchPeople with low vision can be active in many ways! Before you start an exercise routine, however, talk with your medical doctor and your eye doctor, since bending, lifting, or rapid movement can affect some medical and eye conditions.

Sometimes the rules are modified, sometimes adaptive techniques are used, and other times adaptive equipment may be required. It is important to continue to exercise.

If you have lost vision from:

  • Macular Degeneration
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa
  • Stargt’s Disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Stroke
  • Albanism

And want to remain active, consult an International Academy of Low Vision Specialists Optometrist today for a comprehensive low vision exam to determine the best and safest ways to remain active with low vision.