Winning Solutions for Failing Sight
Serving Our Community Since 1979

Winter 2010



by Ms. Terry Eason
Executive Director, Low Vision Center

If you are like me and enjoy the change of seasons, then you were happy to see the leaves change, and enjoy the occasional peacefulness that a fresh snowfall delivers.  Winter brings us the holidays and a new year, with much to anticipate.  However, some of you have difficulty seeing these changes, and when the joyful holidays end, we can be left somewhat depressed.  This, combined with the current economic news, has many of us in a funk.  I hope that this issue of >EyePower will cheer you up like the fresh breath of the changing seasons.  After all, there are seasons in life too, and they bring us many gifts as well.

We will explore depression and give you some suggestions for getting past this common foe.  We will also feature a piece on one of our talented and hard working board members.  Plus we will introduce you to our newest employee, Mrs. Pat Mertens.  We are using some of the board's wonderful suggestions, such as the new 'EyeKnow' segment.  I hope you enjoy their efforts!

In addition, we would like to hear from you, our devoted clients.  Your words just might be the thing we need to help us get much needed funding from our community.  Our efforts to solicit grants, if successful, will assist LVC as we attempt to expand our fundraising efforts and thus our services to you.

Finally, we include information about used CCTVs for sale.  These are great tools that we have available at a fraction of the original cost.  We trust you will find all of this useful.

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Depression, Low Vision, and You:

Vision loss and the associated difficulties that accompany it can cause many major problems, not the least of which is depression.  There is a school of thought that says, "You have been given this problem by life, so deal with it and get over it!" The truth is that the fear of becoming blind is terrifying!

Now, how does one cope with this depression?  There is that feeling, "I must hide this depression from my spouse, family and loved ones as they might think I am weak or selfcentered."  Well, there are many avenues that you can consider, but the one you should not be doing is suppressing or concealing your depression.

The only way depression can be dealt with is to acknowledge it and get help.  To begin with, have an honest conversation with your doctor.  Physicians do not always identify depression.  They often miss it so you must address it with them.  Sometimes the issue requires the help of professional counselors or therapists.  There is no stigma attached to seeking such help.  If professional assistance or medication is what you need to eliminate your depression, you must give yourself what you need.

There are publications available from the National Eye Institute (Aging and Your Eyes nei.nih.gov/catalog/aging-and-your-eyes-infographic) and Lighthouse International (Family and Friends Can Make A Difference 1-800-829-0500).  These publications offer a beginning to start discussing your issues with depression and visual impairment.

Another avenue of assistance is a support group.  Sharing your problems with those suffering from similar problems is a great way to get help.  It helps you feel that you are not alone in this situation.  (The Low Vision Center is currently starting up new groups.  Call us at 301-951-4444 if you are interested.)

Whether a support group or counseling is the route that you choose, we hope that you will follow up and take the necessary steps to get past your depression.  This is your life and you are entitled to live it well.

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Let Us Introduce You To - Sherry Stein:

Sherry Stein is our board president who joined us June 7, 2006.  Sherry is employed full-time as a Senior Client Manager by Willis of Maryland, Inc., and also works part time as an usher at the Kennedy Center.  So you ask, when does Sherry have time for LVC and what is her interest in low vision?  Well, Sherry is the daughter of our long time Vice President, Soo-z Stein.  Sherry has shared Soo-z's long journey with Macular Degeneration and vision loss.  She knows and understands the struggles her mother, and you, encounter living with this impairment.  But instead of commiserating, Sherry chose to act.  She has taken on the mission of the Low Vision Center and spends endless hours helping us with fundraising, such as our very successful yard sale this past October, and the Board drive at year-end.  We are so grateful to have Sherry sharing her extra time with LVC, and appreciate all the energy that she brings to our board!

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Our board member, Stan Cohen, brought us the idea of a feature in our newsletter where we ask folks for their 'uppers and downers' of dealing with low vision in our community.  It is Stan's hope that LVC take on a more active advocacy role.  Sherry suggested that we call this give and take section 'EyeKnow' and thus your new soapbox was born.  We invite you to tell us your personal stories of your problems and satisfaction with regard to services and low vision.  This column is for you.  We welcome your grievances as well as your tips and ideas.  We hope to spread this information to our local business community via this publication and letters from the Low Vision Center.  Please send your ideas to us at the Low Vision Center, 7701 Woodmont Avenue, #604, Bethesda, MD 20814, or via email at lowvisionctr@aol.com.  Remember to give us your contact information, phone number or email.  By submitting responses you are giving LVC permission to use your words in future newsletters and other publications.

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Your First EyeKnow Item:

Do you have problems with the lighting level when you go to a restaurant?  Is the Hostess stand visible and well lit?  LVC recommends that you become a 'squeaky wheel' and make your needs known.  Address your concerns with the management.  Advise the staff when you make your reservation that you have low vision and need their bestlit table.  Ask for the large print menu.

In a survey of local restaurants LVC has asked these questions.  We have learned that some efforts such as large print menus have been abandoned, because they were never requested!  We were happy to find that staff of most of the establishments we contacted had been trained to read the menu to those in need.  Always remember that they often cannot see that you are in need as low vision does not always have outward signs.  So ask for the help you need!

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New Employee:

We're pleased to welcome Pat Mertens to our LVC family.  Pat will be seeing clients on Thursday and Friday afternoons, as well as overlapping with Terry one afternoon a week.  Pat brings a wealth of experience, patience and knowledge to LVC, as her main occupation is ESOL Paraeducator and AP (Advanced Placement) Testing Coordinator for Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Montgomery County, Maryland.  Pat is working parttime and her primary function is seeing you.  If you wish to speak with Pat or make an appointment to see her, please call our office at 301-951-4444.

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In Your Own Words:

Did you have a good experience when you visited the Low Vision Center?  Did you learn tips and techniques or find a tool that made your life easier?  Are you good at putting these things into words?  If so, we would love to hear from you.  We would like to use your own words in future newsletters and other publications documenting the work that we do, its success, and hopefully inspiring others to make an appointment to visit our center.

Please send your written articles to the Low Vision Center at 7701 Woodmont Avenue, #604, Bethesda, MD 20814, or via email at lowvisionctr@aol.com.

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Even More Used CCTVs for Sale:

They are multiplying!  We now have more models of used CCTVs for sale, and we are lowering the prices too!  There are many styles and manufacturers, both black and white and color models.  All are sold in 'as is' condition.  For a complete list go to our website (www.lowvisioninfo.org) or call our office at 301-951-4444.

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Advertising LVC:

Since LVC is a nonprofit organization that proudly runs on a very low budget, we do not have funds for advertising.  But you, our clients, can assist us in getting the word out about the Low Vision Center.  Tell someone about LVC.  You can help a friend, a neighbor, or family member simply by conveying your experience as a client of the Low Vision Center.  You can even assist many strangers by telling your ophthalmologist about our center, the free services that you received here and the many aids you were able to try.  We are happy to provide LVC brochures to facilitate you with this effort!  Thank you for your help!

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"A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others."

-- The Wizard to the Tin Man

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