Closed Circuit Television

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This mouse connects to a television or a desktop computer. When connected you put the mouse over the material you want to read and it projects on the screen. This can magnify to as high as 60x magnification. You can also select the background color. Especially if you are used to using a mouse for the computer, this will be easy to learn to use.

Aumed Video Magnifier

Age-related Macular Degeneration

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative disease of the macula, which is the central portion of the retina. This causes progressive loss of central vision. Since the central vision is the one involved, many of the daily tasks are affected. These include reading, writing, sewing, and the like. Therefore if one has visual disturbances from AMD, the quality of life most likely will deteriorate.

Symptoms are described as having a blurred spot in the central vision, and this usually interferes with tasks that require using their central vision like reading, and writing, and driving. Other symptoms include distortion in the center of the image. Straight lines may appear wavy.

Symptoms include cloudy vision. Sometimes there is glare, and double vision with one eye. Cataracts are usually caused by age. Our natural lens ages and changes in color, as we get older. There are however other causes of cataracts. These include those who have them at birth (congenital), those who develop them in young adulthood (developmental), those acquired from diseases like diabetes mellitus, and those that result as a complication of the intake of some medications like steroids.

If you have been diagnosed with AMD, you are not alone. There are millions of people who have this disease, especially people above the age of 55.

The cause of macular degeneration is unknown but the risk increases with advancing age. Other risk factors are hypertension, smoking, and those with family histories of retinal diseases.

There are two forms of AMD, dry and wet AMD. Dry AMD consists of yellowish deposits called drusen, which accumulate under the central portion of the macula. In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessel growth forms under the central portion of the retina, and it leaks and damages the photoreceptor cells. This can progress rapidly and cause severe damage. But the damage is contained in the patient’s central vision. It can produce a scar, which causes visual impairment that limits the patient to engage in daily activities that require detailed central vision. But even if it may significantly reduce vision, it does not lead to total blindness. Some useable visual function will remain.

There is still no cure for AMD, but there are treatment options that include vitamin supplement for the dry type, and laser treatment or intravitreal injections for the wet type. Your retina specialist can advise you on the best treatment option for you to improve your vision, and to stop your vision loss from progressing. (link to AEC retina page)

Some lifestyle habits have to change like smoking, and diet. Discuss this with your doctor.

If your visual impairment affects your quality of life, then you should ask for consult with a low vision specialist. You can discuss how your vision has affected your quality of life, and the low vision specialist will help you with aids, and services to maximize your residual vision to its fullest potential, and get back to the life you want to lead.

Looking through the eyes…

When visual impairment develops from birth, more often than not, the parents are the ones that need counseling. They get depressed because they want the best for their
child. They want their child to see the world as they see the world. The child
on the other hand, sees the world as it is. He doesn’t know any better. He was
born this way. The child learns how to see with his impaired vision, he
develops visual clues in order to adapt to the vision he was given.

I recently had a patient, a young handsome man, on his late 20s who has
a rod cone dystrophy. What is rod-cone dystrophy? This is an inherited disease
that affects the rods and cones of the eye. There are two kinds of cells in the back
of the eye or the retina called rods and cones. The cones gather information
about details and color. They work best in bright light. They are located in the
center of the back of the eye. The rods are all around the rest of the back of the
eye. They gather information about things that move and things that are on
the sides, above and below the person. They work best in dim light. People
who have rod-cone dystrophy lose the use of the rods and cones. Aside from the dystrophy, he is also very nearsighted and wears very thick glasses. Despite the impairment, up until employment, he was leading a normal life. He went through elementary and high school with no problems. He continued to college and finished hotel and restaurant management. I asked him what his goal was. He wants to work in a hotel, but he keeps being rejected due to his vision or the fact that he wears very thick glasses. He has been trying to get a job in a hotel as a bellboy or at the housekeeping department. He always faced rejection. The reason? His vision!

This man is very independent. He can commute on his own, he does everything by himself, and he can even drive. While jobless, he continues to educate himself and look for opportunities where he can work through the internet. He is very driven and motivated. He said, actually doctor there is nothing wrong with him as far as functioning with my daily activities. The problem lies with people who can’t accept me for my thick glasses. It’s so difficult for visually impaired people to get a job, even if they are as capable. They have rights and it’s all in republic act no 7277 known as the magna carta for disabled persons. This is a law passed since 1991 but sadly has not been enforced.

Good things happen to people that patiently yearn

I saw a young lady a few months ago who had to stop school after she finished high school. It was just too difficult for her to handle the school work because of her vision. She has a condition that affects the nerves of the eye (optic nerve), which she developed as a child. As she grew up, her vision began to slowly deteriorate. For this impairment affecting the optic nerve, she was told that there was no medical or surgical treatment option for her. She came for low vision consultation, and when I asked her what she wanted to do, she said she wanted to go back to school. We tried several devices. She was happiest  with the bioptic telescope. With it, she was able to see 20/20 and although she knew there was a learning curve on how to use it properly, she was determined to learn and use the device. “I can see! I can see!. Dad, I want this telescope!”. Unfortunately, the telescope is very expensive. But she wanted it. She said it will be very useful for her because with it, she will be able to see the blackboard, and see her computer too. I saw the sad face of her father. His expression said it all. (She wants it so much and I want to give it to her, but I can’t). So they told me they would think about it and get back to me if they were going to order it.  Months passed and I would be checking on her but she kept postponing her return. She finally came back and said she wanted the bioptic telescope and she was ready to order. She even enrolled for the next school term. So she tried the device again and was really happy. Her parents were smiling now and they said they can get it for her now. I thought she had given up.  Then she told her story. She would go everyday to church and pray that she would be able to get the device so she can go back to school. Then one day, one of the church members donated an amount to her. Much to her surprise, she donated the whole amount needed!

 I was touched with her story. Her desire to go back to school and to learn was very inspiring. This is one student who will not rejoice when classes are suspended!  She is very eager to go to school. This girl wished, and she wished harder.  Her impairment was not an obstacle. Instead, her motivation and enthusiasm made her want and dream.  I know that her dreams will become a reality.

Bioptic telescope by Ocutech

 It is a telescope mounted into eyeglasses that are very light and portable. They are convenient to use as they leave your hands free! It improves your distance vision (watching tv, recognizing faces), and has an adjustable knob for intermediate vision like for computer work, playing cards, painting, and the like.

White cane week? Everyday miracles unnoticed…

In case you are not aware, this week is White Cane Week. White cane activities are centered on the capabilities of the disabled and visually impaired. This year, one day is dedicated to the visually impaired. This is on August 5 Friday from 8 am to 5 pm at the Legislative Building Quezon city hall. This event is organized by My Refuge Low Vision Support Group. They call this a KA Vision Fest and entitled it a Journey Behind Low vision.

The my refuge support group has been around for quite some time and this is their time to shine. Everyone is welcome, especially visually impaired individuals, and their families. If you want to understand what low vision is about, and if you want to see that indeed, life goes on with visually challenged individuals, this is the place to be. Success stories will be shared; and an understanding of low vision and the diseases leading to it will be discussed. Furthermore, assistive devices will be demonstrated. There will also be a movie showing about dealing and coping with visual impairments. No one should miss this very touching and interesting movie. There will also be a show of talents. It will be a day filled with information, awareness, and entertainment.

There is no one more excited than myself to be part of this event. I get my inspiration and desire to work from my visually challenged patients. They teach me that with perseverance and the right attitude, you can do anything you want to do.

when opposites attract

the yellow tape helped enhance the change in level of the steps

One of the most basic principles of enhancing vision is contrast;Our vision is improved when we enhance our contrast.  When there is good contrast, things stand out more clearly.  For example, if you eat white rice on a white plate its more likely that a visually challenged person would have difficulty seeing it.  So if you use a blue plate or a dark-colored plate, then the white rice stands out.  When there are steps to go to a different room, if the person is not familiar with the place, and the elevated step is the same color as the floor, then there is a higher chance that one can trip over or miss this step.  To remedy this, if the floor is grey, then you put a bright-colored  tape that contrasts with grey (neon yellow, white, etc) at the edge of the step so that it would be easy to detect that there is a change in the level of the floor. These are easy tips of how to enhance contrast at home.

One way to enhance contrast for visually challenged people is to wear filters.  There are yellow, or amber lenses and different shades of amber.  These can be sunglasses, or fit-overs (they fit over your glasses).  When worn, they improve one’s vision almost always. When used for outdoors, they darken dark colors, but they don’t darken the light colors.  When used for reading, it can darken the print on the page. It can also improve watching television.

Enhancing contrast is another easy way to maximize your visual potential.

the black coffee on a transparent cup is easier to see than water on a transparent cup
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