What special accommodations can be made for the visually impaired?

Blindness cases have gone up in Minnesota. As diabetes risk increases so do this complication. The Department of Health in Minnesota released the statistics that the leading cause of blindness is diabetes. Around 500 to 800 become blind each year due to the complications of this condition.

The most common eye disease that is related to diabetes is retinopathy, but this should not be the case. Why? Because MOA or the Minnesota Optometric Association says that early treatment of this condition decreases the severe vision loss by 50-60%. This is the best time to raise the awareness of this condition as there have been anecdotal records on how people deal with this problem.

For example, a 57-year old lawyer in Toronto barely has any vision and relies on specialized equipment to help him in his work and dealings with his family. His assistant used to print out the documents in extra large print, but now the lawyer has other technology that helps him.

One thing he uses is a desktop closed-circuit television which has a video camera and a computer monitor. He puts the document on the tray below the camera. The magnified image is beamed up to a screen. The words are one inch high.

This lawyer is lucky in a way because he was referred to a low-vision rehabilitation clinic where he was able to get advanced visual aids that lessened the burden of his disability. LVR helps patients through the use of personalized devices and training so they can use whatever remaining vision they have as best as they can.

Low visual rehabilitation is for people who are no longer helped by standard therapies like strong reading classes. By this time also, they are told by their eye care specialists that they can no longer help. LVR will not bring back the lost vision, but it means that people could keep their job longer and maintain their independence.

As in the case of the lawyer, he was prescribed two devices after a detailed assessment. He was able to use a two-inch long telescope that attaches to his glasses and a pair of prismatic lenses. The lawyer wears the telescope in a string around his neck. He uses this when he needs to see anything far.

The president of the MOA Board of Trustees, Dr. Tina McCarty, who is also an optometrist at Eye Care Center said that diabetes could be managed properly via an integrated health program. This should advocate a yearly complete eye exam. People should know that diabetes can cause vision loss and will need regular exams.

About 60% of type 1 diabetics will have signs of retinopathy after ten years. After fifteen years, nearly all type 1 diabetics will have retinopathy. The trouble is that patient may not notice the signs. This is a problem because early discovery and treatment are important to prevent blindness.

Changes in the retina’s blood vessels may lead to diabetic neuropathy. In this case, the blood vessels may swell, and fluid will leak. In other cases, abnormal blood vessels may grow right on the retina’s surface. Blindness could be the result of these changes. What can we do to avoid this?

Get an eye exam every year, so it will be caught early. Once the diabetic retinopathy is here, take the medication as the doctor ordered. Keep eating a healthy diet and stay on a regular exercise program. Also, control the high blood pressure and high blood sugar. And last but not least, avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.

Here are the signs of retinopathy. See the eye doctor if you have any of these symptoms:

– Blurry vision
– Both or one eye hurts
– Feeling pressure in the eye
– Seeing double, spots or floaters
– Having trouble reading
– Can’t see things at the sides as well as before

There you have a background information on retinopathy. You have the knowledge on what to do to avoid this dreadful complication. There are also excellent visual aids that could help you keep your job longer and maintain your independence. It is not the end of the word when faced with the possibility of blindness.



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