Envision Urges Eyecare Professionals and Patients: Dedicate Every Month of the Year to Low Vision Awareness

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Leading Midwest Organization Serving Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Advocates Year-Round Goal of Breaking Down Barriers to a Better Quality of Life

technology, blind, "vision loss", "vision impairment", "low vision", rehabilitation, disability

A diagnosis of vision impairment needn't mean sacrificing doing what you love. Low vision experts can discuss a variety of technologies and strategies to help restore or maintain quality of life.

Too often, the discussion ends with the vision practitioner advising the patient that nothing further can be done. We must make more people aware of the options they have through low vision rehabilitation.

Throughout the year, there are a variety of eye health observances – the most recent being February’s Low Vision Awareness Month – that put a temporary spotlight on eye health. Efforts to publicize the causes, preventative measures, challenges and treatment options tied to vision loss and impairment, however, should not have start or end dates, according to Envision, a leading Midwest organization dedicated to inspiring and improving the quality of life of individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

“Four weeks in February, for example, is too short a period to bridge the gap between an eye disease diagnosis and rehabilitation,” says Heather Hogan, Senior Vice President for Foundation and Mission Services at Envision. “Too often, the discussion ends with the vision practitioner advising the patient that nothing further can be done. That’s simply not the case, and we must maintain a year-round offensive to make more people aware of the options they have through low vision rehabilitation.”

Envision’s goal is to alleviate the disconnect that prevents many eye care professionals and patients today from recognizing the breadth of existing strategies available. To that end, the organization offers these tips for living well after a diagnosis of vision loss or impairment:

  • Don’t assume a diagnosis of vision loss means you must sacrifice your independence or doing the things that you love. Help is available for people with visual impairments brought on by many common eye diseases, including: diabetic retinopathy; age related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, cataracts and glaucoma.
  • Talk to your eye doctor about low vision rehabilitation as soon as possible. Whether you’ve suffered a loss of vision in the past or are told to expect deterioration of your vision in the future, an early referral for low vision rehabilitation can help minimize the negative impact on your daily life. Low vision rehabilitation teaches ways to “see past” a vision disability and builds self-sufficiency through orientation and mobility training, occupational and physical therapy, Braille, behavioral health and assistive technology instruction and other measures. The Envision Vision Rehabilitation Center in Wichita has partners throughout the country and can connect people who can’t get to Wichita with low vision rehabilitation services in their area. More information is available at envisionus.com or by calling (866) 319-4646.
  • Arrange a personal home visit by an orientation and mobility specialist. Orientation and mobility training can teach you how to safely move around your home without assistance and get to and from other common destinations, such as public transportation stops, your workplace, the grocery store, mall and more.
  • Shop for products customized for people with vision impairments and learn about assistive technology. From phones and clocks with enlarged numbers and bright displays to labeling accessories to reflective products and more, there are an array of adaptive devices on the market that contribute to independent living. An understanding of assistive technology can help you gain or retain access to computers, keep competitive in the workforce and tap into the many resources the internet has to offer.
  • Seek out programs and groups participated in by others who are blind or visually impaired. The experiences will yield valuable support, a new social network, a more robust life and possibly some new tricks for besting your challenges.

“The prevalence of low vision and blindness diagnoses are rapidly increasing. If not already, the odds are high that you or one of your family members, neighbors, co-workers or friends will be impacted by loss of sight,” says Hogan. “I encourage individuals and organizations everywhere to take action and join us in making life-altering low vision rehabilitation services a priority in our communities. It’s our duty to ensure that people with visual impairments have the same opportunities as anyone else to enjoy the world around them and lead fulfilled lives.”

A video with more information on Envision and its services can be viewed here.

About Envision: Envision promotes advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision. Founded in 1933, Envision is one of the largest employers of individuals with vision loss in the nation. Headquartered in Wichita, Kan., Envision’s mission is to improve the quality of life and provide inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research. For more information, visit http://www.envisionus.com.

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