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The Impact of Visual Impairment on Quality of Life

EyeA study (in Iran) analyzed the impact that blindness (80% of study participants) and visual impairment (20%) have on one's quality of life (QOL).  Here is a summary of the findings:
  • Men had a higher QOL than women
  • Married people had a higher QOL than single people
  • Employed people had a higher QOL than unemployed people
  • The higher the level of education, the higher the QOL
  • Self care QOL:  Most people had "completely desirable" scores
  • Leisure QOL:  The majority (64%) had undesirable scores
  • Mobility QOL:  86% had desirable or higher scores
  • Social QOL:  Nearly half had undesirable scores
  • Emotional QOL:  99% had desirable or higher scores

The Impact of Visual Impairment on Quality of Life

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How Many People In The World Are Blind, And Why?

World map of blindness38 million people globally are blind.  A further 110 million are visually impaired, with many of those at great risk for becoming blind.  Here are the main causes of blindness:
  • cataract
  • trachoma
  • glaucoma
  • onchocerciasis
  • xerophthalmia
  • diabetic retinopathy
  • age-related macular degeneration
Trends, particularly the aging global population, indicate that the incidences of blind and low vision are likely to increase substantially in coming decades.

Global data on blindness

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May Is Healthy Vision Month

Woman getting eye examMay, this month, is Healthy Vision Month.  So, if you haven't had an eye exam in a while, this would be an excellent time to schedule one.

Also, if you're wondering what you can do to enhance your eye health, here are some great ideas:
  1. Get regular eye exams
  2. Know your family’s eye health history
  3. Eat healthy, especially fruits and veggies
  4. Keep a healthy weight
  5. Wear protective eyewear
  6. Quit smoking
  7. Wear sunglasses
  8. Wash your hands when touching your contact lenses, and keep the contacts clean
  9. Practice workplace eye safety
Healthy Vision Month

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Posted in Blindness and Society | View Post

5 Diseases Which Can Cause Blindness

Man getting eye examHere are the 5 diseases which most often lead to vision loss or blindness:
  1. Diabetic retinopathy
  2. Age-related macular degeneration
  3. Cataracts
  4. Glaucoma
  5. Eye injury or trauma

5 Diseases That Can Lead to Blindness

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7 Ways To Prevent Blindness

UV Protective SunglassesMore than half of vision impairment cases can be prevented.  Here are seven things you can do to prevent blindness:
  1. Quit smoking
  2. Receive regular eye exams
  3. Maintain healthy blood sugar levels
  4. Eat lot of fruits and vegetables
  5. Use protective eyewear
  6. Protect your eyes from UV radiation and sunlight
  7. Know your family's history of eye conditions or vision loss
What are the causes of blindness?

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Posted in Eye Health and Preventing Disease | View Post

Panoptix Trifocal Lens For Cataracts - 5 Important Things To Know

Woman trying on eyeglasses at an examTraditional cataract surgery replaces your cataract with synthetic lenses which are monofocal or bifocal.  More recently, trifocal lenses have been introduced.  However, there are issues with these lenses, including insufficient light and image quality.

Now there's a better alternative: Panoptix trifocal lenses.  Here are the key things you should consider:
  1. Know what PanOptix Trifocal Lenses Are:  Panoptix lenses are artificial lenses that are surgically implanted to replace the patient's cataract.  They restore normal vision when natural lenses, cataracts, become cloudy or impair the patient's vision significantly.
  2. Panoptix incorporates 3 distinct vision distances:  far, intermediate, and near vision.
  3. Benefits of the PanOptix Trifocal Lens include:  Better protection from ultraviolet and blue light, better image quality, and better near and intermediate vision - without the need for reading glasses.
  4. The FDA approved PanOptix Trifocal Lens in 2019
  5. You should determine if PanOptix Trifocal Lenses are right for you by consulting with your ophthalmologist or optometrist.

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Posted in Eye Disease - Cataracts | View Post

The Single Best Thing You Can Do For Your Eyes

/Eyeglasses on an eye chartThe best thing you can do for the health of your eyes is to get a dilated eye exam.  When done early, this exam can detect eye issues and diseases early on, while treatment is easier and more effective, and before you start to lose your vision.

Your eye doctor can easily check you for nearsightedness or farsightedness.  After dilating your eyes (actually, the pupils.) with a few drops of fluid, they can then check for various eye diseases, even before symptoms begin to show.

Get a Dilated Eye Exam

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9 Tips For Enjoying Museums With Low Vision

Sun iconGoing to a museum is typically rewarding and educational.  But it can be a bit frustrating if you are visually impaired.  Here are 9 tips to make the most of your museum experiences:
  1. Go with a Friend -- who can help you with reading signs, locating items, and navigating
  2. Ask for a large print guide
  3. Seek disability-specific museum tours
  4. Ask about flashing lights or loud noises
  5. IMAX/Museum Shows - ask about descriptive audio devices
  6. Look for interactive exhibits
  7. Ask about audio tours - usually free
  8. Minimize the likelihood of getting lost - by getting a large print map, and asking for help
  9. Use online tours
How Do People with Low Vision . . . Go To Museums?

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Blind Golf

Blind golfer with coachYes, blind people can play golf.  In fact, the rules are almost identical to regular golf.  Here are some of the key differences.  A blind golfer can:
  • Have a coach or guide stand on the line of the shot while the shot is being played
    • The coach verbally describes the hole, assists in choosing the right club, and aligns the club head behind the ball
  • Ground their club in a sand trap or other hazard
Blind golf is played in 15 countries, including the US.  The IBGA World Blind Golf Championships is held every every two years.

Blind Golf

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5 Travel Options For Those Who Are Blind Or Visually Impaired

Pedestrian with long white caneIf you are blind or visually impaired, travel can be a challenge.  Here are five choices for you:
  1. Use another person to guide you
  2. Use a white cane
  3. Use a guide dog or service dog
  4. Use optical or electronic aids
  5. Use no help
Travel Tools and Techniques of People Who are Blind or Who Have Low Vision

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Posted in Adapting and Emotions - Living with Vision Loss | View Post

9 Best Restaurants That Simulate Blindness

Couple dining blindfoldedDining in complete darkness enables you to appreciate your food on a whole new level, relying exclusively on your senses of taste, smell, and feel.  Some of these restaurants are staffed entirely with people who are blind or visually impaired.  Some let you guess what your food is without seeing it.  All provide memorable experiences.
  1. Dans Le Noir: London, UK
  2. BLACKOUT Dining in the Dark Las Vegas: Las Vegas, NV
  3. Dining in the Dark Experience: various cities, including San Diego, CA
  4. Opaque – Santa Monica: Santa Monica, CA
  5. The Blind Cafe: tours internationally, including Boulder, CO August 18-20, 2023
  6. Abigail’s Kitchen: New York, NY
  7. The Blindekuh: Zurich and Basel, Switzerland
  8. Dining in the Dark KL – Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  9. Dialogo nel Buio – Milan, Milan, Italy
9 Dining in the Dark Restaurants Where You’re Totally Blind

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3 Types Of Cataract Surgery

Patient getting eye examThese are the 3 main types of surgery for cataracts:
  1. Phacoemulsification:  Breaks up cataracts using high-frequency ultrasound.
  2. Femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery (FLACS):  A more expensive option, this uses lasers to perform initial incisions, open the lens capsule and dissect the lens.
  3. Extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE):  After making a small incision, the surgeon removes the cataract, usually as a whole, and possibly with additional small pieces being removed through suction.
There Are Three Types of Cataract Surgery. Which is Right for You?

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Posted in Eye Disease - Cataracts | View Post

Top 10 Benefits of Being Blind or Visually Impaired

Benefits Of Being BlindYes, there are definitely a bunch of good things about being blind or having low vision.  Here are the top 10:
  1. The Community
  2. Taking Your Dog with you everywhere
  3. Never have to be the designated driver  
  4. Travel perks & Discounts
  5. Unique View of the World 
  6. Read in the dark
  7. No need to worry if the lights go out!
  8. People more willing to help you
  9. Better Listener
  10. Don’t Judge a Book by its cover

The Benefits of Being Blind or Visually Impaired

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5 Tips For Parenting A Blind Child

Family with blind babyBeing a parent is never easy, but doing so with a child who is blind can be especially challenging - and rewarding.  Here are five tips to help in raising a blind child:
  1. Find Support
  2. Read Some Articles
  3. Join Some Organizations
  4. Educate Your Family
  5. Take a Break!
Raising a Blind Child

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Posted in Parenting and Blindness | View Post

11 Hints to Prevent Vision Loss

doctor performing eye examKeep your eyes safe and vision intact with these helpful hints:
  1. Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam
  2. Maintain your blood sugar levels
  3. Know your family’s eye health history
  4. Eat right to protect your sight
  5. Maintain a healthy weight
  6. Wear protective eyewear
  7. Quit smoking or never start
  8. Be cool and wear your shades
  9. Give your eyes a rest
  10. Clean your hands and your contact lenses—properly
  11. Practice workplace eye safety
Tips to Prevent Vision Loss

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Posted in Eye Health and Preventing Disease | View Post

8 Great Books About Blindness

Open bookIf you want some ideas to add to your reading list, here are eight fiction and nonfiction books about blindness which make for great reading:

1.     All the Light We Cannot See  
2.     The Story of My Life – Helen Keller Autobiography
3.     Molly Burke Autobiography
4.     Lion’s Story by Roy Kumpe
5.     Now I see You
6.     Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero
7.     The Unseen Trail
8.     Touch the Top of the World

Top 8 Books About Blindness

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Useful Webinars For Finding Employment As A Person With Vision Loss

WebinarMississippi State University's Navigate Rehabilitation and Transition to Careers offers a number of useful webinars to help those who are blind or visually impaired find meaningful employment.

Here are a few of the free webinars they offer:
  1. Linking Up with LinkedIn to Increase Employment Opportunities
  2. Who Needs to Know?: When and How to Disclose Vision Impairment
  3. Navigating the VR System: Services are Better When We Work Together
Employment Insights: Helping you Navigate Rehabilitation and Transition to Careers

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9 Fun Recreational Activities For The Blind

Blind GamerLosing one's sight doesn't mean losing the ability to have fun.  Here are some recreational options for those with blindness or low vision.  Some incorporate large print, Braille or audio.
  1. Books and magazines
  2. Cards, chess and other games
  3. Cooking
  4. Crafts
  5. Exercising
  6. Gardening
  7. Music
  8. Radio, television and the Internet
  9. Telephone services
Vision loss - recreational activities

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45 Great Toys For Kids Who Are Blind Or Visually Impaired

Bubble Sensory Fidget ToyHere are some excellent toys for blind children:
  1. Bubble Sensory Fidget Toy
  2. Fat Brain Toys Dimpl Duo
  3. Yoto Player
  4. Brio Magnetic Blocks
  5. Braille ABC Wooden Blocks
  6. TickiT Silicone Blocks
  7. TickiT Sensory Blocks
  8. SmartNoggin NogginStik Rattle
  9. Learning Resources Fine Motor Hedgehog
  10. Battat Shape Sorter
  11. Melissa and Doug Poke-a-Dot Books
  12. Bright Starts Press and Glow Spinner
  13. Laugh and Learn Magic Color Mixing Bowl
  14. Glo Pals Light Up Water Toys
  15. Fat Brain Toys SpinAgain Stacking Toy
  16. Intock Magnetic Blocks
  17. Playskool Busy Ball Popper
  18. Infantino Press and Stay Sensory Blocks
  19. Never Touch a Spider! Board Book
  20. DK Braille: Animals
  21. DK Braille: Farm
  22. DK Braille: On the Move
  23. DK Braille: Shapes
  24. SENSEational Alphabet Book
  25. TouchThinkLearn: Shapes Board Book
  26. Educational Insights Shapes Beanbags
  27. Educational Insights Touchable Textures
  28. Kid O Free Play Magnatab
  29. TouchThinkLearn: Numbers Board Book
  30. Learning Resources Ruff’s House Tactile Set
  31. Melissa and Doug Shopping Cart
  32. PlanToys Braille Alphabet
  33. PlanToys Rhythm Box
  34. Polk BOOM Swimmer Jr Waterproof Speaker
  35. Rockabye Plush Rockers
  36. Sensory Balls
  37. Starfish Suction Bath Toys
  38. Oball Wobble Bobble Ball
  39. TouchThinkLearn: Opposites Board Book
  40. TwiddleNathan Fidget Toy
  41. Wooden Balance Board
  42. Wooden Shape Puzzles
  43. Flyerstoy 3-in-1 Swing
  44. Little Tikes First Slide
  45. Melissa and Doug Braille Shapes Puzzle

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Posted in Assistive and Vision Loss Technology and Products | View Post

Surgeon Operates On 8 Patients - While Blind!

Newspaper article about blind surgeonBack in 1980 Dr. John Bongiovanni was in a car accident.  Unfortunately, he lost his eyesight.  Six months later, he returned to work at A. Barton Hepburn Hospital in Ogdensburg, NY.  Even though he was blind, Dr. Bongiovanni did bladder, prostate, and urinary operations on eight patients.  During the operations, he was advised by other doctors and nurses on decisions requiring eyesight.

Three years later, the state board of regents found Dr. Bongiovanni guilty of medical misconduct and and removed most of his ability to practice medicine in the state.

Dr. John Bongiovanni, the blind surgeon

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Blind and Visually Impaired African-American Leaders

Harriet TubmanHere are some African-American leaders who happen to be blind or visually impaired:
  • Harriet Tubman:  She pioneered the Underground Railroad and freed over 300 slaves.
  • Dr. William Townsend:  He was the first licensed black optometrist and a Civil Rights leader in Arkansas
  • Martha Louise Morrow Fox:  She taught at Piney Woods Country Life School, the first school in Mississippi that taught Black blind students.
  • Haben Girma:  She was the first deafblind student to attend and graduate from Harvard Law School. 

Celebrating Black History Month | Blind and Visually Impaired Leaders in History and Today

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Great Jobs For Blind People

Visually impaired woman working at computerPeople who are blind or visually impaired can do almost any job, but here are some of the best choices:
  • Teachers, college professors and guidance counselors
  • Social workers and psychologists
  • Doctors, nurses and occupational and physical therapists
  • Masseuses and chiropractors
  • Rehabilitation teachers and counselors
  • Customer service representatives
  • Restaurant and store workers
  • Factory workers
  • Freelance writers, journalists and TV and radio broadcasters
  • DJs and musicians
  • Attorneys, judges and politicians
  • Executive directors and managers
  • Coaches and athletes
  • Authors and motivational speakers
  • Chefs
  • Architects
  • Researchers, engineers and scientists
  • Artists and photographers
What Kinds of Jobs do People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Do?

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Emotionally Adjusting To Vision Loss

Living With Vision LossResearch has shown that when someone loses some or all of their vision, there are seven distinct phases of emotional adjustment that they typically go through:
  1. Phase One: Trauma
  2. Phase Two: Shock and Denial
  3. Phase Three: Mourning and Withdrawal
  4. Phase Four: Succumbing and Depression
  5. Phase Five: Reassessment and Reaffirmation
  6. Phase Six: Coping and Mobilization
  7. Phase Seven: Self-Acceptance and Self-Esteem
The Process of Adjusting to Vision Loss

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Your Eyes Can Display Signs Of Alzheimer’s

Open eyeNew research shows that your eyes can aide doctors in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, even before other symptoms appear.  By looking into the optic nerve and retina, doctors can potentially identify Alzheimer's years before they might otherwise, permitting early intervention and treatment that could forestall the onset of serious symptoms involving memory and behavior.  It also gives the patient time to opt for healthier lifestyle choices, particularly diet, which can affect the course of the disease.

Alzheimer’s first signs may appear in your eyes, study finds

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How You Can Adapt To Vision In Only One Eye

Women with vison in one eyeIf you have monocular vision -- in only one eye -- perhaps from an injury or illness, here are some of the ways you can cope:
  • Ensure that paths around your home are kept clear
  • Periodically feel for objects, walls, etc. to get a better sense of your location
  • Turn your head frequently from side to side to get a better picture of your surroundings
  • Place colored tape at the edge of stairs
  • Use handrails when possible
  • Practice reaching for different objects to get a better idea of their distance from you
  • Turn your head from side to side to expand your field of vision
  • Walk on a straight line to improve your balance
  • Play catch with someone
  • Improve lighting in your home
  • Better organize your home and ensure everything is in its prescribed place
  • Learn to recognize the shapes and sizes of items and objects you use frequently
  • Store all meds in one place; ensure that their labels are easy to read
  • Use caulking, raised rubber, or plastic dots to mark the settings on the controls of your microwave,  stove, oven, and toaster, so you're able to determine the setting even if you're having difficulty seeing it
Coping With Living With One Eye

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Study Shows Behavioral Effects of Permanent Cortical Visual Impairment On Children

Child getting eye examPermanent cortical visual impairment (CVI) causes visual impairment.  According to a study in Development Medicine & Child Neurology, children with CVI typically display these behavioral characteristics:
  • Residual vision
  • Inconsistent visual performance
  • Better vision in familiar surroundings
  • Use of touch to identify objects
  • Better ability to identify colors than form
  • Poor head elevation, especially in those with the most visual impairment

Behavioural Characteristics Of Children With Permanent Cortical Visual Impairment

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What Are The Most Common Types Of Vision Problems?

EyeHere are the most common vision problems in adults:
  • Blurred vision (called refractive errors)
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataract
  • Diabetic retinopathy
Here are the most common vision problems in children:
  • Blurred vision (called refractive errors)
  • Crossed eyes (called strabismus)
  • Lazy eye (called amblyopia)
Here are the most common blurred vision problems (also called refractive errors):
  • Nearsightedness (called myopia) is when you can see clearly up close but blurry in the distance.
  • Farsightedness (called hyperopia) is when you can see clearly in the distance but blurry up close.
  • If you are older than 40 and have trouble reading small print or focusing up close, this is usually due to a condition called presbyopia. One in every three people 40 years or older in the U.S. will need glasses to read smaller print.
  • Astigmatism is another condition that causes blurred vision, but it is because of the shape of the cornea.
Types of Vision Problems

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How Can Schools Accommodate The Needs Of Blind And Visually Impaired Students?

Girl studentFrom elementary school through university, here are some of the accommodations schools can -- and in some cases do -- make for students who are blind or visually impaired:
  • Notes, handouts, and texts distributed in tape, braille, or electronic format
  • Verbal descriptions of visual aids
  • Raised-line drawings and tactile models of graphic materials
  • Braille lab signs and equipment labels; auditory lab warning signals
  • Adaptive lab equipment (e.g., talking thermometers, talking calculators, light probes, and tactile timers)
  • Computer with screen reader (e.g., JAWS), vocal output, braille screen display and printer output
What are typical accommodations for students with blindness?

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Blindness Conferences in California

ConferenceHere are some of the conferences in California in the next 12 months which deal with blindness and visual impairment:

CSUN 2023 Assistive Technology Conference:  Anaheim, CA, March 13 - 17, 2023

California Council of the Blind Conference and Convention, Hilton Sacramento Arden West, Sacramento, 3/31 - 4/2/2023

CTEBVI conference:  San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront, April 20-23, 2023

California Council of the Blind 85th Annual Conference and Convention:  DoubleTree by Hilton Fresno Convention Center, 2233 Ventura Street, Fresno, CA, June 5 - 9, 2023

Abilities Expo Los Angeles:  Los Angeles Convention Center, March 15-17, 2024

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A Bionic Eye is Now A Reality!

diabetic retinopathyScientists in at least 7 companies, including 2 in the U.S., have begun implanting retinal prostheses in individuals with eye disorders like retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration, but only when the optic nerve and visual cortex are unaffected.

These "bionic eyes" enable the patient to see by stimulating the sensation of vision in their eyes.  In these patients, the outer cells of the retina are typically damaged, but the inner cells may be fully or partially intact.  Therefore, these optical prostheses essentially bypass the outer cells and transmit signals directly to the inner cells, enabling the patient to see.

Of the 7 companies offering such a solution, none has implanted their device in more than 30 patients - a title held by Sylmar, CA-based Second Sight Medical Products - so these products are still in their infancy.  However, there is much promise for the future.

Retina Prosthesis

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How To Travel Well If You Are Blind

airplane passengerIf you are blind or visually impaired, here are several options for how to travel by plane or other means:
  • Use a human guide, usually by holding their arm
  • Use a white cane, especially to detect and avoid obstacles
  • Use a service dog
  • Use assistive aids, usually optical or electronic aids
  • Use no aids at all
Your selection of one of those options typically relies on:
  • How visually impaired you are
  • Your familiarity with the route you are traveling
  • Lighting conditions
  • Your own preferences
Travel Tools and Techniques of People Who are Blind or Who Have Low Vision

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7 Amazing Blind People

Architecture by Christopher DowneyRead profiles of these 7 amazing, inspirational blind people:
  1. The First Blind Athlete in the Olympics
  2. The Blind Surfer
  3. The Blind Painter
  4. The Blind NASCAR driver
  5. The Blind Chef
  6. The Blind Photographer
  7. The Blind Architect

7 Amazing Blind People

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7 Amazing Blind People - #1
The First Blind Athlete in the Olympics

Marla Runyan - runnerMarla Runyan contracted Stargardt's Disease at 9 years old.  This type of macular degeneration caused her to become legally blind.  Nevertheless, she became a standout track and field athlete, first at San Diego State University in 1987, later in the1992 Summer Paralympics in Barcelona, and then at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta where she earned silver in the shot put and gold in the pentathlon.

She blossomed out of paralympic competitions to win gold in the 1,500 meters at the )able-bodied) Pan American Games in 1999.  At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Runyan became the first legally blind athlete ever to compete in the Olympics, finishing eighth in the 1,500 meters -- the best finish by an American woman ever in that event.

7 Amazing Blind People

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7 Amazing Blind People - #2
The Blind Surfer

Derek Rabelo - surferDerek Rabelo was born with congenital glaucoma. Despite that, when Derek was only three he got his first taste of surfing.  He became hooked, and now the Brazilian is an avid surfer.

At age 20 he went with his church to surfing mecca Hawaii, where he honed his skills.  Derek is the inspiration behind the 2014 documentary film "Beyond Sight," which earned an admirable rating of 8.5/10 from IMDb.

7 Amazing Blind People

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7 Amazing Blind People - #3
The Blind Painter

Blind painterJohn Bramblitt became completely blind at age 30 in 2001.  His vision loss stemmed from epilepsy.  However, John found an outlet for his pain through, of all things, painting!  He actually paints using his sense of touch.  He can feel the difference between different colors.  Among his artistic accolades is YouTube's "Most Inspirational Video of 2008", as well as three Presidential Service Awards.

7 Amazing Blind People

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7 Amazing Blind People - #4
The Blind NASCAR Driver

2 NASCAR cars on racetrackMark Anthony Riccobono is blind.  At 5 years old he had only 1% of normal vision, and it continued to deteriorate.

Nevertheless, in January 2011 Mark achieved something many sighted people can only dream of - driving a Ford Escape solo around the NASCAR track at Daytona International Speedway!

Mark used two technologies to enable him to safely complete this mission.  First, DriveGrip, which is a pair of  gloves which send vibrations over the driver's knuckles to tell him how much to turn the wheel.  Second, SpeedStrip, which is a a cushion down the back and legs of the driver which tell him how much to accelerate.

7 Amazing Blind People

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7 Amazing Blind People - #5
The Blind Chef

Chef preparing breadChef Christine Hà got a diagnosis of neuromyelitis optica  in 2004.  She then began losing her sight, and was legally blind 3 years later.

Anyone who loses one sense becomes more reliant on their other senses.  This is especially true for a chef.  Christine learned to use her senses of taste, smell, and even feel to cook even more than before to create amazing dishes.  In 2012 she won the MasterChef TV Show, including a $250,000 prize. plus a deal to create a cookbook.

7 Amazing Blind People

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7 Amazing Blind People - #6
The Blind Photographer

Photographer from the rearPete Eckert became blind as an adult with retinitis pigmentosa.  He didn't let that interfere with his passion for photography, sculpture, and industrial design.  After losing his sight he actually expanded his art, shooting ethereal double exposures and vivid light paintings with his Mamiyaflex TLR. camera.  Since he was once sighted, h can visualize the image he wants to create in his mind and uses his other senses of sound, touch, and memory to make a photograph. "I am a visual person. I just can't see," he says.

7 Amazing Blind People

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7 Amazing Blind People - #7
The Blind Architect

Architecture by Christopher DowneyIn 2008, Christopher Downey completely lost his sight due to a tumor wrapped around his optic nerve.  As an architect and architectural consultant, this could have marked the end of his career.  But Christopher turned the lemon into lemonade.  Working with a blind computer scientist who created method of printing online maps using a tactile printer, Christopher began designing buildings and environments which are sensitive to the needs of the blind and visually impaired.

Christopher and his work have recently been featured on CBS News and twice on 60 Minutes.

7 Amazing Blind People

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How And Why To Donate Used Eyeglasses

Eyeglasses on an eye chartIf you wear eyeglasses, you know how expensive the frames and lenses can be, even if you have vision insurance.  Not everyone can afford glasses.  So, when you get new glasses, donate your old ones, so that someone who cannot afford glasses can have them.  You already know the huge impact the right eyeglasses can have on your life.  And therefore one the life of someone less fortunate than you.

Here are some nonprofits and other organizations to donate glasses to:
  • Lions Club International
  • New Eyes
  • ReSpectacle
  • VSP Global Eyewear Donations
  • Goodwill
  • Warby Parker
  • The Salvation Army
Here are some bricks and mortar stores where you can drop off your used glasses:
  • Walmart Vision Centers
  • Lions Clubs
  • LensCrafters
  • Costco
  • Pearle Vision

Here are some national and international nonprofits which accept eyeglasses donations:
  • Optometry Cares
  • SEE International
  • Essilor Vision Foundation
  • Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity
  • RestoringVision

5 Ways (or Places) to Donate Your Old Glasses

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Posted in Resources for Blind and Visually Impaired | View Post

How To Provide Top Notch Service To Blind Customers

Blind man on speakerphoneIf you own or work for a company (or nonprofit), it's probably important to you to provide excellent customer service to all of your prospects and customers.  If you don't have a plan for how to provide great service to blind and visually impaired customers, You should.

Here are some key factors to consider in serving blind and visually impaired customers:
  1. Be Proactive:  Anticipate blind customers' needs and make plans to meet them.
  2. Ensure Accessibility:  Your website, social media, marketing materials, PDFs, and more should be accessible and ADA compliant.
  3. Train Your Customer Support Staff:  Provide your staff with training on how to be empathetic, patient, and effective in dealing with blind customers.
  4. Ask Customers What They Need:  The best way to know what any customer needs, especially a blind or visually impaired one, is to simply ask them!  Make sure your customer support staff know to do this - both during and after support is provided.
  5. Include the Visually Impaired in Marketing Materials:  Where possible, include photos of blind people and relevant text in marketing materials.

5 Ways to Help Your Company’s Visually Challenged Customers

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Posted in Advocacy for Vision Impaired | View Post

How Employers Should Treat Blind And Visually Impaired People

ConferenceThe Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people who are blind, visually impaired, or have other disabilities.  Here are some of its requirements:
  • Employers may not ask applicants about their vision or treatment
  • Applicants are not required to disclose visual impairments
  • After an employer has offered a job to an applicant, and the applicant discloses their vision impairment, the employer may then ask the applicant about their vision limitations and what accommodations they need
  • An employer may only ask an employee about their vision impairment when it knows about the impairment, observes performance issues, and believes those issues are related to the visual impairment
  • Employers must keep confidential any medical information it discovers about an applicant or employee

Blindness and Vision Impairments in the Workplace and the ADA

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Posted in Blindness and Society | View Post

The 4 Categories of Blindness

2 blind people with canes and a sighted personContrary to popular perception, there is a spectrum of different types of blindness.  Some people are completely blind, while others may be able to see some lights, shapes, or nearby objects.  The cause of blindness could stem from the eye or the brain.

Here are the 4 key types of blindness:
  1. CVI, or cortical/cerebral visual impairment, is the leading cause of modern day blindness in children.
  2. Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic disorder, which affects up to one in 4,000 people in the U.S.
  3. Macular degeneration is another one of the leading causes of vision loss, affecting an estimated 10 million people in the U.S.
  4. Retinopathy of prematurity is an eye disease which occurring in babies born prematurely.

Four prevalent, different types of blindness

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Posted in Eye Disease | View Post

Should Sighted People Simulate Blindness Through Blindfolds?

Blindfolded man - fuzzy imageWell-meaning sighted people sometimes will spend time blindfolded, simulating what it's like to be blind, in an effort to better understand blindness.  Sometimes these initiatives are personal, other times they are suggested by a teacher, trainer, speaker, etc.

Typically, when sighted people spend time blindfolded, and trying to live life as a blind person would, they gain a deeper empathy for blind people and some of the issues they face.  However, these simulations typically represent what it's like to BECOME blind much more than they represent what it's like to BE blind.

In order for such blindness simulations to minimize the negative effects, such as discrimination, and accentuate the positive effects, these experiences should include training on and some mastery of certain skills blind people require, and they should include meaningful interaction with people who are actually blind.

The Perils of Playing Blind: Problems with Blindness Simulation and a Better Way to Teach about Blindness

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Medical Breakthrough Restores Part Of Blind Man's Vision

EyeThe burgeoning field of optogenetics, using gene therapy to control nerve cells using light, has been successfully used to partially restore sight to a blind man.

As reported by the Nature Medicine journal, scientists reengineered eye cells to make them more sensitive to light.  Though it has only been done on one 58-year old male patient with retinitis pigmentosa, this technique shows promise in using gene therapy to help restore sight to other blind people.

Scientists partially restore blind man's vision with breakthrough gene therapy

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Posted in Research and Medical Advancements | View Post

#1 Cause of Blindness

Fuzzy image of girl reading with her dogThe leading cause of blindness throughout the world is cataracts.  Cataracts are also the leading cause of vision loss in the United States.  Cataracts cause a clouding of the eye's lens, and can occur at any age, including at birth.

There are readily available treatments for the removal of cataracts, but some people are unable to take advantage of these treatments due to lack of insurance coverage, cost of the treatment, lack of awareness of treatments, or simply the choice of the patient.

It is estimated that over 30 million Americans have cataracts.

Common Eye Disorders and Diseases

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Posted in Eye Disease - Cataracts | View Post

Blind People Actually Have Higher IQs!

Eye Health ResearchA study published July 3, 2020 and conducted in South Africa and Austria shows that blind people have an IQ 14 points higher than average, and visually impaired people scored 3 points higher.  The opposite result was found for verbal comprehension.  Several other studies confirm these results.

Blindness, or more specifically, the way individuals react to blindness by compensating for a lack of external information causes blind people to increase their internal, working memory.  Working memory has been shown to be critical for intelligence.  This further underscores the theory that working memory, and therefore intelligence, can be modified.

Does Blindness Boost Working Memory? A Natural Experiment and Cross-Cultural Study

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Posted in Research and Medical Advancements | View Post

Searching For A Job If You Are Blind

Anthony MelenaAnthony Melena graduated from UCLA in 2019, just before the pandemic, flush with the hope of finding the ideal job.  The fact that he was blind did not deter him.  After all, he had successfully graduated high school, gained admittance to the #1 public university in the country, and graduated from it.  Surely the UCLA moniker on his resume would open a lot of doors.

To one extent, it did,  Anthony got his share of interviews.  However, due to the pandemic, they were via Zoom - which made it easier for him to attend those interviews.  However, they failed to pan out, one by one.

Luckily, Anthony received training which made him realize a few key points.  He needed to realize that:
  1. He needed to sell himself as a complete package, not just a collection of skills.
  2. Who you know is often as important as what you know.
  3. He needed a support structure.
  4. He needed to work in his interview and human interaction skills.
Fortunately, Anthony now has a job he loves!

The missing piece in my job search puzzle

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Posted in Blindness and Society | View Post

How To Watch The Super Bowl If You Are Blind

Football on TV with snacks on coffee tableSome 100 million Americans will watch the upcoming Super Bowl 2/12 between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, taking place in Glendale, AZ.

Here are some hints on how to enjoy the game if you are blind:
  1. Turn on the TV (especially for others who are sighted or have partial vision), but use radio for the audio. especially play-by-play descriptions.  ESPN radio is a good choice.
  2. Search for descriptive video services such as Aira.
  3. Listen to pre-game and halftime entertainment, particularly concerts (Rihanna is the halftime performer) and the national anthem (country music star Chris Stapleton).
  4. Enjoy the party, snacks, and beverages!

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Posted in Adapting and Emotions - Living with Vision Loss | View Post

Top Ten Fun Facts About White Canes

White cane near feetWe've all seen people using white canes to get around.  But how much do we really know about them.  Here are 10 fun facts about white canes:
  1. You can take your white cane through TSA security at an airport, but it has to go through the X-ray machine.
  2. White canes were pioneered by George Bonham, who, in 1930, suggested painting canes used by blind people white with a red stripe so that motorists and others would better notice them.
  3. New technology embedded in white canes causes them to vibrate to warn users of nearby obstacles and hazards.
  4. In 1944 Richard Hoover created the method of of holding a long cane in the center of the body and swinging it back and forth before each step to detect obstacles.  This is still called the “Hoover Method.”
  5. Only 2 - 8% of visually impaired people use white canes. Others utilize their useable vision, a guide dog or a sighted guide.
  6. There are 3 kinds of white canes: a) Standard mobility cane, used to navigate; b) Support cane, used by people with visual impairments who also have mobility challenges; c) ID cane, a small, foldable cane used by people with partial sight to let others know they have a visual impairment.
  7. Orientation & Mobility specialists, who train people who are blind to use white canes, have to spend 120+ hours blindfolded while using a white cane.
  8. White canes today are typically made from aluminum, fiberglass or carbon fiber, and can weigh under 7 ounces.
  9. The Braille Institute holds a yearly Cane Quest, where kids aged 3-12 compete to quickly and safely navigate a route in their community using their white canes.
  10. Some states ban the use of white canes by people who are not legally blind so they can get the right-of-way to cross a street.
10 fascinating facts about the white cane

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Posted in Assistive and Vision Loss Technology and Products | View Post
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