PRISM – December 2011

In This Issue

SightConnection Store: Holiday Shopping

Check out our online adaptive aids store for creative and fun gift ideas!

The SightConnection store carries a variety of products to make you and your loved ones’ lives easier and to enhance your independence, despite living with vision loss. Give someone special a thoughtful gift and support a great cause in the process!

FREE SHIPPING on orders over $50 placed through December 23, 2011!

Wilson Digital Voice RecorderThe Wilson
Keep track of your phone numbers,
memos, shopping lists, and more with this
easy-to-use digital voice recorder!

See more gift ideas.

XL Digital Alarm ClockThe XL Digital Alarm Clock
Our biggest, boldest digital alarm
clock helps you to be able to see
what time it is, day or night!

See more clocks and watches.

2012 Large Print Calendar

2012 Wall Calendar
Plan some fun times on this jumbo
wall calendar! Giant bold black numbers
help you to see the date and keep track
of upcoming events.

Visit the store for more exciting products!

Happy Holidays and Healthy Eyes

(Reposted from PRISM December 2010)

We would like to wish you and yours a warm holiday season full of joy and healthy vision!

People rarely think about their eyes while biting into warm apple pie or a gingerbread cookie. As many look forward to enjoying holiday treats, we at SightConnection think it is important to highlight the connection between nutrition and your vision.

Eating a diet low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains keeps your body healthy by providing nutrients for you to function at full capacity. We all know that a healthy diet reduces your chance of developing chronic diseases, as well as keeping your eyes healthy!

A very common eye disease that destroys the sharp central vision needed for everyday tasks such as driving and reading is, Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in adults over the age of fifty, and currently, there is no cure. Because of this, and because of its devastating impact on individual’s lives, prevention is key. Research is ongoing, but initial results suggest that making simple dietary changes may slow and even prevent the development of AMD.

According to All About Vision, high consumption of saturated fats and sugars may increase your risk of eye disease. Healthy food choices for your vision include vitamins, minerals, healthy proteins, and omega-3 fatty acids. Large quantities of omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, walnuts, kiwi, and other foods. Many professionals recommend eating foods such as fatty cold water fish; salmon, tuna, herring, anchovies, and sardines at least twice a week.

In addition to fish, fruits and vegetables keep your body healthy and contribute to the health of your eyes. Research suggests that antioxidant vitamins, such as beta-carotene Vitamin A, C, and E, may protect the macula from damage. The Age Related Disease Study (AREDS), sponsored by the National Eye Institute found that supplementation with Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc reduced patients’ risk of progressing to advanced AMD by about 28%. Vegetables such as; collards, broccoli, kale, and spinach are high in nutritious vitamins – so don’t forget to eat your greens!

The Mayo Clinic states sugars and refined white flours commonly found in breads and cereal may increase your risk of AMD. Instead, choose whole-grain breads and cereals that have a lot of fiber, which will slow down the digestion and absorption of sugar and starches. Fiber also helps you feel full, which makes it easier to limit your calorie intake. Many experts advise half of your daily grains and cereals be 100 percent whole grains. Simple changes like substituting whole wheat pasta for white pasta and water for soda can make a great difference in your overall health. Also, including colorful fruits and veggies in your diet is a delicious option that will protect you from chronic disease and help manage your weight.

The National Eye Institute recommends visiting your eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to ensure vision wellness. The NEI also recommends talking with family members about their eye health history to help determine if you might be at risk for developing an eye disease or condition.

Your eyesight is a precious part of your health. So please keep in mind that too much of any vitamin or mineral may affect the body’s ability to absorb other important nutrients. Follow your doctor’s advice about dosage, and consult with him/her before making any changes in your diet. If you have any concerns about your vision, please consult your eye care physician.

From SightConnection to you — have a joyful and healthy holiday season!

Client Story: Fay Bates: A Profile in Encouragement

Fay Bates has one thing she would really like to tell those who are newly facing vision loss: “Life doesn’t have to be NOT fun anymore!”

Fay has been living with vision impairment for many years, since she developed diabetes and secondarily, diabetic retinopathy, a condition which causes damage to the small blood vessels that provide nourishment to the retina. She has also had to face the added burden of a glaucoma diagnosis. Through it all, she has managed to keep her enthusiasm and self-motivation going, always striving to adapt to her situation by maintaining a willingness to try new devices and technology designed for those with vision loss. But she admits, it wasn’t always easy, especially at first.

When Fay first began to experience vision loss, she was working in the insurance industry here in western Washington. She didn’t know where to go for help after her diagnosis to begin planning for her future needs, and apparently, her eye doctor at the time didn’t know about SightConnection either.
Fortunately, Fay’s employer was supportive and through their research to find adaptive aids that would enable her to remain on the job, they came across the services and products available at SightConnection. Fay was very grateful for this discovery, but wishes someone could have told her about us sooner. “If you know you are going to lose your sight, it is best if you can identify and locate resources sooner rather than later, so that you can prepare ahead of time and not feel so overwhelmed,” she told me.

Lucky to have had a supportive manager at work, she advises others facing vision loss to “talk it over early with your bosses to help your employer understand what you will need in order to remain a productive employee. There are resources out there to help employers pay for adaptive aids and technology that they might not know about.”

Over the years she became a proficient user of adaptive aids and assistive technology both at home and at work. After a visit to SightConnection’s low vision clinic, Fay was trained to use magnification tools such as hand held magnifiers and a closed circuit television (CCTV), which she used at work to read.

As a client with SightConnection, she received Orientation & Mobility training with a white cane to improve her independence and ability to travel. Orientation training was a very important component to her, she says, because it increased her sense of security in her own home, and in her backyard even. Fay loves to venture outside and enjoys the company of both indoor and outdoor pet cats. And practice, she reports, is the key to success with both orientation skills and especially, white cane use.

Over time as her vision worsened, Fay needed help learning new ways to do personal activities of daily living such as cooking and operating her washer and dryer. A Rehabilitative Specialist visited her home and marked her machines with bump dots and Velcro so that she could use her sense of touch to do the laundry, and work at the stove. After she was laid off from her job, these skills and her ability to be independent in her home really helped her cope with the sudden change. Her daughter shares her home, and together they’ve learned to work as a team to support each other and keep things rolling smoothly in the house.

Talking further with Fay about the challenges facing those with vision impairment and loss, she revealed some insightful observations that she’d like to pass along to others, especially family members who are also trying to adjust to the vision changes of their loved ones.

“When a loved one is diagnosed with vision loss, families must be sure to pursue all avenues to find resources for their loved one. Be relentless in asking the doctors, social workers, caregivers, about finding resources early on!”
Another of her “pet peeves” she says, is when family members forget who they are dealing with when they say things like “over there—it’s right there!” —forgetting for the moment that their loved one can’t see! It’s a huge adjustment for everyone, she concedes, but family sensitivity can go a long way to making someone with vision loss less dependent and more comfortable with their disability.

She told me a story about how even a well-meaning friend once absentmindedly guided her right into the side mirror of a big pick-up truck, hurting her shoulder! “There will definitely be a period of adjustment for friends and family when vision loss occurs, but those friends and family can be the very best support system around, once some kinks are worked out.” Hear, Hear!

SightConnection clients such as Fay show us that with a strong support system, attainable goals, and of course, quality low vision programs and services – lifelong independence is possible!

Help us to help others like Fay lead active, independent lives. Donate Now!

Hazardous Weather

With December come the high winds and unpredictable weather associated with the season change to winter. This can be a precarious time for travel of any kind, including the trek to your mailbox. Many blind and partially sighted people lack confidence getting out and about even in good weather, so when frost and ice make pavements slippery, many feel unable to venture out of their front doors – and feel trapped in their own homes. But at this time of year, we all know to expect the unexpected! The inevitable disruptions of bad weather could have dire impacts if you are living with impaired vision and have not yet mapped out a plan to meet the challenges such weather commonly presents.

Problems like transportation delays, early closures of banks and pharmacies, and power outages that go on for days can become serious threats to your well-being if you are unprepared. For instance, what will you do if you run out of food or vital medications during a storm? Thoughtful planning ahead with your family, friends and support network is the key to being able to deal with, and even survive such major weather related upheaval.

One of the very best things you can do in advance is get to know your neighbors! Developing even the most basic relationship like sharing phone numbers can pay off when a time comes that someone needs help—and that includes you! Often neighbors will step up to check your mail, bring your groceries or pick up prescriptions when the conditions are too unsafe for you to go outside or travel.

To learn more about emergency preparedness along with specific steps to take, view Disaster Preparedness from our public information series.

For further reading:

Donate your Clothing and Household Items

Make room for your holiday gifts. Clean out your closets. Remove the clutter for your holiday parties. If you’re in the greater Seattle area, donate your clothing and household goods to SightConnection. Our partnership with Value Village helps support our programs and services.

Schedule a pickup now by calling 1-800-472-2244 or schedule online and learn more about how your donation supports SightConnection.