Winning Solutions for Failing Sight
Serving Our Community Since 1979

Summer/Fall 2007



by Ms. Terry Eason, Executive Director
Low Vision Center
assisted by Ms. Victoria Sheffield

Are you in need of some summer reading?  Perhaps this issue of LVC's EyePower is what you have been looking for.  We have news and information for you in this issue that we hope you will find useful.

First, we have some valuable information on diet and your eyes, as well as Metro services available for those with disabilities such as low vision.

Next, our volunteer, Tony Dwyer, has compiled some more interesting resources for the visually-impaired who use technology such as computers and cell phones but could use some assistance with these new devices.

We bring you some news from our Low Vision Center including information about our support group, our need for volunteers, our new board member, Rev. Mansfield Kaseman, and summer intern, Ms. Victoria Sheffield as well as an opportunity for some great entertainment that will benefit LVC too.

We finish this issue of EyePower with our usual helpful hints that we think you will find useful.

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The Importance of a Healthy Diet in Low Vision Prevention:

While many know of the harmful effects obesity has on cardiovascular health, they may be unaware that the obesity epidemic spreading across America is also giving low vision specialists a cause for concern.  According to the National Eye Institute, an estimated 1 in 12 diabetes patients, about 1.7 million people, will suffer from diabetic retinopathy within the next few years.  (Diabetes is strongly linked to poor diet and lack of exercise).  Obesity is also a cause of high blood pressure, which can predispose a person to abnormalities and damage within the retina and optic nerve.

In addition to this, studies show that a diet rich in antioxidants such as vitamins E and C, beta-carotene, zinc and lutein -- found in colorful fruits and vegetables, such as spinach, romaine lettuce, leeks, peas, brussels sprouts, green peppers, kiwi fruits and red grapes -- may slow vision loss in patients with AMD.  A recent study from the National Eye Institute has also shown that people who have had a lifetime of diets rich in anti-oxidants were less likely to develop wet-AMD than people with consistent low anti-oxidant intakes.

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MetroAccess Free Ride:

Metrobus customers with a valid MetroAccess ID card are eligible (along with one companion) to ride Metrobus, Metrorail, DC Circulator, Montgomery County Ride-On, Falls Church's GEORGE bus, Fairfax County's Fairfax Connector, and the City of Fairfax's CUE Bus for free.

MetroAccess also offers free orientation sessions to teach people with disabilities how to safely and successfully use buses and rails, as well as offers trip-planning assistance.  To arrange for an orientation session or to get more information, call 202-962-1558.

On a similar note, MetroAccess has recently released a booklet entitled "Accessible Transportation Options for Customers with Disabilities in the Washington Region," which serves as a comprehensive informational guide for helping seniors and people with disabilities find options for independent commuting.  You can find the booklet online at www.wmata.com under the section marked "Accessibility," or have it sent to your home by calling 202-962-1100.

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Magnifier Mouse:

We thank Lakh Virdee for bringing this product to our attention.

If your computer has Microsoft Windows 2000 or a later version, you can buy a Microsoft Mouse with a special "magnify" button to use with it.  Once you have installed the Microsoft Intellipoint software that comes with the mouse, clicking the "magnify" button turns the area on your screen around the mouse pointer into a "virtual magnifying glass" which will follow the mouse pointer around the screen as you work.  The size and power of the "magnifying glass" are easily changed by using the "magnify" button in conjunction with other mouse functions.  Clicking the "magnify" button a second time turns off the magnifier until the next time you want it.

Microsoft makes many models of magnifier mice with differing features and prices.  One of the less expensive models is the Comfort Optical Mouse 3000; its retail price is around $25, but we have seen it for less on the Internet.  Through the generosity of Tony Dwyer, the computer in the demonstration area here at LVC is now equipped with this model.  Call us at 301-951-4444 if you want more information or an appointment to come try it.

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Screen Readers for Cell Phones:

We thank Bill Paul for bringing the Cingular offer to our attention.

In the Spring 2007 issue of EyePower we told you about a simple cell phone called Jitterbug.  For those who want the features of a more complicated cell phone, here's another option.  Screen reader software, similar to that used by blind computer users, is available for cell phones.

Dolphin Computer Access makes Smart HAL; when installed in a "smart" cell phone that uses Microsoft Windows Mobile it can speak all the information on the phone's screen, including the signal strength and battery level.  The program costs $195 (in addition to whatever you pay for your cell phone and phone service), and can be transferred if you upgrade or replace your phone.

For those using a Nokia or similar smart phone running the Symbian Series 60 or Series 80 operating system, Nuance Communications makes Nuance TALKS, also designed to allow "eyes free" use of the phone.  TALKS is available in Standard and Premium editions.  The retail price for the Premium edition, which allows customization of pronunciation and labeling of icons, is $295.

Cingular Wireless sells an older version of the TALKS Standard edition for the Nokia 6620 phone for $199.  As of this writing, Cingular offers an introductory rebate offer to those with qualifying visual disabilities.  A $199 rebate in the form of Cingular service credits is available to those signing a two-year contract, or a $100 rebate for a one-year contract.  Contact the Cingular National Center for Customers with Disability at 1-866-241-6568 to learn if the rebates are still available.

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New Website for the Visually Impaired:

The American Foundation for the Blind has launched the AFB Senior Site, a website specifically designed to meet the needs of seniors losing their vision, as well as their families and the professionals who serve them.  The website offers a forum where people can ask questions, share their experiences, and offer support to others with low vision.

Visit www.afb.org/seniorsite for further information.

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For Animal Lovers:

Did you know some kangaroos live in trees?  If not, you didn't read the May/June issue of Zoogoer, the bimonthly magazine for members of Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ).

An audio version of Zoogoer is available on the Internet for FONZ members who have trouble reading the print edition.  The Smithsonian Accessibility Program creates the audio recordings.  As soon as each recording is ready, each is linked directly to the web page to which it corresponds.  (This may take a few weeks after the print edition is published.)  Go to www.fonz.org/zoogoer.htm and check for a "Listen Now" button near the title of each article.  From this same web page, you can access Zoogoer in pod cast format or find back issues in the archives.

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Join Us for a Night at the Theatre to Benefit LVC in November 2007:

We have only 50 tickets for the Tony Award winning show, THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, on Saturday, November 3, 2007 at The National Theatre of Washington DC, show time 8:00pm.  The show, which opened in 2005, has been playing to full houses ever since.  We are selling the tickets for $120.00, $25.25 of which is your tax-deductible donation to the Low Vision Center.  If you wish to expand your donation, we thank you in advance.  Tickets will be sold on a first-come-first-serve basis so plan ahead and get your checks to us without delay.  Checks should be made payable to Low Vision Center and mailed to 7701 Woodmont Ave #604, Bethesda, MD 20814.  Please be sure to include contact information such as phone numbers and address.  We are looking forward to seeing you on November 3rd.

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LVC Outreach:

Did you know that the Low Vision Center does outreach?  We would be happy to visit your senior center, retirement community, medical office or low vision group to give a presentation and demonstration of low vision devices.  Please call our office at 301-951-4444 to get your demonstration scheduled on our calendar.

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LVC Board:

The Low Vision Center's Board of Directors has expanded to include Rev. Mansfield (Kasie) Kaseman.  Reverend Kaseman joins us after spending more than 25 years as Pastor and Community Minister at the Rockville United Church and Community Ministries of Rockville.  We welcome Reverend Kaseman to our board!

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Would This Work for You?

We are now able to send you our newsletters via e-mail! If you would prefer to receive our news electronically (or simply in addition to the paper-version newsletter), please call us at 301-951-4444 so we can add you to our mailing list.

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LVC's Wellesley Intern:

Have you noticed a new voice on the telephone when you called the Low Vision Center this summer?  We are please to have the wonderful help of our Wellesley intern, Ms. Victoria Sheffield.  Victoria is a rising college junior, majoring in English at Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA.  During the school year, she works with the Wellesley Disability Service Center specifically in aiding her campus's low vision community.  Some of the tasks Victoria has been working on for LVC include the editing and reprinting of our resource booklet, as well as contributions to and editing of this issue of EyePower, and organization of our Bethesda office.  Thanks, Toria, for your dedication and valuable assistance to our center this summer!

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Do you want to give some time to your community and help others in need?  Have you ever thought about volunteering at the Low Vision Center?  Our center depends on volunteers who help with daily operations.  Volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks which include assisting our clients and talking to senior centers about LVC and its services.  Our greatest need is for help with grant writing and fundraising.

If you possess talents in these areas and would like to share your time with us, please contact the office at 301-951-4444 and ask for Terry or through email at LowVisionCtr@aol.com.

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LVC Support Group:

The low vision support group that meets monthly in our office has space for new members.  If you would like to join us, please call the office at 301-951-4444 for the next meeting date.

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LVC Has Used CCTVs For Sale:

The Low Vision Center currently has two CCTVs and one portable CCTV in good condition for sale.  All are sold AS IS and range in price from $200 to $1,000.  Please call the office at 301-951-4444 if you would like to make an appointment to come in to see these reading machines.

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Helpful Hints for Organizing Your Home:

  • Eliminate clutter!

    De-cluttering is key to more easily managing your home when you have low vision.  Ask a friend or family member to help you to sort through closets, cupboards, file and medicine cabinets, desks and any other storage spaces.  Discard unused or broken tools, expired foods or medications, and clothes and accessories you seldom use.  By eliminating clutter, you will have less to sort through when looking for a particular item.

  • Once you have de-cluttered your home, organize!

    • Use labeled shoeboxes for storing such things as purses and medicines.  They can also be used as dividers in large drawers to separate things like belts from scarves, or socks from stockings.

    • Use transparent, zip-lock storage bags to store certain foods, medications, and clothing.

    • Use white, unlined index cards with dark-colored and bold-tipped pens for labeling drawers and cabinets.  You can use rubber bands to attach these cards to items such as cans of soup.

    • Use rubber bands to help you distinguish between similarly shaped bottles, such as shampoo and conditioner, or milk and orange juice.

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End Notes:

"Good works are links that form a chain of love."

- Mother Teresa

Perhaps you could be a link in LVC's chain.

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