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October – Are you at an increased risk for macular degeneration?

A patient called in to an IALVS doctor’s office concerned their mother lost vision from Macular Degeneration before she died and now that the patient was age 65, she was concerned she may get it.

There is an increased risk if a parent or sibling has the disease by three to four times. But the good news is there are things you can do to protect your eyesight, and a number of treatments that are available if you do happen to get it. Here’s what you should know.

What is AMD?

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 50, affecting about 10 million Americans.

AMD is a progressive eye disease that damages the macula, the part of the eye that allows us to see objects clearly, causing vision loss in the center of your vision. This affects the ability to read, drive, watch television and do routine daily tasks, but it does not cause total blindness.

There are two types of AMD — wet and dry.

Dry AMD, which affects about 90 percent of all people that have it, progresses slowly and painlessly over a period of years. Wet AMD is much more aggressive and can cause severe vision loss in a matter of weeks or months.

Factors that can increase your risk of getting AMD include age (60 and older); smoking; excessive exposure to sunlight especially if you have light-colored eyes; certain genetic components; a family history of AMD; high blood pressure; obesity; and being Caucasian.

For anyone over the age of 60, it’s a smart idea to get your eyes examined by an every year – especially if you are at a higher risk, or are showing symptoms of vision loss. Early signs may include shadowy areas in your central vision or unusually fuzzy or distorted vision. If you are experiencing any early signs, it is a good idea to have a specific low vision exam performed by an IALVS trained optometrist.

Preventing AMD

While there’s currently no cure for AMD, there are some things you can do if you’re high risk.

One option is to talk to your IALVS doctor about taking a daily dose of low vision vitamins and minerals known as AREDS — vitamins C and E, plus copper, lutein, zeaxanthin and zinc. Studies by the National Eye Institute have shown that AREDS can reduce the risk by about 25 percent that dry AMD will progress.

Other lifestyle adjustments that may help prevent or delay AMD include eating antioxidant-rich foods such as dark green, leafy vegetables, and cold-water fish for their omega-3 fatty acids; protecting your eyes from the sun by wearing UV protective sunglasses; controlling high blood pressure; exercising regularly; and if you smoke, quit.

 

July 2016 – Helping with Vision Loss

People who have vision loss commonly experience depression, anxiety, and confusion. The consequences of vision loss however, often extend beyond the person who has low vision. The family members, friends, and caregivers of people experiencing vision loss also are affected.

When a loved one becomes visually impaired, you are likely to feel overwhelmed. You also may experience a range of feelings, from sadness to guilt, and there are many day-to-day adjustments to make. You may find yourself putting aside your feelings and needs to focus on helping your loved one cope. Yet, in many cases, you may feel alone and at a loss about what to do or how to help.

You and your loved one are not alone. You may have been told “nothing more can be done,” but that simply is not true. Something can always be done.

Many people with low vision already have an eye doctor who is treating them for an eye disease such as macular degeneration, glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa or other genetic diseases. However, if your eye doctor doesn’t specialize in low vision, he or she may have only a limited knowledge of the many choices that exist in low vision aids and treatment options.

The International Academy of Low Vision Specialists consists of intensively trained Low Vision Optometrists that have extensive experience in providing customized low vision devices and low vision prescription glasses enabling patients to achieve maximum functional vision and independence.

Take the first step to a Better Life with Low Vision and call an IALVS low vision optometrist today. 516-712-6002.

 

April 2016 – Lower Risk of Macular Degeneration

You may want salmon, mackerel, herring or tuna on your menu at least once a week if you want to reduce your risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Researchers at Brigham and Women” s Hospital and Harvard Medical School followed up on 38,022 women during the 10 years after data had been collected on them for the Women’s Health Study.

After adjustments for factors including age, they found that women who consumed the most DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish) had a 38 percent lower risk of developing AMD than those who consumed the lowest amount of DHA. They found similar results for EPA, another omega-3 fatty acid, as well as for consumption of both acids together.

Low Vision Optometrists who are members of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists are trained to assist those with vision loss in a variety of ways including nutritional counseling. They agree with the study, having one or more servings of fish per week produced a 42 percent lower risk of AMD, compared with less than one serving per month. Canned tuna and dark-meat fish were the primary types of fish that produced this lower risk.

The omega-6 fatty acids linoleic acid and arachidonic acid were also evaluated. Higher intake of linoleic acid, found in many fruit and vegetable oils such as safflower oil, grapeseed oil and corn oil, was associated with a higher risk of AMD, but not significantly so.

If you are unsure what to take, how much to take or how ofter, consult contact the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists today to find a Low Vision Optometrist in your area and schedule a phone consultation.

 

 

February 2016 – Peripheral Vision Loss (Tunnel Vision)

Does your lack of side vision leave you missing out?Afraid of accidents or walking into people?Concerned about your safety?There is help…Peripheral vision problems mean that you don’t have a normal, wide-angle field of vision, even though your central vision may be fine. Moderate and severe cases of peripheral vision loss create the sensation of seeing through a narrow tube, a condition commonly referred to as “tunnel vision.” Symptoms of peripheral vision loss also can include difficulty seeing in dim light and decreased ability to navigate while you are walking.

What Causes Peripheral Vision Loss?

A common cause of loss of peripheral vision (also called a peripheral field defect) is optic nerve damage from glaucoma. Eye “strokes” (occlusions) that block normal blood flow to the eye’s internal structures, including the optic nerve, also can lead to loss of peripheral vision. A stroke or injury also may damage portions of the brain where images are processed, leading to blind spots in the visual field.

Basic causes of peripheral vision loss include:

· Glaucoma· Retinitis pigmentosa· Eye strokes or occlusions· Detached retina· Brain damage from stroke, disease or injury· Neurological damage such as from optic neuritis· Compressed optic nerve head (papilledema)· Concussions (head injuries)*If you suspect you have lost peripheral vision, Schedule an appointment with an International Academy Of Low Vision Specialists Optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam that includes visual field testing. Side Vision Awareness glasses may the solution. Side Vision Awareness Glasses™ (SVAG) were developed by Dr. Errol Rummel of Jackson, NJ, after years of treating people with stroke-related,or brain injury related hemianopsia (side vision loss). Dr. Rummel is Director of the Low Vision Care Center, Jackson, NJ, is the Director of the Neuro-optometric Rehabilitation Clinic at the Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation, Pomona, NJ. And is a Fellow of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists.

http://www.sidevisionawarenessglasses.com/

 

 

January 2016 – Exercise for People Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

People with low vision can be active in many ways! Before you start an exercise routine, however, talk with your medical doctor and your eye doctor, since bending, lifting, or rapid movement can affect some medical and eye conditions.

Sometimes the rules are modified, sometimes adaptive techniques are used, and other times adaptive equipment may be required. It is important to continue to exercise.

If you have lost vision from

  • Macular Degeneration
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa
  • Stargt’s Disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Stroke
  • Albanism

And want to remain active, consult an International Academy of Low Vision Specialists Optometrist today for a comprehensive low vision exam to determine the best and safest ways to remain active with low vision.

 

 

October 2015 – New Survey: Less than Half of United States Adults with Diabetes Understand Their Risk for Vision Loss

A new survey released this month by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. reveals that less than half of recently surveyed United States adults with diabetes recognize their risk for vision loss. Regeneron is a science-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, invents, develops, manufactures, and commercializes medicines for the treatment of serious medical conditions.

[Please note: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which commissioned this survey, is also the developer of the injectable drug EYLEA, approved by the FDA in 2014 for the treatment of diabetic macular edema.]

About the Survey

Excerpted from New Survey of U.S. Adults with Diabetes Reveals Less than Half Understand Their Risk for Vision Loss, via PR Newswire:

The Diabetes Eye Health Survey was conducted by Everyday Health, Inc., a provider of digital health and wellness solutions. Everyday Health, Inc. conducted a quantitative online survey among a representative sample of 1,074 U.S. adults diagnosed with diabetes, from August 4 – 17, 2015.

Less than one-fifth (18 percent) of respondents said they were familiar with diabetic macular edema (DME), a term that refers to swelling of the macula and is a complication of diabetic retinopathy, the most common diabetic eye disease.

The survey found that nearly one third (30 percent) of respondents reported they do not get an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam, a test that can help to detect DME and diabetic retinopathy.

Of those respondents who do not get an annual dilated eye exam, more than half (56 percent) were not aware that the exam is recommended by the National Eye Institute for people with diabetes or that it could help protect against vision loss associated with the disease.

“Getting an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam is a critical step that may help to prevent future vision loss by identifying issues early,” said Dr. Allen Ho, MD, FACS, Director of Retina Research, Wills Eye Hospital and Professor of Ophthalmology at Thomas Jefferson University. “These survey findings underscore the need for more awareness among the diabetes community about their risk for vision loss and what they can do help protect their vision.”

Additional findings from the online survey of 1,074 people living with diabetes include:

  • When thinking about diabetes complications, those surveyed said eye disease is the number two concern, behind cardiovascular disease.
  • Despite concerns, however, less than half (44 percent) of respondents said they were very knowledgeable about eye diseases that could result in vision loss.
  • Only one third (35 percent) of respondents said they were familiar with diabetic retinopathy, specifically.

About Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic Retinopathy

Although people with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts at a younger age and are twice as likely to develop glaucoma as people who do not have diabetes, the primary vision problem caused by diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of new cases of blindness and low vision in adults aged 20-65:

  • “Retinopathy” is a general term that describes damage to the retina.
  • The retina is a thin, light-sensitive tissue that lines the inside surface of the eye. Nerve cells in the retina convert incoming light into electrical impulses. These electrical impulses are carried by the optic nerve to the brain, which interprets them as visual images.
  • Diabetic retinopathy occurs when there is damage to the small blood vessels that nourish tissue and nerve cells in the retina.
  • “Proliferative” is a general term that means to grow or increase at a rapid rate by producing new tissue or cells. When the term “proliferative” is used in relation to diabetic retinopathy, it describes the growth, or proliferation, of abnormal new blood vessels in the retina. “Non-proliferative” indicates that this process is not yet occurring.
  • Proliferative diabetic retinopathy affects approximately 1 in 20 individuals with the disease.

Four Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

According to the National Eye Institute, diabetic retinopathy has four stages:

  • Mild non-proliferative retinopathy: At this early stage, small areas of balloon-like swelling occur in the retina’s tiny blood vessels.
  • Moderate non-proliferative retinopathy: As the disease progresses, some blood vessels that nourish the retina become blocked.
  • Severe non-proliferative retinopathy: Many more blood vessels become blocked, which disrupts the blood supply that nourishes the retina. The damaged retina then signals the body to produce new blood vessels.
  • Proliferative retinopathy: At this advanced stage, signals sent by the retina trigger the development of new blood vessels that grow (or proliferate) in the retina and the vitreous, which is a transparent gel that fills the interior of the eye. Because these new blood vessels are abnormal, they can rupture and bleed, causing hemorrhages in the retina or vitreous. Scar tissue can develop and can tug at the retina, causing further damage or even retinal detachment.

Diabetic Macular Edema

Diabetic macular edema [edema = a swelling or accumulation of fluid] (DME) can occur in people with diabetes when retinal blood vessels begin to leak into the macula, the part of the eye responsible for detailed central vision. These leakages cause the macula to thicken and swell, which, in turn, creates a progressive distortion of central vision.

Although this swelling does not always lead to severe vision loss or blindness, it can cause a significant loss of central, or detail, vision, and is the primary cause of vision loss in people with diabetic retinopathy. DME can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy, but it is more likely to occur as the disease progresses.

What is a Comprehensive Dilated Eye Examination?

A comprehensive dilated eye examination generally lasts between 30 and 60 minutes, and is performed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

September 2015 – Side Vision Awareness Glasses Help Those With Loss of Visual Field Due to Brain Injury

Hemianopsia and Neglect

Patients who have had a stroke or traumatic brain injury, may lose one half of their side vision to the right or left. This type of side vision loss is called” Hemianopsia” (hemi field loss). Patients who just have a hemianopsia are aware of the side vision loss and often can be easily taught to scan their eyes in the direction of the hemianopsia, in order to compensate for the field loss. This allows them to not miss things on the side of the hemianopsia.

“Neglect” is the inattention to, or lack of awareness of visual space to the right or left and is most often associated with a hemianopsia. The lesion in the brain causing neglect usually occurs in the right frontal-parietal lobe, resulting in a left side neglect. Some patients just have a hemianopsia with no neglect, but others may experience a lot of “neglect” and may be unaware that they can not see to the affected side.

Signs and Symptoms of Hemianopsia and Neglect

· Can not or does not readily/spontaneously scan into the area of the hemianopsia.

· Bumps into things on side of the hemianopsia but doesn’t learn to compensate for the problem

· Says doesn’t see out of the eye (on the side of the neglect)

· No awareness that a hemi field loss exists

· Misses parts of words on the side of the neglect when reading

· Misses parts of eye chart line on the side of the neglect

· Tendency to orient head or body turned away from the neglect, and the patient may ambulate/drift in direction away from the neglect.

Treatment for Hemianopsia

IALVS optometrists have successfully treated hundreds of patients who have hemianopsia. These custom made “Side Vision Awareness Glasses” allow an immediate increase of about 15° in side vision awareness. This helps reduce hemianopsia-related safety issues and enhances the patient’s performance of many activities of daily living. “Side Vision Awareness Glasses” were developed by, Dr. Errol Rummel, IALVS member.

July 2015 – Is Macular Degeneration Hereditary?

A patient called in to an IALVS doctor’s office concerned their mother lost vision from Macular Degeneration before she died and now that the patient was age 65, she was concerned she may get it.

There is an increased risk if a parent or sibling has the disease by three to four times. But the good news is there are things you can do to protect your eyesight, and a number of treatments that are available if you do happen to get it. Here’s what you should know.

What is AMD?

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 50, affecting about 10 million Americans.

AMD is a progressive eye disease that damages the macula, the part of the eye that allows us to see objects clearly, causing vision loss in the center of your vision. This affects the ability to read, drive, watch television and do routine daily tasks, but it does not cause total blindness.

There are two types of AMD — wet and dry.

Dry AMD, which affects about 90 percent of all people that have it, progresses slowly and painlessly over a period of years. Wet AMD is much more aggressive and can cause severe vision loss in a matter of weeks or months.

Factors that can increase your risk of getting AMD include age (60 and older); smoking; excessive exposure to sunlight especially if you have light-colored eyes; certain genetic components; a family history of AMD; high blood pressure; obesity; and being Caucasian.

For anyone over the age of 60, it’s a smart idea to get your eyes examined by an every year – especially if you are at a higher risk, or are showing symptoms of vision loss. Early signs may include shadowy areas in your central vision or unusually fuzzy or distorted vision. If you are experiencing any early signs, it is a good idea to have a specific low vision exam performed by an IALVS trained optometrist.

Preventing AMD

While there’s currently no cure for AMD, there are some things you can do if you’re high risk.

One option is to talk to your IALVS doctor about taking a daily dose of low vision vitamins and minerals known as AREDS — vitamins C and E, plus copper, lutein, zeaxanthin and zinc. Studies by the National Eye Institute have shown that AREDS can reduce the risk by about 25 percent that dry AMD will progress.

Other lifestyle adjustments that may help prevent or delay AMD include eating antioxidant-rich foods such as dark green, leafy vegetables, and cold-water fish for their omega-3 fatty acids; protecting your eyes from the sun by wearing UV protective sunglasses; controlling high blood pressure; exercising regularly; and if you smoke, quit.

 

June 2015 – What Factors Affect Road Test Results in Bioptic Drivers?

Article Abstract originally published on: medicalxpress.com

Bioptic telescopic devices attached to a pair of the glasses may permit driving with a special license by some people with decreased central vision but adequate peripheral vision. When they need to see more distant objects, drivers can tilt the head downward to obtain a telescopic view.

Forty-three states currently issue bioptic telescope licenses for appropriate candidates, after special training and testing. However, amid ongoing debate over these special licenses, there is little information on factors affecting driving performance or safety in bioptic drivers.

To address this issue, the researchers analyzed the results of Highway Patrol road tests in 74 Ohio drivers who received bioptic licenses, whether on their first test or on repeat testing. Participants were identified through the bioptic telescope driving program at Ohio State program, which trains about three-fourths of bioptic drivers statewide.

Previous driving experience—before telescopic lenses were needed—was the single strongest predictor of the road test results. “Forty-one percent of candidates without previous driving experience passed the Highway Patrol exam on the first attempt, compared to 81 percent of those with experience,” Dr Dougherty and colleagues write.

Hours of bioptic training were also a significant factor—candidates who needed more training actually performed worse on the road test. Median training time was 33 hours for candidates who failed at least one portion of the road test, compared to 17 hours for those who passed on their first attempt.

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If you are interested in learning more about bioptic telescopic glasses, bioptic training or if your state allows driving with bioptic telescopes, contact your IALVS low vision Optometrist today.

May 2015 – Helping a Loved One With Vision Loss

People who have vision loss commonly experience depression, anxiety, and confusion. The consequences of vision loss however, often extend beyond the person who has low vision. The family members, friends, and caregivers of people experiencing vision loss also are affected.

When a loved one becomes visually impaired, you are likely to feel overwhelmed. You also may experience a range of feelings, from sadness to guilt, and there are many day-to-day adjustments to make. You may find yourself putting aside your feelings and needs to focus on helping your loved one cope. Yet, in many cases, you may feel alone and at a loss about what to do or how to help.

You and your loved one are not alone. You may have been told “nothing more can be done,” but that simply is not true. Something can always be done.

Many people with low vision already have an eye doctor who is treating them for an eye disease such as macular degeneration, glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa or other genetic diseases. However, if your eye doctor doesn’t specialize in low vision, he or she may have only a limited knowledge of the many choices that exist in low vision aids and treatment options.

The International Academy of Low Vision Specialists consists of intensively trained Low Vision Optometrists that have extensive experience in providing customized low vision devices and low vision prescription glasses enabling patients to achieve maximum functional vision and independence.

Take the first step to a Better Life with Low Vision and call an IALVS low vision optometrist today. 516-712-6002.

April is Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month

The Optometrists at International Academy of Low Vision Specialists (IALVS) are dedicated to helping patients achieve and maintain good eye health. – especially during sports and outdoor recreation.

Tens of thousands of sports and recreation-related eye injuries occur each year. The good news is that 90 percent of serious eye injuries are preventable through use of appropriate protective eyewear. This month, the healthcare community is working to raise awareness of the importance of preventing and treating these eye injuries.

Protecting your eyes from injury is one of the most basic things you can do to keep your vision healthy throughout your lifetime. The proper eye protection is especially important if you are suffering from Low Vision. Often, such injuries are 100 percent preventable if the proper eye protection is worn.

If you suffer from Low vision, contact an IALVS Optometrist today for a low vision exam for an individualized recommendation to ensure the safety of your eyes.

March 2015 – Judy Dench – Macular Degeneration Can Affect Anyone

From People Magazine March 7, 2015 – She has been a big star for decades and is accustomed to being the main female lead in movies.

But sometimes Dame Judi Dench, 80, has much bigger scripts than her costars for another reason – her eyesight.

Dench, who revealed in 2012 that she suffers from macular degeneration that can lead to blindness, says that she has the typeface enlarged so she can read scripts.

“So, if six of us were coming in to read a sonnet they’d all have one piece of paper and I’d have two or three,” she tells PEOPLE in the magazine’s new issue.

Chuckling, she adds, “They’d think, ‘why does she have a bigger part?’ when it’s all the same!

While a diagnosis of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) can be devastating, like Judy, with proper diagnoses and treatment, you can still do the things you love.

February 2015 – National Low Vision Awareness Month – What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You

As you are reading this, you have probably taken for granted the ease with which you are reading. For those afflicted with “low vision” reading their computer screen is a difficult task, even after enlarging the text. According to IALVS, Low vision is defined as visual impairment that is not correctible through surgery, (such as conventional glasses, contact lenses, LASIK, or cataract surgery), which is reduced to the point of interfering with everyday tasks. Vision may be reduced from medical, congenital, or traumatic causes. According to The National Eye Institute, 2.9 million Americans currently suffer from some type of Low Vision ailment. Someone with Low Vision may be struggling to read this article, write, drive, or watch television.

Symptoms Most eye disease symptoms are painless and diseases may be advanced prior to any noticeable changes. However, when noticed, Low Vision is often characterized by partial sight, such as blurred vision, blind spots, or tunnel vision.

Early Detection Annual eye exams are necessary, partially due to the speed at which vision changes occur in seniors. In some conditions, it may be too late to prevent blindness if not seen annually. There are no cures for diseases such as Age-Related Macular Degeneration, meaning the damaged cells will not regenerate and it can only be treated but not cured.

Prevention One’s lifestyle can greatly affect vision degeneration. One can avoid smoking, exercise regularly, maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, eat a healthy diet rich in green leafy vegetables and fish, and limit exposure to UV and ‘blue lights’ rays – those from digital devices – as the damage from these waves are cumulative throughout your life. One should also be sure to use an Amsler Grid’ to monitor vision between exams and report any changes to your doctor immediately.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss among those 50 and older, is a disorder of the macula in which the central part of one’s vision is blocked (IALVS). Approximately 10 to 14 million are affected by AMD in the United States alone, according to The National Eye Institute. For those who have lost vision to AMD, Low Vision care will address the functional limitations and provide rehabilitation for patients with this visual disease. The Low Vision specialists will improve a person’s functioning by maximizing the remaining vision the person has.

February is dedicated to Low Vision Awareness, so please be sure to schedule an exam for you or your loved ones and ensure healthy eyesight for all well into the future.

January 2015 – Another Reason To Eat More Fish: Lower Risk of Macular Degeneration for Women

You may want salmon, mackerel, herring or tuna on your menu at least once a week if you want to reduce your risk for age-related macular degneration (AMD).

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School followed up on 38,022 women during the 10 years after data had been collected on them for the Women’s Health Study.

After adjustments for factors including age, they found that women who consumed the most DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish) had a 38 percent lower risk of developing AMD than those who consumed the lowest amount of DHA. They found similar results for EPA, another omega-3 fatty acid, as well as for consumption of both acids together.

Low Vision Optometrists who are members of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists are trained to assist those with vision loss in a variety of ways including nutritional counseling. They agree with the study, having one or more servings of fish per week produced a 42 percent lower risk of AMD, compared with less than one serving per month. Canned tuna and dark-meat fish were the primary types of fish that produced this lower risk.

The omega-6 fatty acids linoleic acid and arachidonic acid were also evaluated. Higher intake of linoleic acid, found in many fruit and vegetable oils such as safflower oil, grapeseed oil and corn oil, was associated with a higher risk of AMD, but not significantly so.

If you are unsure what to take, how much to take or how ofter, consult contact the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists today to find a Low Vision Optometrist in your area and schedule a phone consultation.

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A special thanks to our Low Vision organization, The International Academy Of Low Vision Specialists http://ialvs.com/ialvs-blog/ for the content of these blog posts.