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Richard’s Almanac: An eye on vision

COURTESY PHOTO
COURTESY PHOTO

The Senior Center is planning a “Low Vision Program” for the fall.

Director Laurie Fanelli tells me that she’s working with the Helen Keller Services for the Blind to get the program set up here. It’s designed for individuals with a variety of age-related eye problems.

I had a recent experience with a very common vision problem — a cataract. This is a blurring of the eye’s natural lens. The eye surgeon removes it and replaces it with a new lens. I kept putting off my surgery until it became almost impossible to drive in bright sun or at night. The surgery was simple and the results are fantastic.

Another cause of low vision is glaucoma. This is caused by elevated pressure inside the eyeball. Peripheral vision is affected and it becomes very difficult to see in poor light. I learned that when diagnosed early, glaucoma can be successfully managed with medication.

According to CDC statistics, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among older Americans. It is caused by a deterioration of the macula — the small central area of the retina that controls visual acuity. The resulting loss of central vision affects reading and driving.

Diabetes can also have a negative affect on vision. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the disease damages the tiny blood vessels in the retina.

Laurie suggests that persons with low vision issues take common sense precautions. Make sure that dark areas of your home are well lit and that night lights are always used. Improve close up vision with bright reading lights. Wear sunglasses to protect eyes from glare. Borrow large-print books from the library.

The Shelter Island Library has an extensive collection including new fiction and non-fiction. I used them frequently before my cataract surgery.

The Senior Center hopes to acquire the following low-vision aids for the elderly who could benefit from them. There is the Maxi-Aids television screen enlarger. A Mighty bright rigid page magnifier helps with reading.

The fulcrum magnifier floor lamp also makes reading more pleasurable. There’s an EZ-Fill liquid level indicator and a talking digital cooking thermometer.

So if you are interested, call the Senior Center at (631) 749 1059 to become part of the program.