Cape Gazette
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Ophthalmologists offer tips to older adults during Senior Independence Month

Jul 15, 2014

As part of its support for Senior Independence Month this July, the Delaware Academy of Ophthalmology, along with the American Academy of Ophthalmology - the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons - is providing older adults with low vision guidance on how to make the most of their remaining sight and keep their independence.

An estimated 2.9 million Americans have low vision, which makes it difficult or impossible for them to accomplish everyday activities such as reading, writing, shopping, watching television, driving a car or recognizing faces. Low vision can be caused by eye diseases that are more common in older people, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Fortunately, there are many strategies and resources available to people with low vision that can help them overcome these challenges.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people with low vision and those who care for them to follow these tips: See an ophthalmologist. Those with low vision can improve their quality of life through low vision rehabilitation, which teaches people how to use their remaining sight more effectively; it can be arranged through an ophthalmologist. Make things bigger. Sit closer to the television or to the stage at performances. Get large books, phone dials and playing cards. Carry magnifiers for help with menus, prescription bottles and price tags. Make things brighter. Make sure areas are well lit, and cover shiny surfaces to reduce glare. Use technology. Many of today’s newer technologies have applications that can help with low vision. For example, e-readers allow users to adjust the font size and contrast. Organize and label. Designate spots for your keys, wallet and frequently used items in your refrigerator. Mark thermostats and dials with high-contrast markers from a fabric store; label medications with markers or rubber bands; and safety-pin labels onto similarly colored clothing to tell them apart. Participate. Don’t isolate yourself. Keep social group, volunteer job, or golf game.

Seniors age 65 and older who are concerned about the cost of an eye exam may be eligible for EyeCare America, a public service program from the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology that provides medical eye exams and up to one year of care, often at no out-of-pocket cost. To find out more, visit www.eyecareamerica.org. To learn more about age-related eye diseases and low vision resources, visit www.geteyesmart.org.

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