Winning Solutions for Failing
Serving Our Community Since 1979
News from the Low Vision Center
by Bill Rolle, Executive Director
Low Vision Center
We've been concerned for sometime about
the need for a positive attitude to overcome
the difficulties incurred when one is diagnosed
with low vision. We sense also that some of
those difficulties may be magnified by loved
ones and friends who don't understand the
loss of vision or how to communicate with
those who experience it. We have attempted
to address both those issues with the first two
pieces in this newsletter. Hope you agree and
that they prove helpful.
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Grant Williams made some meaningful points
in reference to attitude in a
piece he wrote in the
of the Diabetic.
He led with the thought that it's very difficult
for many people to acknowledge that they
have a disease of any kind. "They become
consumed," he said, "with the fact that they
have a chronic disease, that they are not like
others." Their lives are hijacked by their negative
"A positive attitude, on the other hand," he
added, "can change your whole life." He said
the key to a positive life is to do something you
love - enrich your life by having other outlets,
such as hobbies or a fulfilling job. He uses his
time for construction instead of destruction.
He wakes up every day with the attitude that
today he will accomplish something and bring
happiness to someone.
A positive attitude can work wonders, and
you can have one too. Take up a hobby, get a
pet or go on a trip. By doing one of those
things, you will find many rewards. If you like
cooking, collecting, gardening, or playing
sports, do it.
If you get a pet, you will spend time caring
for this pet. Your pet needs you and really
doesn't care if you have a chronic illness. By
loving and nurturing your pet, you will feel
better about yourself, too. You will be needed.
If you take a trip, you will delight in the
places you visit and the new people you meet.
By making your life more fun, you will not be
preoccupied with your chronic illness. You
won't have time to feel sorry for yourself.
It's up to you to get on with your life and
enjoy your blessings. "You can live a long,
happy and productive life, and it starts with
the right attitude," concludes Williams.
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The American Psychological Association
Journal reports in a recent issue that positive
interactions with people with disabilities starts
The article makes the point that certain
words or phrases referring to persons with disabilities
often express negative and disparaging
It's recommended that the word disability
be used to refer to an attribute of a person,
and the word handicap be used to refer to the
source of limitations. "Sometimes," the article
says, "a disability itself may handicap a person,
as when someone with low vision cannot
read the prices in the store when shopping."
"However," the article continues, "when
the limitation is environmental, as in the case
of attitudinal, legal and architectural barriers,
the disability is not handicapping -
This distinction is important because the
environment is frequently overlooked as a
major source of limitation, even when it's far
more limiting than the disability, Thus, the article
points out, prejudice handicaps people by
denying access to opportunities; inadequate
lighting or poor contrast on restaurant menus
limits people with low vision from dining out
The article further points out that use of the
term non-disabled or persons
is preferable to the term normal
when comparing persons with disabilities to
others. Using the term normal makes the
unconscious comparison of abnormal, thus
stigmatizing those individuals with differences.
For example, we would say "a non-disabled
control group," not "a normal control group."
The article concluded that the guiding principle
for non-handicapping language is to
maintain the integrity of individuals as whole
human beings by avoiding language that (a)
implies that a person as a whole is disabled
(e.g. disabled person, (b) equates persons
with their condition (e.g. epileptics), has superfluous,
negative overtones (e.g. stroke victim),
or (d) is regarded as a slur (e.g. cripple).
The preferred language should describe
without implying a negative judgment.
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Wilmer Macular Degeneration Center is
conducting a study aimed at increasing understanding
of the causes of macular degeneration.
The Center is searching for mutations
(mistakes) in genes that contribute to these
conditions. They are seeking a small blood
sample and a photograph of the back of the
eye from a living brother or sister who also
has macular degeneration. To learn more
about the study or to participate, contact the
Betsy Campochiaro. R.N. M.S.N.
600 N. Wolfe Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21287
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Hopkins Lions Low Vision Service addresses
driving safety issues in their new driving evaluation
program. They offer a professional
evaluation of an individual's driving skills. This
helps the individual and family to deal more
objectively with the potentially emotional and
life-changing event - the issue of whether to
continue driving when vision may be impaired
and improvement in vision is unlikely.
The low vision-driving program includes:
Low vision evaluation to determine if the
individual qualifies for the driving program.
Clinical evaluation to assess functional
vision, perception, thought processes and
other skills that must be intact to be able to
compensate for low visual acuity.
A behind the wheel road evaluation to
examine driving skill.
Assessment of reaction time to sudden
events incurred while driving.
Evaluations are conducted by an occupational
therapist and/or certified driving instructor
at Johns Hopkins at Greenspring Station,
10755 Falls Road, Lutherville, Maryland 21093.
Clinical evaluation occurs on the first visit,
lasts two hours and costs $180. Behind the
wheel road evaluation occurs during the second
visit, lasts two hours and also costs $180.
Program would be especially helpful for
individuals whose vision is 20/70 and individuals
whose vision is 20/71 or worse.
There are three driving license categories
in Maryland. They are:
Unrestricted License: Visual acuity
requirement is 20/40
Restricted License: Visual acuity requirement
is between 20/41 and 20/70
Modified Vision Program: Individuals
with vision between 20/71 and 20/100 may
have the opportunity to pursue a driver's
license at the discretion of the Maryland
MVA Medical Advisory Board.
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- Driving with Confidence: A Practical Guide
to Driving with Low Vision (2002) by E. Peli,
and D. Peli, World Scientific Publishing
- Living Well With Macular Degeneration
(2001) by B. Rosenthal and K. Kelly, New
- Macular Degeneration: The Latest Scientific
Discoveries and Treatments for Preserving
Your Sight (2001) by R. Amato. J. Snyder, US
- Macular Degeneration, The Complete Guide
to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight (2003)
by L. Mogk and M Mogk, Ballantine Books
- Overcoming Macular Degeneration-A Guide
to Seeing Beyond the Clouds (2000) by Y.
Solomon, Avon Books, Inc.
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Once again Lord & Taylor at Tyson's Corner
has invited the Low Vision Center to participate
in the store's "Benefit Blast". Buy a $5
ticket from the Center, entire amount goes to
the Center, and you can shop all day at discounted
prices on Tuesday, March 21st this
year. There'll also be a host of other fun activities
going on to make your visit to the store
memorable that day. Call the Low Vision
Center at 301-951-4444 for further information
or to purchase your tickets.
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The Wilmer Macular Degeneration Center
Newsletter suggests that you take an active
role in your health care and offers several
questions that you should ask your retina
Do I have AMD?
Do I have something else?
Is my AMD "wet" or "dry"?
What treatments are available?
What are the treatment risks and side effects?
Will I benefit from taking eye vitamins?
What can I expect to happen on average?
When do I need to follow up?
When should I call if things change?
Would I benefit from low vision services?
Can you suggest other resources I may benefit from?
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