Friday, April 15, 2005

Hope and Help for People with Vision Loss

ARA) - For about 14 million Americans -- one out of every 20 -- have an eye condition called low vision. Most people develop low vision because of eye diseases, such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, or age-related macular degeneration -- the leading cause of severe visual impairment and blindness in Americans 60 years of age and older.

This condition makes it difficult to recognize faces of friends, see the television, read mail, and walk around the neighborhood. The good news is help is available for people with vision loss.

"The fact is that people can do something about it,” said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute (NEI). “People with low vision can improve their quality of life through vision rehabilitation services to teach them how to use their remaining vision more effectively. Using a variety of visual and adaptive devices may bring back or help them keep their independence," he says. For instance, some people may benefit from the use of magnifying lenses for close-up viewing, and telescopic lenses for seeing in the distance. They may need to learn how to get around their neighborhoods, or guidance on making modifications in their homes. Group support from others who suffer from low vision is another important resource.

The experts suggest that those who suffer from low vision should be persistent. “Remember that you are your best health advocate,” said Sieving. “Investigate and learn as much as you can, especially if you have been told that you may lose more vision or that nothing more can be done for you. It is important that you ask questions about vision rehabilitation and get answers. Many resources are available to help you.” For a free booklet, “What You Should Know About Low Vision,” call (877) 569-8474.

Courtesy of ARA Content
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