If you are able to read this article without difficulty, consider yourself lucky!
Currently there are over 14 million Americans who are unable to read fluently, not because they are illiterate or simply don't know how to read, but because they are afflicted with a low vision disease that affects their ability to read.
Low Vision is a medical term that is used to describe the condition of one's sight when glasses, medication or surgery can not improve a vision loss. Persons with low vision disease retain some of their vision, but many daily activities such as reading, writing, cooking, watching TV or driving become difficult or impossible.
Chances are you know at least one person who is affected by a low vision disease such as: Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma, Diabetic Retinopathy, Cataract, or Stroke.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, cataract, and diabetic retinopathy are the most common debilitating eye diseases in Americans age 40 and over.
The leading cause of blindness among Caucasian Americans is AMD, accounting for 54 percent of all blindness. Among African Americans, the leading causes of blindness are cataract and glaucoma. Among Hispanics, glaucoma is the most common cause of blindness.
After the age of 50 years, the incidence of AMD steadily increases; over one-third of people in their ninth decade of life are affected. The Framingham Eye Study revealed that ARMD affects about 2% of Americans aged 52-64 years: 11% aged 65-74 years; and 28% aged 75 years and older.
By the year 2020 these numbers will double, meaning people over the age of 75 will have almost a 60% chance of developing macular degeneration.
Five Major Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration
- Family History
- UV Exposure
- Poor Nutrition
- Women have a high rate of incidents
Help for Low Vision Diseases is available. A low vision specialist will work with you in choosing optical aids that can help with vision loss.
Magnifiers are usually one of the first types of optical aids that are prescribed. These are not your typical over the counter type magnifier. A stronger, optically ground magnifier is needed.
These magnifiers can be in the form of a hand-held, stand, clip-on or head borne. Many of them will have a light, which makes a difference for a person afflicted with low vision.
Other types of aids that may be needed are telescopes, talking items, large print, glare control, closed circuit TV, electronic device or mobility device.
There is help for any one with a low vision disease. Don't let a vision impairment put a crimp in your daily activities.
In addition, there is help to educate your loved ones about the disease. A low vision disease will affect the whole family.
Deborah Kogler is a licensed optician and owner of Magnifiers & More. For more information or any questions, please feel free to call 440-946-3363.
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