PRISM – January 2011

In This Issue

Happy New Year

CSBPS would like to wish you a Happy New Year!

As we approach the end of 2010, and begin the planning process for 2011, we want your advice. Last May, we hosted Insight: a Low Vision Expo. We’re proud to announce that we will be hosting our second annual, Insight, on May 21st 2011 at the Lynnwood Convention Center from 9am-3pm. With that being said, we want to know what YOU WANT to see, learn, and take away from your experience at this year’s upcoming event.

This Educational Expo brings together community members, service providers, and corporate affiliates who are all dedicated to the awareness and advancement of low vision resources. Your input will help us host a community wide Expo with break-out sessions, key-note speakers, vendors, and demonstrations that meet your individual needs. Please, let us know what you would like to see at Insight 2011.

Contact us at (206) 525-5556 or send an e-mail to info@SightConnection.org with your thoughts, or for information on available sponsorship and vendor opportunities.

January – National Glaucoma Awareness Month

What are your plans for 2011? Eat healthier, exercise more; maybe even visit your eye doctor regularly? Each year, we all make resolutions with the best of intentions. We at CSBPS hope visiting your eye doctor is a resolution you intend to keep! As suggested by the National Eye Institute, January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. So, we are beginning the New Year by highlighting national attention to the importance of detecting glaucoma early.

What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma causes vision loss by damaging the optic nerve. In most types of glaucoma, the eye’s drainage system becomes clogged so the intraocular fluid cannot drain. As the fluid builds up, it causes pressure to build within the eye. As a result, the optic nerve is damaged which may cause vision loss. The amount of pressure it takes to damage the optic nerve varies from person to person.

Glaucoma can be completely painless and often goes undetected for months or years. It first begins by slowly attacking the peripheral vision which causes objects to appear less clearly. Glaucoma if undetected can, however, accelerate quickly and work its way toward the central vision. The most common forms of glaucoma primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, however, anyone at any age could be affected.

Types of Glaucoma
Primary open-angle glaucoma affects nearly three million Americans, as stated by the American Glaucoma Society. In primary open-angle glaucoma, the eye’s drainage canal becomes clogged and the inner eye pressure increases due to improper fluid drainage from the eye. With early detection, medication is available for treatment.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology 90% of those diagnosed with glaucoma have primary open-angle glaucoma. African Americans and Hispanics age 40 or older are at higher risk. Other risk factors for this type of glaucoma include: family history of glaucoma, age over 60, near-sightedness, history of diabetes, use of prescription steroids, past eye injury or surgery.

Normal Tension Glaucoma is a rare condition that develops even though the intraocular pressure is not consistently elevated. Currently, most doctors treat normal tension glaucoma by keeping normal eye pressures as low as possible with medicines, laser surgery, or filtering surgery. Those of Japanese descent may be at higher risk for this type of glaucoma. Other risk factors include cardiovascular disease, and family history of glaucoma.

Secondary glaucoma can result from eye injury, inflammation, tumor, or advanced cases of cataract of diabetes. It can also be caused by certain drugs such as steroids. The type of treatment is dependent on whether a person develops open-angle or angle-closure glaucoma.

Prevention
With the knowledge of what glaucoma is and how it can impact your vision – we hope you’ll check out the prevention recommendations below from MayoClinic.com. We suggest you consider them as an outline for the New Year’s Resolution: prevent glaucoma!

Get regular eye care. Regular comprehensive eye exams can help detect glaucoma in its early stages before irreversible damage occurs. As a general rule, have comprehensive eye exams every three to five years after age 40 and every year after age 60. Ask your doctor to recommend the right screening schedule for you.

Treat elevated eye pressure. Glaucoma eye drops can significantly reduce the risk that elevated eye pressure will progress to glaucoma. To be effective, these drops must be taken regularly even if you have no symptoms.

Control your weight and blood pressure. Studies have shown that insulin resistance – which may result from hypertension and obesity – is linked to elevated intraocular pressure.

Wear eye protection. Serious eye injuries can lead to glaucoma. Wear eye protection when you use power tools or play high-speed racket spots on enclosed courts.

According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. Sight loss from glaucoma is irreversible. There are several reasons why glaucoma has now become the second leading cause of blindness, experts say. One is age. As the population grows older, the prevalence of glaucoma rises. As mentioned by MayoClinic.com the most important action anyone at risk can take is to have regular, comprehensive eye examinations.

Glaucoma Research Foundation and MayoClinic.com are great resources for more information on glaucoma and available treatments.

Success Story: Clarence Haverstock

“When people are diagnosed with this, macular degeneration, they’re scared. It’s a scary disease.” said Clarence, an 87 year old CSBPS client who is currently facing this blinding disease. Though his vision is no longer what it used to be, Clarence doesn’t let it get in the way of his daily routine. He was diagnosed with wet macular degeneration in 2005. His first question to his ophthalmologist was, “Am I going to go blind?” Clarence understood the impact of macular degeneration, but was uncertain of its progression. It was then that Clarence was referred to CSBPS by his eye care physician.

In his initial visit with our Rehabilitation Specialist, Jane, Clarence recalls, “When Jane walked into the door carrying a white cane I said to her, ‘Oh no, I don’t need that,’ but I quickly learned not to be too proud to use it!” Though hesitant at first, Clarence now uses a folding white support cane daily; on the bus, at the grocery store, and at the local YMCA. While on a trip to Florida to visit family, Clarence found that his cane was a tool to connect with others. “People were so helpful when I was using my cane. I encourage anyone who has or needs one to use it.” In addition to Orientation and Mobility training, Jane marked his microwave, stove, dishwasher, and thermostat with bump-dots and Velcro – which make the process of cooking, cleaning up, and monitoring temperature much easier.

A tour of Clarence’s home reveals that he has benefited from many of the services offered by CSBPS. In nearly each room he has a light, which he explains, fits the work or leisure tasks that he completes in those spaces. Clarence was able to find the perfect light for his eyes with the assistance of our Low Vision Specialists. In addition to valuable lighting, Clarence was introduced to Max TV glasses, which he uses to watch his favorite sports teams. In his dining room, he has a closed circuit television (CCTV) that he purchased through our adaptive aids store, Sight Connection. Clarence uses his CCTV on a daily basis to read mail, food packages, and other fine print.

“This is where I spend most of my time!” declares Clarence as he shows me his office space. At first glance, I see a large-print calendar and a felt tipped pen. At his computer, Clarence points out a large-print keyboard with yellow buttons and black letters. When he turns on his screen the words are magnified to fill up his 17” monitor. Eager to maintain connections with his friends and family through the internet, Clarence uses the skills he gained from our Assistive Technology Specialist to use his computer. Also, when he’s not out golfing with his buddies, taking classes at the Y, or watching sports on TV, Clarence is surfing the web.

As we at CSBPS work with Clarence, we understand that it is the small things in life that create such an impact. Clarence relies on connections with others, adaptive devices, and assistive technology tools to successfully continue living independently. Clarence is continuing to do the things he loves, cooking, watching sports, playing golf, and mostly, connecting with his friends and family through assistive technology. Clarence has found that with the right support, having macular degeneration isn’t so scary.

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

Technologically Speaking

“The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life.” –Bill Gates, Microsoft

In a world where technology rules, Bill Gates might assume it’s a part of everyone’s “everyday life.” That, however, is not the case. The number of individuals who shy away from the trends of technology and limit themselves from modern opportunities is quite surprising. Those with no or low vision may find the use of technology increasingly difficult. For those who find themselves technologically un-savvy, uncertain, and unaware of the existing possibilities, please read this article to learn more about the Assistive Technology (AT) services available at CSBPS.

Assistive Technology is a term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for those with low vision, for example; software that can read computer screens, scanners that read magazines or other text out loud, Braille tools, toll-free phone number and newspaper reading services, websites that have downloadable books and magazines, and more. We pride ourselves in staying on top of the latest developments in the AT field, which in turn, allows us to keep our clients connected with the most current resources available. It can be difficult to access tools such as a computer’s large print feature, but don’t worry, we can help!

Without adequate training, one may face major obstacles in improving their computer and/or internet use. Our AT specialist provides hands-on demonstrations of selected products and offers individual instruction in their use.

Products available for individual instruction are:
• Accessible Mac laptop/PC
• Braille training
• Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)
• Software synthesizer
• Large display monitors
• Optical character recognition software
• Personal readers
• Scanners
• Screen enlargement software
• Screen reading software

Our resources are not limited to the selected products above. Please let us know if there is an assistive technology device you would like to know more about.

AT promotes greater independence by enabling people to perform technological tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish. Like all of the services at CSBPS, our AT program enhances safety, promotes self-reliance, and supports skill development. The increasing sophistication in technology will only continue to grow as time goes on. Please contact our Assistive Technology Department for supportive, compassionate, client-focused technology services that will help you gain the skills to research and access community resources, send and receive e-mails, surf the internet with confidence, remain connected with family and friends.

For more information on Assistive Technology services please contact us at (206) 525-5556, toll free at (800) 458-4888 or e-mail info@SightConnection.org.

SightConnection Store: Scanning and Reading Appliance (SARA)

Advanced technology means simple solutions!

The SARA, from Freedom Scientific is a tool for those with no or low vision, or who are deaf-blind. It enables individuals to read a wide variety of printed materials including books, documents, mail, newspapers, magazines, and so much more.

Using optical character recognition (OCR) technology, the SARA works like a computer scanner that recognizes text, translates it into speech, then reads the text aloud.

In addition, the SARA has a built-in CD player that gives the user options to read books saved on disk. The SARA can be attached to a computer monitor or TV for colorful, large print that complements the speech. The print, type style, color, spacing, and size are adjustable to meet the user’s needs.

For those with little to no computer experience, the SARA is your solution for reading printed material. Right out of the box you can place a book on the SARA, press a button, and have the text read back to you. CSBPS also provides training for those who request instruction in product use.

Click here to visit SightConnection online for more information about the SARA!