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LOW VISION
CENTER

Winning Solutions for Failing Sight
Serving Our Community Since 1979




EyePower
Spring 2006

News from the Low Vision Center

Contents


EyeView

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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Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life

Grant Williams made some meaningful points in reference to attitude in a recent piece he wrote in the Voice 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 attitude.

"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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Disability Etiquette

The American Psychological Association Journal reports in a recent issue that positive interactions with people with disabilities starts with awareness.

The article makes the point that certain words or phrases referring to persons with disabilities often express negative and disparaging attitudes.

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 - the environmental factor is."

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 easily.

The article further points out that use of the term non-disabled or persons without disabilities 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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Genetic Study of Macular Degenerations

The 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 study coordinator:

     Betsy Campochiaro. R.N. M.S.N.
     Maumenee 706
     600 N. Wolfe Street
     Baltimore, Maryland 21287
     Phone: 410-614-6208
     E-mail: bcampo@jhmi.edu

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Driving - Vision Concerns?

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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Recommended Reading

  • Driving with Confidence: A Practical Guide to Driving with Low Vision (2002) by E. Peli, and D. Peli, World Scientific Publishing Company.

  • Living Well With Macular Degeneration (2001) by B. Rosenthal and K. Kelly, New American Library

  • Macular Degeneration: The Latest Scientific Discoveries and Treatments for Preserving Your Sight (2001) by R. Amato. J. Snyder, US Walker Publishing

  • 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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Support The Center

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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Questions for Your Doctor

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 specialist:
  • 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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