Blog Posts by Maureen Duffy

Treating Macular Degeneration with Gene Therapy: New Research Shows Promise but Also Has Limitations

The Lancet logo Currently, there are a number of treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration, including the drugs Lucentis, Eylea, and Avastin, administered by injection with a very small needle directly into the eye after the surface has been numbed (also called


New Genetic Research in Diabetes Identifies a Protein That May Stop or Reduce Abnormal Blood Vessel Growth in the Retina

A retina with diabeticretinopathy New genetic research in diabetes, led by a team from Harvard Medical School, has identified a potential new therapy targeting RUNX1 (explained below) that significantly reduced abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina, which is a hallmark of advanced diabetic eye disease. Although the research has been conducted only with "in vitro" (explained below) laboratory


Is It Possible to Identify and Treat Cell Damage from Glaucoma Much Earlier in the Course of the Disease? New Research Says Maybe

Glaucoma often is called "the sneak thief of sight" for good reason: Many people are unaware that glaucoma has few symptoms or warning signs in its early stages. Early treatment for glaucoma can sometimes (but not always) slow the progression of the disease. However, as of yet, there is no cure for glaucoma. Now, researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a biomarker (explained below) that seems to be linked to cell damage in the eye from glaucoma. According to study co-author Rajendra S. Apte, M.D., Ph.D.,


May Is Healthy Vision Month: Make Your Eye Health a Priority and Learn How to Protect Your Vision

May is Healthy Vision Month, a national eye health observance established by the National Eye Institute (NEI) in May 2003. NEI is part of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This year, NEI is encouraging women to make eye health a priority and has designated four women as ambassadors – including VisionAware's Audrey Demmitt – who share their


The FDA Approves Lucentis for the Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy

A retina with diabeticretinopathy On April 17, 2017, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval to the injectable drug Lucentis (generic name ranibizumab) for the treatment of proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), a serious vision-related complication of diabetes. Previously, the FDA approved Lucentis for the treatment of diabetic


New Research: Emotional Support and Physician Communication Must Accompany Medical Treatment for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Although the advent of anti-VEGF therapy (explained below), administered via eye injection with Lucentis, Eylea, or Avastin, has revolutionized the treatment (but not cure) of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), there remain a number of challenges associated with


During Vision Rehabilitation Therapy Awareness Week: Considering the Increasing Role of Technology

By Steve Kelley, CVRT, CRC Celebrating Vision Rehabilitation Therapy Awareness Week Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan playing chess The week of April 9-15, 2017 is Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Awareness Week. The week commemorates the birthday of Anne Sullivan, who was Helen Keller's teacher (both pictured at left). With this celebration comes the


H.R.2050: The Medicare Demonstration of Coverage of Low Vision Devices Act of 2017 Needs Your Advocacy and Support

Dome of the U.S. Capitol The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Public Policy Center has announced the reintroduction of federal legislation that seeks to establish a nationwide Medicare demonstration project to evaluate the fiscal impact of a permanent change in Medicare coverage that would, for the first time, provide reimbursement for low vision devices. The AFB Public Policy Center, in Washington, DC, collaborates with policy


Do the Brains of Blind Persons "Rewire" or Adjust to Significantly Enhance the Other Senses? New Research Says Yes

An age-old question that surfaces regularly in my work is this one: "Is it true that blind people develop super senses, like extra-sensitive hearing or touch, to compensate for not being able to see?" A variation of the "super senses" question asks this: "Are the other senses truly enhanced, or do people without the sense of sight – and the input it provides – learn to pay closer attention to information received through the other senses?" Indeed, researchers, scholars, and philosophers have addressed this elusive question for many years: In 1749,


Understanding Our Shifting Health Insurance Landscape – and What It Means for People with Vision Loss

Rebecca Sheffield, Ph.D. Guest blogger Rebecca Sheffield, Ph.D., is the Senior Policy Researcher with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. The AFB Public Policy Center collaborates with policy makers in Congress and the Executive Branch to ensure that Americans with vision loss have equal rights and opportunities to fully participate in society. She also is the author of two important and helpful Public Policy Center publications:


Readers Beware: In a Dangerous and Unregulated Stem Cell Treatment, Patients Lose Sight After Stem Cells Are Injected Into Their Eyes

A retina with wet AMD Of all the eye research developments reported on the VisionAware blog, it is stem cell research for eye disease that generates the most inquiries from our readers. Many readers request information about stem cells, assuming that this is an established and widely-performed treatment for eye disease; others ask for help in finding a doctor who will administer "stem cell treatments." In response to these inquiries, my message is always the same: "Although stem cell research for eye disease has produced a small number of interesting results, it is in its very earliest safety-testing


American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference Recap: Some Critical Issues for Older Persons with Vision Loss

Guest blogger Kay McGill (pictured at left recording a Public Service Announcement) is the manager of Project Independence: Georgia Vision Program for Adults Age 55 and Over. The Georgia Vision Program is administered by the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency and provides the following services to people who are at least 55 years old and have vision loss or a combined vision and hearing loss: comprehensive


What Is It Like to Have Low Vision? A New Sight Simulator Can Help You Understand

How the world can lookwith low vision A query I receive frequently from readers is how to describe their low vision or vision loss to fully sighted family members and friends, who may find it difficult to understand how functional vision can vary significantly from one day to the next, or from daytime to nighttime. While some basic explanations do exist (cataracts = blurriness; glaucoma = "tunnel" vision), they rarely suffice, and accurately describing what one can – and cannot – see has remained an elusive and unsatisfying quest. Now, however,


What the Oscars Can Learn from VisionAware About Print Legibility and Effective Lighting for Reading

As many news outlets have reported by now, actors Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced the incorrect Best Picture winner at the 89th Academy Awards ceremony on February 26, 2017. Mr. Beatty opened the envelope and Ms. Dunaway read the winning picture as La La Land instead of Moonlight, the actual winner. How did this happen? Many explanations have been advanced, including human error by a tweeting and distracted Brian Cullinan, the PricewaterhouseCoopers accountant who handed the incorrect envelope to Warren Beatty backstage. Another possibility, however, is that the envelope – which was redesigned this year – was difficult to read, due


New Research: Gene Editing as a Potential Treatment for Wet Macular Degeneration

At present, there are a number of current treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration, including the drugs Lucentis, Eylea, and Avastin, administered by injection with a very small needle directly into the eye after the surface has been numbed. There have also been a number of treatments that have proven to be inconclusive or unsuccessful after undergoing clinical trials, including


During Low Vision Awareness Month: Learn More About Helpful Non-Optical Devices for Low Vision

As we age, our eyes change too. In most cases, regular eyeglasses or contact lenses can correct many of these vision changes. However, if your eye doctor tells you that your vision cannot be fully corrected with ordinary prescription glasses, medication, or surgery and you still have some usable vision, you have what is called "low vision." What Is Low Vision? Having low vision means that even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery, you may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as


Our Readers Want to Know: What Does It Mean When My Eye Doctor Tells Me I Have "Low Vision"?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search online]. Of particular concern to many readers are issues related to the diagnosis and treatment of low vision, as evidenced by the following searches: I've been told I have low vision, but what does this mean? How is low vision different from blindness? Is there a cure for low vision? An Answer from VisionAware: What


New Macular Degeneration Research: Will My AMD Affect Both Eyes? If So, How Soon Will That Happen?

Two questions asked most frequently by readers about age-related macular degeneration (AMD) involve (a) individual risk for the disorder and (b) the likelihood of eventual involvement of both eyes. In response, several recent studies have attempted to address these critically important questions: Data from the ongoing Blue Mountains Eye Study (BMES) and the


New Glaucoma Research: Will Patients and Family Members Pay for a Glaucoma-Specific App? Not Likely, Results Say

New – and highly relevant – research from the Wills Eye Glaucoma Research Center, in collaboration with Drexel University, sought to "evaluate the interest of glaucoma patients and their caregivers in a smartphone-based and tablet-based glaucoma application" (app) that contained a range of features (explained below) designed to (a) increase patients' level of knowledge about glaucoma and (b) improve their adherence to medication and follow-up appointment recommendations. Their research results, which are applicable to doctors, patients, family members, rehabilitation


Clinical Trial Update: Squalamine Eye Drops for Wet Macular Degeneration

A retina with wet AMD Many readers have been following closely the development of Squalamine Eye Drops for wet age-related macular degeneration, hoping that a self-administered at-home eye drop could reduce, or even eliminate, the need for monthly or as-needed eye injections. Unfortunately, a clinical trial designed to test this concept has produced disappointing results: Squalamine Eye Drops failed to reduce the average number of


New Research: Ebola Survivors Have Ongoing Risk of Eye Disease, Even When the Initial Outbreak Has Concluded

Although worldwide attention was focused on the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, considerably less attention – until now – has been paid to the eye and vision complications resulting from the disease. This month, a group of researchers from the United States, Liberia, and Uganda have published data describing the ocular findings, visual impairment, and associated complications of Ebola in a group of survivors in Monrovia, Liberia. They conclude that "survivors of Ebola virus disease (EVD) are at risk for uveitis (explained below), which may lead to eye


New Glaucoma Research from the United Kingdom: Could a Glaucoma Treatment also Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease?

Two recent United Kingdom-based eye research projects have begun to explore potential (but not yet proven) links between retinal disease and beta-amyloid proteins that accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. The first project, from the University of Southampton, England, investigated the potential role of beta-amyloid protein in the development of macular degeneration. The second project (explained below), from researchers at University


January Is National Glaucoma Awareness Month: Learn More About Glaucoma and Current Treatments

National Glaucoma Awareness Month provides a perfect opportunity to learn more about glaucoma, a leading cause of vision loss that affects more than 3 million people in the United States. Glaucoma often is called "the sneak thief of sight" for good reason: Many people are unaware that glaucoma has few symptoms or warning signs in its early stages. Early treatment for glaucoma can usually (but not always) slow the progression of the disease. However, as of yet, there is no cure for glaucoma. Because glaucoma has no obvious initial symptoms, a


Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Progress of Stem Cell Research for Eye Disease? Answer: It Has a Very Long Way to Go

Logo of the Association forResearch in Vision andOphthalmology Of all the eye research developments reported on the VisionAware blog, it is stem cell research for eye disease that generates the most inquiries from readers. Many readers request information about how to join a stem cell clinical trial, or find a doctor who will perform stem cell treatments. In response to these inquiries, my message is always the same: "Although stem cell research has produced interesting results, it is in its very earliest stages and must be subjected to additional, longer-term, rigorous study and clinical trials, encompassing many more years of research. Success in this


Clinical Trial Update: An Unsuccessful Trial of Combination Drugs Fovista and Lucentis for Macular Degeneration

A retina with wet AMD Although the advent of anti-VEGF therapy (explained below), administered via eye injection with Lucentis, Eylea, or Avastin, has revolutionized the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), there are still a


New Research from Google Labs: Using Machine Learning to Detect Diabetic Eye Disease

The highly regarded Research Labs at Google are charged with "tackling the most challenging problems in computer science and related fields," including eye care and ophthalmology. A groundbreaking project, announced in 2014 and still in development, was the creation of a prototype "smart" contact lens to monitor blood glucose levels continuously for people with diabetes.


New Research: Can Proteins that Characterize Alzheimer's Disease Contribute to an Understanding of Macular Degeneration?

A retina with wet AMD New research from the University of Southampton, England is investigating the mechanisms that contribute to the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – particularly the presence of the beta-amyloid proteins that also accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. According to study co-author Arjuna Ranayaka, Ph.D., "We know that AMD is caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle risk factors, but this novel discovery could open up new


New Research from Canada and France: Can Your Gut Microbes Influence the Development of Wet Macular Degeneration?

A retina with wet AMD New research From Canada and France reveals that microbes in the gut might play an important role in the development of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These findings indicate that it might be possible to prevent, or delay the development of, wet AMD by changing the balance of microbes in the gut through diet or other means. According to study co-author Przemyslaw Sapieha, from the University of Montreal and McGill University, "Our research


Meet Joseph Fontenot, MD, CVLT: Be Informed and Proactive About Low Vision Services, Protect Yourself, and Always "Buyer Beware"

Joseph Fontenot,M.D., CLVT Dr. Joseph Fontenot is a medical doctor, Certified Low Vision Therapist, and Medical Director of Community Services for Vision Rehabilitation (CSVR), with offices in Alabama and Mississippi. He is also the current Chair of the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Vision Rehabilitation Committee. In that role,


Meet Alan R. Morse, J.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, Lighthouse Guild

Alan R. Morse, J.D., Ph.D. Alan R. Morse is President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York- and New York State-based Lighthouse Guild, which provides a full spectrum of integrated vision + healthcare services helping people with vision loss, including those with multiple disabilities or chronic medical conditions. His professional interests include the influence of vision loss on health care utilization, functional implications of vision loss, and communication issues in patient-centered care delivery. Dr. Morse is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, College of Physicians and Surgeons of


African-American Patients: Highest Risk for Diabetic Retinopathy and Lowest Rates for Follow-Up Eye Care – What Kind of Education Is Needed?

A retina withdiabetic retinopathy An emerging body of diabetes, vision, and health care research indicates that significant disparities in the quality and equity of eye care exist throughout the United States, more specifically within the African American and Latino patient communities. This research includes an evaluation of the disparities in screening rates for diabetic retinopathy among minority patients, an examination of


A Powerful New Report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: Making Eye and Vision Health an Imperative for All Americans

The National Academiesof Sciences, Engineering,and Medicine logo Several recent United States-based eye and vision research projects, including the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study and the Philadelphia Glaucoma Detection and Treatment Project, have highlighted significant disparities in the quality and equity of eye care throughout the country, including barriers within the health care and public


What's New in iOS 10 Accessibility for Blind, Low Vision, and Deaf-Blind Users Part 2: Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and the Coordinator of the New York Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, administered by the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. The Program provides no-cost communication and technology training to persons with significant combined vision and hearing loss who meet federal income guidelines. Equipment can include smartphones, tablets, computers, screen readers, braille readers, and


What's New in iOS 10 Accessibility for Blind, Low Vision, and Deaf-Blind Users Part 1: Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and the Coordinator of the New York Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, administered by the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. The Program provides no-cost communication and technology training to persons with significant combined vision and hearing loss who meet federal income guidelines. Equipment can include smartphones, tablets, computers, screen readers, braille readers, and adaptive


New and Ongoing Research: A Drug-Dispensing Contact Lens that Effectively Lowers Eye Pressure Associated with Glaucoma

Several recent eye research projects have addressed the potential of contact lenses as a way to (a) deliver ocular drugs directly to the eye, (b) measure blood glucose levels, and (c) monitor intraocular (within the eye) pressure. Two prominent examples are the FDA-approved Triggerfish contact lens, which monitors intraocular pressure related to glaucoma, and


Our Readers Want to Know: What Causes Floaters and Should I Be Worried About Them?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search online]. Of particular concern to many readers are the presence and disease implications of floaters, as evidenced by the following searches: Do floaters go away after a while? I've had a sudden onset of a shower of floaters. What does this mean? I have floaters after laser treatment/eye injection/eye surgery. Is this a problem? Can floaters cause a retinal tear? An Answer from Mrinali Patel Gupta, M.D. <img


Updates from the London Project to Cure Blindness: Stem Cell Research for Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration

Please note: This is an older post and there have significant challenges in stem cell research for eye disease since this was published. For more current information, see Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Progress of Stem Cell Research for Eye Disease? Answer: It Has a Very Long Way to Go. The London Project to Cure Blindness was established ten years ago in the United Kingdom with the goal of


New Research Examines the Association Between Diabetic Eye Disease and Depression: Should Eye Doctors Be More Alert to Patients' Mental Health?

New diabetic retinopathy research from Australia and Singapore suggests that "the severity and progression of diabetic retinopathy can be a useful indicator to prompt the assessment of psychological well-being, particularly in individuals with other risk factors." The researchers further indicate that doctors who are treating adults with chronic disabling eye disease "should be alert and sensitive to potential indicators of depression such as sad mood, poor sleep and appetite, impaired concentration, and diminished


New Research Exploring Public Attitudes About Eye and Vision Health: Losing Vision Is Equal to Losing Hearing, Memory, Speech, or a Limb

New survey research from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Chicago that explores Americans' attitudes toward (a) the importance of eye health, (b) concerns about losing vision, (c) support for eye health research, and (d) awareness of eye diseases and risk factors has also revealed that the loss of eyesight is considered by many survey respondents to be "the worst ailment that could happen … relative to losing memory, speech, hearing, or a limb." According to the authors, "These findings emphasize the importance of focusing on the preservation of eye health and public support for vision research across all ethnic and racial groups in


New Research: Neuroscientists Regenerate Damaged Optic Nerves in Mice, May Lead to Future Treatment for Glaucoma or Other Optic Nerve Disorders

A group of United States-based neuroscience researchers has used a combination of gene therapy and visual stimulation to create a partial regeneration of damaged optic nerves in blind laboratory mice. Although this research is in its earliest stages and has been performed only with mice, the researchers are "cautiously optimistic" that these findings could one day be used to treat adult patients with vision loss caused by problems with the eye-brain connection – the optic nerve – such as


New Research Examines the Risk of Serious Eye Infection After Eye Injection Treatments for Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Eye Disease

Although the injectable drugs Lucentis, Eylea, or Avastin have revolutionized the treatment of wet macular degeneration and diabetic eye


Notes on Blindness: A Remarkable Film About Professor John Hull's Experience of Blindness Receives Strong Reviews

"Vision, in ordinary circumstances, is seamless and gives no indication of the underlying processes on which it depends. It has to be decomposed, experimentally or in neurological disorders, to show the elements that compose it." ~Oliver Sacks, M.D., In the River of Consciousness Touching the Rock: An Experience of Blindness Touching the Rock: An Experience of Blindness, first published in 1990, is the


New Research Indicates Long-Term Positive Effects of Intensive Blood Sugar Control on the Progression of Diabetic Retinopathy

New diabetes and diabetic retinopathy research indicates that people with type 2 diabetes, who intensively controlled their blood sugar levels during the landmark Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) Trial Eye Study, cut their risk of diabetic retinopathy in half in a follow-up analysis, called the ACCORD Follow-on


New Research: Results from the Philadelphia Glaucoma Detection and Treatment Project

New glaucoma research, initially presented at the American Glaucoma Society 24th Annual Meeting, concludes that targeting individuals at risk for glaucoma in underserved communities – in this case, Philadelphia – can yield a high detection rate of glaucoma-related diagnoses. The authors conclude that "providing examinations and offering treatment at community-based sites providing services to older adults are effective ways to improve access to eye care by underserved


Our Readers Want to Know: Can I Continue Gardening with Vision Loss?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to hear from our readers and implement their suggestions for keeping VisionAware relevant, timely, and useful. Most recently, our reader interactions have included several inquiries about hobbies or recreational activities for adults and older adults with vision loss: I would like to help a social director in an independent living facility find activities that are appropriate for


An Award-Winning Optometric Student Essay: Ethical Issues in Low Vision Rehabilitation

The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) is the academic leadership organization committed to promoting excellence in optometric education. ASCO's activities cover a wide range of educational issues related to optometry, including applicant development and diversity, faculty and executive development, advocacy, and communications. ASCO also recognizes optometric student achievement through a number of annual awards, including the


New Research: The Number of Older Americans with Visual Impairment or Blindness Is Expected To Double By 2050

According to new demographic research addressing blindness, vision impairment, and low vision, the number of older Americans who have visual impairments or are blind is projected to double by 2050. This important – and urgent – research, entitled Visual Impairment and Blindness in Adults in the United States: Demographic and Geographic Variations from 2015 to 2050, has been published "online first" in the May 19, 2016 edition of JAMA


New Research: Automobile Side Windows Do not Offer Sufficient Protection from UV Light, Increase the Risk of Cataracts and Other Eye Diseases

United States government regulations require automobile windshields to be made with laminated glass to lessen potential injury when shattered. The combination of laminated glass and extra-thick glass in front windshields provides protection against ultraviolet-A radiation. However, new research from California indicates that automobile side windows do not provide the same level of protection against ultraviolet-A radiation compared to the front-facing windshield, which may increase the risk of cataracts and skin cancer for frequent drivers. In addition, there is


Understanding Low Vision Care and Low Vision Devices: Part 2 in a Series on Low Vision and Low Vision Services by Bryan Gerritsen, CLVT

Guest blogger Bryan Gerritsen is a certified low vision therapist (CLVT) and owner of Low Vision Rehabilitation Services, providing low vision services throughout Utah. He is also the author of An Overview of Low Vision Devices,


New Macular Degeneration Research from the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study

New results from the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study indicate that early – as opposed to later and more severe – vision changes resulting from macular degeneration (AMD) are associated with a lower self-reported vision-specific health-related quality of life. According to study co-author Dr. Rohit Varma, "The study results are a wake-up call for both ophthalmologists and those in the Latino community to avoid a quality of life decline due to ocular conditions, especially in earlier stages of eye diseases


There is Hope; There is Help: Part 1 in a Series on Low Vision and Low Vision Services by Bryan Gerritsen, CLVT

Guest blogger Bryan Gerritsen is a certified low vision therapist (CLVT) and owner of Low Vision Rehabilitation Services, providing low vision services throughout Utah. He is also the author of An Overview of Low Vision Devices,


New Research: Do Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Systems Affect Adherence to Glaucoma Medication Regimens?

Electronic medical record (EMR) systems, defined by the Department of Health and Human Services as "an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that can be created, gathered, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff within one health care organization," have the potential to provide substantial benefits to physicians, clinic practices, and health care organizations and improve the quality of patient care and safety. Nevertheless, despite these myriad benefits, the possibility of medical error or


Meet Rebecca Sheffield, Ph.D., Senior Policy Researcher, American Foundation for Blind Public Policy Center

Rebecca Sheffield, Ph.D., is a Senior Policy Researcher with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. The AFB Public Policy Center collaborates with policy makers in Congress and the Executive Branch to ensure that Americans with vision loss have equal rights and opportunities to fully participate in society. She also authors two important and helpful Public Policy Center publications:


Researchers Identify a Mechanism that May Explain Why Some People Experience Accelerated Diabetic Retinopathy and Vision Loss

New diabetes and diabetic retinopathy research from Harvard Medical School, via Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, the official journal of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), has demonstrated an association between a defective myogenic response – the increase or decrease in blood pressure that serves to regulate a consistent blood flow within the vessels of


Our Readers Want to Know: Can You Tell Me More About Nutritional Supplements for Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet] as well as answer specific reader inquiries via email. Every month, questions about macular degeneration (AMD), including risks, treatments, and helpful resources, consistently rank among the top inquiries: I am 76 years old and have dry AMD in my left eye and wet in the other, first diagnosed in 2009. Can supplements help me or am I wasting my money? I am currently using [a pharmacy


Charles Bonnet Syndrome: Visual Hallucinations Are My Constant Companions by VisionAware Peer Advisor Sheila Rousey

Guest blogger and VisionAware Peer Advisor Sheila Rousey is an educator, assistive technology specialist, and certified braille transcriber. With a Master's degree in Special Education from Clemson University, Sheila has provided Interrelated Special Education Instruction in the public


Glaucoma News: Researchers Convert Stem Cells into Retinal Ganglion Cells for Future Targeted Glaucoma Treatment

Using stem cells derived from human skin cells, university researchers from Indiana and Connecticut have demonstrated the ability to turn stem cells into retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), which are the neurons that conduct visual information from the eye to the brain. Their research goal is ultimately to develop therapies that can prevent, slow down, or cure the degenerative processes that accompany glaucoma and other optic nerve injuries. Please note: Although this stem cell research has produced interesting results thus far, it is in its very earliest stages and


The FDA Approves Marketing of the Triggerfish "Smart" Contact Lens Sensor to Monitor Glaucoma Eye Pressure

On March 4, 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would allow the marketing of the Triggerfish® Sensor, a "smart" contact lens that may help eye doctors identify the best time of day to measure a patient's intraocular [i.e., within the eye] pressure, or IOP. Elevated IOP is often associated with the optic nerve damage that is characteristic of glaucoma. The FDA granted this approval via the


New Research from Canada: Approximately One in Five Persons with Vision Loss Experience Visual Hallucinations

Charles Bonnet ("Bo-NAY") Syndrome (CBS) is a condition that causes vivid, complex, recurrent visual hallucinations, usually in older adults with later-life vision loss from eye conditions that can include macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and


H.R.729: The Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act of 2015 Needs Your Advocacy and Support

Mark Richert, Esq., Director, and Rebecca Sheffield, Ph.D., Senior Policy Researcher, from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Public Policy Center have announced the introduction of new federal legislation that seeks to establish a nationwide Medicare demonstration project to evaluate the fiscal impact of a permanent change in Medicare coverage that would, for the first time, provide reimbursement for low vision devices. The AFB


New Research: Statins May Show Promise as a Treatment for Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

One of the most significant challenges facing eye and vision researchers is developing an effective treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although there are now a number of well-regarded FDA-approved drug treatments for wet AMD, the key to effective dry AMD treatment remains elusive, although


Meet Author Irv Arons and Learn More About Gene Therapy and Gene Editing for Eye Disease

Irv Arons is the creator of – and driving force behind – Irv Arons' Journal, an online compendium of the latest information on ophthalmics, medical lasers, clinical trials, developments in stem cell therapy and gene therapy, and emerging drug therapies and treatments for retinal diseases, including age-related macular degeneration. Until his retirement in 2005, Irv was a consultant to the ophthalmic industry for over 30 years, and to the medical laser industry for over 20 years.


During Black History Month: Learn about Two Pioneering African-American Educators in the Blindness Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field honors, at present, 56 individuals who were pioneers in the blindness field and shaped the field's history, philosophy, knowledge, and skills, while providing outstanding service to people who were blind and visually impaired. The Hall of Fame, which belongs to the entire field of blindness, is located within, and is curated by, the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) in Louisville, Kentucky. You can learn more about APH's long and storied history


Meet Dr. Gislin Dagnelie and Dr. Duane Geruschat: Pioneers in the Study of Restored and Prosthetic Vision

Gislin Dagnelie, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the associate director of the Lions Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center, a division of the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. His work over the last 20 years has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation,


VisionAware Response: The White House Conference on Aging Final Report

Guest blogger Priscilla (Pris) Rogers, Ph.D. is the Program Manager for VisionAware and co-author of Aging and Vision Loss: A Handbook for Families. Her other works include Self-Advocacy Skills Training for Older Individuals Who Are Visually Impaired and Solutions for Success: A Training Manual for Working with Older People Who Are Visually Impaired. She has an M.A. degree in gerontology and a Ph.D. in special education with an emphasis in vision and aging. First, Some Background and an


New Research Explained: Restoring Vision Following Long-Term Blindness: Prosthetic Vision and Considerations for Rehabilitation

During the past several years, there has been much "buzz" in the popular press about the capabilities of the so-called "bionic" eye, described variously as "miraculous," "restoring sight," and "letting me see again." At VisionAware, we have followed the development of "bionic" or "prosthetic" vision closely, avoiding hyperbole and striving to report factual, research-based information about the limitations of restored vision. Now, in this month's edition of the Journal of Vision Impairment & Blindness, two researchers who are pioneers in the study of prosthetic vision analyze the current state of the art in


New Research: Significant Disparities Exist in Screening Rates for Diabetic Retinopathy among Minority Patients

New diabetes research from the University of California at Los Angeles indicates that there is a pronounced disparity in diabetic retinopathy screening rates between Hispanic and African American patients. Compared with Hispanic patients, African American patients were screened 50% less often in the previous year, despite reporting similar barriers to screening, similar awareness that diabetes may lead to diabetic retinopathy, and the same likelihood of receiving physician recommendation for diabetic retinopathy


New Research: Stepped Care for Coping with Age-Related Vision Loss, Depression, and Anxiety

New research from Europe indicates that stepped care – a type of treatment that can offer self-help and "as needed" options for coping with age-related vision loss and depression – can offer promise in dealing with depression and anxiety in visually impaired older adults. Further, this stepped care approach (detailed below) could lead to standardized strategies for the screening, monitoring, treatment, and referral of visually impaired older adults with vision-related depression and anxiety. From the British Medical Journal (BMJ) The research, entitled


New Research on Marijuana Use for Glaucoma: Is Education Enough, or Is Emotional Support also Necessary?

New glaucoma research from The George Washington University in Washington, DC indicates that the factors associated with patients' intentions to use marijuana for glaucoma include their perceptions of the legality of marijuana use as well as satisfaction (or not) with their current standard of glaucoma care. The researchers conclude that patients need to be educated about marijuana and its specific effects on glaucoma, which they note is not supported by scientific evidence. In an editorial response to the research, however, two


New Genetic Research in Macular Degeneration: The International AMD Genomics Consortium

The International Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Genomics Consortium, which includes 26 centers worldwide, has published new data and information about the role of genes and their contribution to the risk of macular degeneration. Previously, researchers had identified 21 regions of the human genome – called loci – that are associated with an increased risk of AMD. The new research, published in Nature Genetics, increases the number of loci to 34.


Our Readers Want to Know: Why Am I Having Visual Hallucinations Along with My Vision Loss?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet]. Since the earliest days of VisionAware.org, and more so during the past year, the following questions appear consistently within our top searches: I'm seeing things that I know aren't there. What is wrong with me? I'm nervous because I see people in my house, but I know they're not really there. Why is this happening? An Answer from VisionAware <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=3758" alt="Engraving of Charles Bonnet in profile.


New Research: Gene Therapy Restores Some Vision in Clinical Trials for Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA)

Gene therapy for the treatment of specific eye and retinal disorders, such as Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), has shown promise, but research has produced uneven results thus far and has not produced a cure. To date, gene therapy studies have raised concerns among researchers, including inconsistent initial and longer-term results, such as this LCA gene therapy study from the National Eye Institute, which reported that


New Survey: Less than Half of United States Adults with Diabetes Understand Their Risk for Vision Loss

A new survey released this month by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. reveals that less than half of recently surveyed United States adults with diabetes recognize their risk for vision loss. Regeneron is a science-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, invents, develops, manufactures, and commercializes medicines for the treatment of serious medical conditions. [Please note: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which commissioned this survey, is also the developer of the injectable drug EYLEA,


New Research: Lucentis Is Effective in Treating Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy and More Effective than Traditional Laser Treatment

Results from a new clinical trial have revealed that the injectable drug Lucentis is highly effective in treating proliferative diabetic retinopathy, a serious vision-related complication of diabetes. "These findings," said Dr. Paul Sieving, Director of the National Eye Institute (NEI), "provide crucial evidence for a safe and effective alternative to laser


On Veterans Day: VisionAware Thanks Our Veterans and Provides Critical Information and Veteran-Specific Resources

Master Sergeant Jeffrey Mittman According to the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), there are 165,000 blind or visually impaired veterans in the United States. BVA data also indicates that some 7,000 veterans become newly blind or visually impaired each year, due to age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma,


Ten New Tips for Braille Users of iDevices: Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and the Coordinator of the New York Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, administered by the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. The Program provides no-cost communication and technology training to persons with significant combined vision and hearing loss who meet federal income guidelines. Equipment can include smartphones, tablets, computers, screen readers, braille readers, and adaptive software.


New Macular Degeneration Research: Some Eyes not Responsive to Initial Eye Injection Treatments May Benefit from Continued Treatment without Switching Drugs

Although the advent of anti-VEGF therapy (also called eye injections, explained below) has revolutionized the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), there are still a number of persons – although in the minority – who do not respond to treatment. It is these "non-responders" or "reduced responders" who continue to pose significant challenges to doctors and researchers. Since there are not, at present, specific protocols that govern ophthalmologists' decisions to switch


Enrollment News about the New PIVOT Study: Patient-centric Innovative Vision Home Testing

The PIVOT Study (Patient-centric Innovative Vision HOme Testing) is a new clinical study that is being initiated to determine if persons with diabetic macular edema (DME) or wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) can use the myVisionTrack™ (mVT™) mobile medical application (also called


A VoiceOver User's Guide to Apple's "3D Touch" Feature on the New iPhone 6s and 6s Plus: Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and the Coordinator of the New York Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, administered by the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. The Program provides no-cost communication and technology training to persons with significant combined vision and hearing loss who meet federal income guidelines. Equipment can include


The First Stem Cell Clinical Trial for Wet Macular Degeneration Is Underway in London

Please note: This is an older post and there have been setbacks and significant changes in stem cell research for eye disease since this was first published. For more current information, see Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Progress of Stem Cell Research for Eye Disease? Answer: It Has a Very Long Way to Go. Also see the author's updates in the comment section below. A pioneering clinical trial of a new treatment derived from embryonic


Is Glaucoma a Genetic Disease? New and Innovative Genetic Research Shows Promise in the Treatment of Glaucoma

New glaucoma research from the United States and China indicates that a genetic interaction may prove to be a key component in the development and progression of open-angle glaucoma. Although this genetic research has been conducted only with laboratory mice, the concept shows great promise for developing and identifying effective therapies for treating – and even preventing – glaucoma. Molecular Cell: the Research The research, entitled P16INK4a [a type of gene] Upregulation [increased


Good Nutrition and Eye Health: They're Connected!

Guest blogger Audrey Demmitt, RN, BSN, is a nurse diabetic educator, VisionAware Peer Advisor, AFB Career Connect mentor, and author of the VisionAware multi-part blog series on diabetes and diabetes education. At age 25, Audrey was diagnosed with


What's New in iOS 9 Accessibility for Blind and Deaf-Blind Users Part 2: Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and the Coordinator of the New York Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, administered by the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. The Program provides no-cost communication and technology training to persons with significant combined vision and hearing loss who meet federal income guidelines. Equipment can include smartphones, tablets, computers, screen readers, braille readers, and adaptive


What's New in iOS 9 Accessibility for Blind and Deaf-Blind Users Part 1: Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and the Coordinator of the New York Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, administered by the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. The Program provides no-cost communication and technology training to persons with significant combined vision and hearing loss who meet federal income guidelines. Equipment can include smartphones, tablets, computers, screen readers, braille readers, and adaptive


How Can We Improve Compliance with Glaucoma Medication Regimens? New Research Advocates Team-Based Care, Similar to Diabetes

New glaucoma research from the University of Michigan indicates that patterns of adherence to glaucoma medication regimens, both positive and negative, that are established during the first year tend to persist over time. According to the research team, these results suggest that "investing resources in both identifying and helping patients with [less than optimal] adherence patterns over the first year may have a large impact on longer-term adherence." "If we can increase people's contact with the healthcare system in new ways — it doesn't


Meet Antonio Capone, Jr., MD, and His Pioneering Work in Face-Down Positioning after Macular Hole Surgery

Antonio Capone, Jr., M.D. is a board-certified ophthalmologist whose special interests include pediatric vitreoretinal diseases, complicated retinal detachment, ocular oncology, and macular disease. Dr. Capone is an internationally recognized clinician, surgeon, and educator. He has authored or co-authored over 200 publications in peer-reviewed medical journals, book chapters, and publications from clinical trials. He is currently a Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Oakland University, and Professor at the European School for Advanced Studies in Ophthalmology, Lugano, Switzerland. In addition, he is Co-Director of the


A New Stem Cell Immune Rejection Discovery Shows Promise for Treating Retinal Disease

A joint China-United States research team has discovered that a class of stem cells derived from an individual's own cells were not rejected by the immune system when they were turned into retinal pigment epithelium cells destined for the eye. This important discovery provides a boost for the development of human stem cell therapies to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although this research has been conducted only with laboratory mice, this concept shows great promise for developing and identifying human stem cell treatments for a variety


New Research: Faulty Immune Cells May be a Cause of Vision Loss in Macular Degeneration

A research group from the Washington University School of Medicine has identified a faulty immune cell pathway that leads to the formation of atypical blood vessels associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although their research thus far has been conducted only with laboratory mice, this concept shows great promise for identifying potential treatments for wet AMD and increases our understanding of the ways that


Meet Doug Anzlovar and the New "Low Vision Focus @ Hadley" Program at The Hadley School for the Blind

Doug Anzlovar is the Vice President of Education and Training at The Hadley School for the Blind, where he serves as a member of the administrative team, oversees a 31-member faculty, is involved in curriculum decisions and policy development, and oversees the Low Vision Focus @ Hadley program. Prior to joining Hadley, Doug worked as a teacher of the visually impaired in the Chicago Public Schools for nearly 10 years. While at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago, Doug developed a resource program for students with visual impairments and later became chair


Macular Degeneration, Central Vision Loss, and Preferred Retinal Location: New Research May Enable New Approaches to Low Vision Rehabilitation

People who have central vision loss, caused primarily by age-related macular degeneration, can sometimes adapt by developing a new fixation point in a different part of the retina, called the preferred retinal location (PRL). Recently, Canadian vision scientists developed a new method that makes it possible to identify PRLs in both eyes simultaneously. This new "proof-of-principle" technique opens the door to an exploration of new approaches to low vision rehabilitation for people with central vision loss. As the authors note,


Coming Soon: The National Prison Braille Forum at American Printing House for the Blind

The 15th Annual National Prison Braille Forum (NPBF) will be held on October 7, 2015, in Louisville, Kentucky, in conjunction with the American Printing House for the Blind Annual Meeting. This year, the theme of the NPBF is Transition Success and will feature transcribers who are transitioning out of prison and establishing careers in braille translation. About the National Prison Braille Network The National Prison Braille Network (NPBN) is a growing group of blindness/low vision and corrections professionals who are forming partnerships to produce braille materials in prisons across the United States. Since 2001, the


The White House Conference on Aging Issues and Initiatives: Part Three

Guest blogger Priscilla (Pris) Rogers, Ph.D. is the Program Manager for VisionAware and co-author of Aging and Vision Loss: A Handbook for Families. Her other works include Self-Advocacy Skills Training for Older Individuals Who Are Visually Impaired and Solutions for Success: A Training Manual for Working with Older People Who Are Visually Impaired. She has an M.A. degree in gerontology and a Ph.D. in special education with an emphasis in vision and aging. In


The White House Conference on Aging Issues and Initiatives: Part Two

Guest blogger Priscilla (Pris) Rogers, Ph.D. is the Program Manager for VisionAware and co-author of Aging and Vision Loss: A Handbook for Families. Her other works include Self-Advocacy Skills Training for Older Individuals Who Are Visually Impaired and Solutions for Success: A Training Manual for Working with Older People Who Are Visually Impaired. She has an M.A. degree in gerontology and a Ph.D. in special education with an emphasis in vision and aging. In


A Summary of the White House Conference on Aging Issues and Initiatives: Part One

Guest blogger Priscilla Rogers, Ph.D. is the Program Manager for VisionAware and co-author of Aging and Vision Loss: A Handbook for Families. Her other works include Self-Advocacy Skills Training for Older Individuals Who Are Visually Impaired and Solutions for Success: A Training Manual for Working with Older People Who Are Visually Impaired. She has an M.A. degree in gerontology and a Ph.D. in special education with an emphasis in vision and aging. The 2015 White House Conference on


Meet Dr. Gregory Goodrich, Chair of the Upcoming Conference on Vision Loss in Older Adults and Veterans

Dr. Gregory Goodrich received his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology in 1974 from Washington State University, when he also began his career with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He retired in 2014 after having served as supervisory research psychologist assigned to the Western


Download the VisionConnect App Today and Take the VisionAware Challenge

Guest blogger Priscilla Rogers, Ph.D. is the Program Manager for VisionAware and co-author of Aging and Vision Loss: A Handbook for Families. Her other works include Self-Advocacy Skills Training for Older Individuals Who Are Visually Impaired and Solutions for Success: A Training Manual for Working with Older People Who Are Visually Impaired. She has an M.A. degree in gerontology and a Ph.D. in special education with an emphasis in vision and aging. About the New VisionConnect™


New Retinitis Pigmentosa Research: Uncovering the Mechanism Underlying Photoreceptor Cell Death

Researchers from the National Eye Institute and New York University have published new research that implicates the normally beneficial and protective "trash-collecting" central nervous system cells in the accelerated cell death associated with retinitis pigmentosa. Please note that this research is in its earliest stages and has been conducted thus far only with laboratory mice. However, a new clinical trial related to this study, Oral Minocycline in Treating Bilateral Cystoid Macular Edema


New Research: The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis (Bionic Eye) Is Safe, Effective, and Improves Visual Function

New clinical trial results from the Argus II Study Group, an international consortium of eye and vision researchers, confirm that the Argus II, also called the "bionic eye," is a safe, reliable, and effective device that "significantly improves visual function and quality of life for people blinded by retinitis pigmentosa." The latest research, entitled Long-Term Results from an Epiretinal [i.e, "on," "upon," "near," or "against" the retina] Prosthesis


Calling All Advocates: White House Conference on Aging Set for July 13, 2015

Guest blogger Priscilla Rogers, Ph.D. is the Program Manager for VisionAware and co-author of Aging and Vision Loss: A Handbook for Families. Her other works include Self-Advocacy Skills Training for Older Individuals Who Are Visually Impaired and Solutions for Success: A Training Manual for Working with Older People Who Are Visually Impaired. She has an M.A. degree in gerontology and a Ph.D. in special education with an emphasis in vision and aging. The 2015 White House Conference on


Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Role of Lasers in Cataract Surgery?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet]. Since the earliest days of VisionAware.org, the following questions about cataracts and cataract surgery consistently rank within the top ten searches and are especially relevant during Cataract Awareness Month: Is it true that cataract surgery now can be performed entirely by laser? How can I find out more about laser surgery for cataracts? An Answer from Tina D. Turner, M.D. <img src="/image.asp?ImageID=3483" style="margin:0 10px 10px 0;" alt="Tina D.


Meet Dan Roberts, Developer of the "LowViz Guide" Indoor Wayfinding Application

Dan Roberts, M.M.E., is the Founding Director of MD Support, Inc. and the International Low Vision Support Group. He is the editor-in-chief of Living Well with Low Vision, an extensive online resource center affiliated with Prevent Blindness. In addition to heading MD Support and the International Low Vision Support Group, Dan is a resource consultant for the Macular


A New Protein Shows Promise for the Treatment and Perhaps Even Prevention of Diabetic Eye Disease

Although there have been a number of significant advances in the treatment of diabetic eye disease, including Avastin, Lucentis, and Eylea injections, this approach has not proven to be effective in preventing the development of diabetic eye disease and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (explained below).


Optogenetics: Can This Innovative Gene Therapy Treat Degenerative Retinal Disease and Possibly Restore Sight?

A research group of Swiss and German scientists has restored vision to mice with a condition similar to retinitis pigmentosa (RP) by introducing engineered light-sensing proteins into their eyes, via a process known as optogenetics. Optogenetics is a still-experimental treatment for a variety of blinding retinal disorders that uses gene therapy to enable retinal and brain cells to respond to light. According to the researchers, "… optogenetic gene therapy, which selectively introduces genes encoding light-sensitive proteins into surviving retinal cells to act as


Can a Drug to Treat Parkinson’s Disease Also Prevent Macular Degeneration?

The treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has – by all accounts – been revolutionized by the successful use of the injectable drugs Eylea, Lucentis, and Avastin. Successful treatments for


The New Low Vision Focus @ Hadley Program for Older Adults with Low Vision

This month, The Hadley School for the Blind is launching the innovative and highly anticipated Low Vision Focus @ Hadley program for older adults who have low vision. The mission of Hadley is to promote independent living through lifelong distance education programs for people who are blind or visually impaired, their families, and blindness and low vision service providers. A newly-revised series of 10 audio lessons is the core component of the Low Vision Focus @ Hadley program. Each lesson is approximately 30 minutes long and available on a CD (pictured below), which is


Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Difference Between an Ophthalmologist and an Optometrist?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet]. Since the earliest days of VisionAware.org, the following questions about eye doctors and eye care consistently rank within the top ten searches and are especially relevant during Healthy Vision Month: What are the different kinds of eye doctors? What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist? Ophthalmology and Ophthalmologists <img


Can Generic Drugs Improve Compliance with Glaucoma Medication Regimens? New Research Says Yes

New glaucoma research from the University of Michigan (U-M) indicates that patients are more likely to comply with a glaucoma medication regimen that includes generic – rather than brand-name – drugs, suggesting that the high cost of co-pays for brand-name drugs may be a significant deterrent to compliance. The U-M research team examined patient medication-compliance patterns before and after latanaprost, a generic prostaglandin analogue (PGA) glaucoma drug [explained below], became available on the market in 2011. They found that patients who continued to use


Researchers Uncover Commonalities Shared by Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Stroke

Researchers from Louisiana State University in New Orleans have discovered previously unknown gene interactions that are common to ischemic stroke [i.e., a stroke in which blood flow to a part of the brain is blocked] and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). According to the research team, these gene interactions "make definitive decisions about whether a retina or brain cell will survive or die when threatened with disease onset" and


Can "Audio Film" Provide a Richer Film Experience than an Audio Description Soundtrack?

Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom are attempting to develop an alternative to the traditional – and widely used – audio description techniques for blind and visually impaired filmgoers. The research team's long-term goal is to provide a more immersive, inclusive, and entertaining film experience as they explore ways to tell a story on film without the need for visual elements or an audio description track. The proposed format, called "audio film," focuses on innovative sound design techniques and the creative use of surround sound instead of a conventional audio description soundtrack. The foundation for this


New Research: Tiny Calcium Deposits in the Eye May Trigger the Development of Macular Degeneration

Researchers from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany have discovered that tiny spheres of calcium phosphate, a component of teeth and bones in the human body, may also provide a significant early triggering mechanism for the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The research team is investigating the possibility of using the presence of these calcium spheres as an early warning signal for AMD risk that can help with


Announcing the National Federation of the Blind 2015 Annual Writing Contest

As a sister/fellow writer, I was delighted to receive the following update from author Donna W. Hill about the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) 2015 Annual Writing Contest. Donna is a writer, disability advocate, blogger, speaker, songwriter, and author of the young adult adventure-mystery novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill (pictured at left). You can read more about Applebutter Hill, which depicts the adventures, setbacks, challenges, and successes of 14-year-old legally blind heroine Abigail and her guide dog Curly


New Research: Surgery May Not Completely Undo the Effects of Long-Term Blindness

Is it possible to fully restore sight? New surgeries and advances in stem cell and gene therapies seem to indicate that this is possible and may happen within the next decade. Recent research in neuroscience, however, demonstrates that it may not yet be possible to restore full vision in persons with long-standing blindness or low vision. A group of international


New Research: "Blindness Simulation" Activities May Do More Harm than Good

New research findings from the University of Colorado indicate that blindness simulations – intended to be bridge-builders resulting in greater compassion and understanding – can sometimes harm rather than help. According to the authors, simulation activities, and blindness simulations in particular, "highlight the initial challenges of becoming disabled" and thus "decrease the perceived adaptability of being disabled and reduce the judged capabilities of disabled people." The lead author is Arielle Silverman, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle, who is blind and has experienced a variety of reactions from the public, related to people's


Meet Donald C. Fletcher, M.D., Internationally Recognized Authority on Low Vision Rehabilitation

Donald C. Fletcher, M.D., is one of the world's leading authorities on low vision rehabilitation. Dr. Fletcher is a clinician and researcher in the field of retinal diseases and low vision rehabilitation. He is a medical doctor and an ophthalmologist who has completed fellowship training in both retinal diseases and low vision rehabilitation. After completing surgical training, he gave up surgery to devote his practice to patients who could not have their vision restored by any medical means. He is affiliated with, and routinely sees patients


Braille Literacy Awareness Month: The Story of Louis Braille

During Braille Literacy Awareness Month, VisionAware is pleased to celebrate the life and work of Louis Braille (January 4, 1809 – January 6, 1852), the creator of the braille code, which revolutionized reading and writing for blind people throughout the world. This month, our examination of Louis Braille's life and work features Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius, authored by C. Michael Mellor and published by


Progress Update: United States Accessible Currency Project for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons

Last week, I received the following update on the United States Treasury Department's long-term and ongoing project to create paper currency (i.e., banknotes) that is independently accessible by people who are blind and/or have low vision. Excerpted from Nationwide Release of the BEP's U.S. Currency Reader Program to Help the Blind and Visually Impaired: The Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is accepting and processing applications


New Research: Which Factors Influence Persons with Low Vision to Pursue Rehabilitation Services?

When is the best time for a person to pursue low vision rehabilitation services? What are the factors that influence a person to make a "positive personal choice" to seek out low vision rehabilitation? A multi-disciplinary group of Canadian researchers has attempted to answer these questions, via a study that (a) categorizes the "predictors of awareness" of low vision rehabilitation services and (b) examines the critical factors that influence an individual's decision to access vision rehabilitation services. They conclude that, even


Meet Nancy D. Miller, CEO of VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in New York City

Ms. Nancy D. Miller, LMSW, began working with people of all ages who are blind, visually impaired, and multi-disabled in 1971. Since 1987, she has been Executive Director/CEO of VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an 88-year-old vision rehabilitation and social service organization in New York City. Ms. Miller has a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University, a Master of Science degree in Social Work from Columbia University, and is a New York State licensed social worker. In


Guest Blogger Jeremiah Taylor Reviews Descriptive Audio Narration for "Unbroken"

Guest blogger Jeremiah Taylor is a dynamic sales professional, motivational speaker, and serious movie buff. Life has not always been easy for Jeremiah, however. In 1999, he became suddenly and totally blind as a result of complications during routine back surgery. You can read more about Jeremiah's (and his wife Jo-Ann's) long, steady journey – from sudden blindness through rehabilitation to full employment – at the VisionAware website. "Going to the movies," Jeremiah says, "is not just the movie! It's a night out with friends and family,


Could Echolocation Become a "Complete Sensory Replacement" for Sight? New Research Says Yes

New research from the United Kingdom and Canada has examined the influence of echolocation (explained below), a method that many blind persons use to perceive the location and structure of objects in the environment. The researchers determined, via controlled experimentation, that "echolocation is not just a functional tool to help visually impaired individuals navigate their environment; rather, it has the potential to be an actual sensory replacement for vision." Psychological Science The research, entitled The Size-Weight Illusion


New Glaucoma Research from the UK: Eye Pressure-Lowering Drops Can Help Preserve the Visual Field

The most commonly prescribed medication for the treatment of open-angle glaucoma is a class of eye pressure-lowering drugs called prostaglandin analogues (explained below). Until recently, however, the extent to which these drugs could help preserve the visual field and protect visual function had not been assessed via controlled clinical trials. The United Kingdom Glaucoma Treatment Study, which examined this question via a


Researchers Create Light-Sensitive Retinal Cells for Potential Retinitis Pigmentosa Treatment

United States-based researchers have restored light sensitivity in animal subjects with a condition similar to retinitis pigmentosa. Their work has demonstrated that it is possible to create replacement genetically modified [i.e., via gene therapy] light-sensing retinal cells from cells that do not normally react to light. This research is in its earliest stages and has been conducted only with laboratory animals; nevertheless, the concept shows great promise for persons with retinitis pigmentosa and some forms of Leber congenital amaurosis.


New Research: African-Americans with Diabetes Experience the Highest Rates of Vision Loss

A new study has revealed that African-Americans with diabetes have higher rates of vision loss from diabetic macular edema (explained below) compared with other ethnic and racial groups – and inconsistent access to eye care and eye examinations is a likely contributor to this disparity. From JAMA Ophthalmology The research, entitled Prevalence of and Risk Factors for


New Research: Top-Selling Eye Supplements Lack Scientific Evidence, Make Unsupported Claims

An American research group has concluded that claims made about top-selling eye vitamin brands and products in the United States lack concrete scientific evidence supported by clinical trial outcomes. The researchers also determined that many of the most heavily promoted and top-selling products do not contain ingredients and dosages identical to "eye vitamin" formulas that have been proven effective in the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2), sponsored by the National Eye


Do You Have Problems with Light and Glare Sensitivity? Meet Leann Gibson, Who Has Been There Too!

Leann Gibson was born and raised in the small community of Wainwright, Alberta, Canada. Leann and her husband Steve are professional chefs who "fell in love over a buffet line," as they like to say. Steve also serves in the Canadian military; thus, says Leann, "Moving is a way of life, so our home is truly where the heart is." Leann's vision loss journey began in June 2012, when she awoke one morning with a sense that something was "not right" and had seemingly changed overnight. Coincidentally, she was working in an optometrist's office as an optometric assistant at the time. At work later that morning, Leann was overwhelmed by a cascade of visual changes,


A Progress Update: the OrCam Wearable Visual System

During the past several months, I have received a number of inquiries from readers about the status of the OrCam: A Portable, Wearable Visual System for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons. When the OrCam was initially released in 2013, the parent company indicated that the OrCam would begin shipping 100 units in the fall of 2013, with further production unfolding in late 2013 and early 2014. That projected schedule has been delayed, however, and readers have begun to question both the company and the product; thus, I took


New Research: Patients not Referred for Low Vision Services in a Timely and Efficient Manner

Last month, at the 2014 American Academy of Optometry Annual Meeting, a group of student researchers from the New England College of Optometry presented survey data that identified (a) patient barriers to low vision services and (b) the actions optometrists can take to improve the efficiency of referrals to low vision specialists. Their research revealed a discrepancy between


Existing FDA-Approved HIV/AIDS Drugs Could Be Repurposed to Treat Macular Degeneration

An international research group has reported that HIV/AIDS drugs, in use for the last 30 years, could be repurposed to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as well as other systemic inflammatory disorders. Their research tested the treatment effects of nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) on dry AMD in laboratory mice. NRTIs are a class of drugs that were designed to


New Research: Uveitis, an Inflammatory Eye Disease, May Signal the Onset of Multiple Sclerosis

Several research projects addressing inflammation as a source of eye disease have received attention recently. In the genetic arena, European researchers investigating the link between inflammation and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) identified a protein, called FHL-1, that functions as a "regulator" to protect the eye from immune system attacks. And last month, at the 2014


New Genetic Research Investigates the Link between Inflammation and Macular Degeneration

European researchers investigating the link between inflammation and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have identified a protein, called FHL-1, that functions as a type of "regulator" to protect the eye from an attack by the immune system. According to lead author Dr. Simon Clark, this important genetic research has identified a new target for therapeutic drugs that can "reset" the immune imbalance in the eye, thus possibly preventing, or delaying the progression of, AMD. From the Journal of


Can Our Eye Movements While Watching Television Reveal the Presence of Glaucoma?

New research from City University London indicates that the sequence of specific eye movements an individual uses while watching television or films (called an "eye movement signature") could offer clues as to whether or not he or she has glaucoma. According to the research team, these "proof of principle" findings could spur the development of an easy-to-use, non-invasive method of screening for glaucoma and additional eye conditions. From Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience The research, entitled


New Retinal Scan Analysis Can Predict Progression of Macular Degeneration within a Year

During the past several months, there has been much research interest focused on predicting the progression of age related macular degeneration (AMD). Last month, a new study in JAMA Ophthalmology investigated the pattern and progression of wet (also called neovascular) AMD and determined that having wet AMD in one eye was associated with an increased incidence and progression of AMD in


Medicare Reimbursement and Low Vision Devices: Is It Time to Update Medicare Policy?

A new editorial/opinion piece from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Ophthalmology discusses the growing incidence of sensory loss in the aging United States population and forcefully advocates for needed updates in current Medicare policy to improve coverage for hearing and vision rehabilitation services – including low vision devices – for older adults. From JAMA Ophthalmology The Viewpoint/Opinion article, entitled Hearing and Vision Care for Older Adults: Sensing a Need to Update Medicare Policy, was published online in the November 5, 2014 edition of


Is Visual Field Loss in Glaucoma Related to Declines in Quality of Life? New Research Says Yes

New glaucoma research from the University of California, San Diego, has measured the amount and rate of change in glaucoma-related visual field loss and combined that information with data from the National Eye Institute's Visual Function Questionnaire (explained below) to gather quality-of-life self-reports from study participants with glaucoma. The study results indicate that vision-related function incorporating patient self-assessment and perspectives can help glaucoma physicians (a) better identify patients who may


Macular Degeneration in One Eye Associated with Increased Incidence and Progression in the Other Eye

A new study has investigated the pattern and progression of wet (also called neovascular) age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and determined that having wet AMD in one eye was associated with an increased incidence and progression of AMD in the other eye. The researchers concluded that "AMD severity in one eye largely tracks AMD severity in the 'fellow' eye at all stages of the disease." The study results clarify the symmetrical nature of AMD and may help physicians and patients communicate more clearly when


Adult Stem Cells for Dry AMD: Emerging Future Research from the National Eye Institute

One of the most significant challenges facing eye and vision researchers is the development of an effective treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although there are now a number of well-regarded FDA-approved drug treatments for wet AMD, the key to effective dry AMD treatment remains elusive thus far, although


What's So Wrong with "Elderspeak," Anyway? Answer: Everything

Hypocorisma: It's the bane of older adulthood. What is hypocorisma, you ask? Here is a helpful (and perceptive) definition from Maeve Maddox at the excellent Daily Writing Tips blog: Hypocorisma is a type of euphemism derived from a Greek word meaning "pet name." The English word hypocorism may be defined as "the diminutive or otherwise altered version of a given name." The use of diminutives and pet names is usually an indication of affection or intimacy, but sometimes hypocorisma is used to diminish, infantilize, or insult. For example, the


Updated Stem Cell Clinical Trial Results for Stargardt Disease and Dry Macular Degeneration

Please note: this is an older post and much has changed since the time of publication. For more current information, see Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Progress of Stem Cell Research for Eye Disease? Answer: It Has a Very Long Way to Go. Also see the author's updates, below. On October 14, 2014, Ocata Therapeutics (formerly Advanced Cell Technology, Inc.) announced positive


Eye Injury Prevention Month: Halloween, Lady Gaga, and Cosmetic Contact Lenses

Every year, during Eye Injury Prevention Month – and as Halloween approaches – I begin fielding questions from neighbors, friends, and colleagues about the safety of circle (also called "cosmetic" or "costume") contact lenses. For the uninitiated, "circle lenses," which first became popular in Asia approximately ten years ago, are contact lenses that give the wearer a doll-eyed or doe-eyed "innocent" look: Venus Palermo, the "Human Barbie Doll" What are Circle or Cosmetic Contact Lenses? Here is more information about


New Research Demonstrates that Changes in the Eye and Retina Can Predict the Onset of Dementia

A group of United States-based researchers has discovered a direct correlation with functional cell loss in the retina and signs of dementia in people with a genetic risk for fronto-temporal dementia (FTD). The study also demonstrates that changes in the retina occur much earlier than do the dementia-related changes that appear in an individual's behavior. The Journal of Experimental Medicine This cutting-edge eye/brain research was published in the September 2014 issue of


Celebrating White Cane Safety Day and Blind Americans Equality Day: October 15, 2014

White Cane Safety Day is an international observance that is celebrated on October 15 of each year since 1964. Its purpose is to (a) celebrate the achievements of people who are blind or visually impaired and (b) acknowledge and pay tribute to the long white cane, a critically important mobility tool and potent symbol of independence. In 2011, White Cane Safety Day was also declared


Newly-Discovered Corneal Stem Cells Could Be a Potential Source for Treatment of Retinal Disease

New research from the United Kingdom has demonstrated that stem cells found in the cornea could provide a source of photoreceptor cells for transplant in persons with degenerative retinal conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa. Please note: This "proof of concept" research is in its earliest stages and has been conducted only with laboratory mice. Human clinical trials using corneal stem cells will likely not begin until 2019 or 2020, at


The FDA Approves Injectable Implant ILUVIEN for Treatment of Diabetic Macular Edema

On September 26, 2014, Alimera Sciences, Inc. announced that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Iluvien for the treatment of diabetic macular edema in persons who have been previously treated with a course of corticosteroids and did not have a clinically significant rise in intraocular pressure. Alimera Sciences, Inc., headquartered in Alpharetta,


New CDC Research Investigates the Association Between Vision Loss and Quality of Life

A major new study from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has investigated the association between visual impairment and health-related quality of life among adults aged 65 and older. The research concludes that poor health-related quality of life is strongly associated with the severity of self-reported visual impairment among people aged 65 and older who participated in the study. Participants who reported "moderate/severe" visual impairment showed a strong, consistent association with poor health-related quality of life.


What's New in iOS 8 Accessibility Part 2: Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and a regional representative for the Region 8 Rocky Mountain area with the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. Most recently, Scott compiled his personal picks for book-reading apps and


Avastin Injection Dosages Can Vary Significantly When Prepared by Compounding Pharmacies

A new study has investigated the safety, sterility, and dosage consistency of Avastin, a lower-cost intravenous cancer drug that is used "off label," via eye injection, to treat a range of retinal disorders including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic macular edema, and retinal vein occlusion.


What's New in iOS 8 Accessibility Part 1: Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and a regional representative for the Region 8 Rocky Mountain area with the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. Most recently, Scott compiled his personal picks for book-reading apps and


Meet Lorraine Keller, Ph.D. and My Mobile Light™ Low Vision Aid at Technical Vision, Inc.

Lorraine Keller, Ph.D. is the CEO of Technical Vision, Inc., a medical equipment company specializing in the design and manufacture of quality personal assistive devices. Technical Vision's customers, many of whom are older adults, live every day with chronic, uncorrectable eye conditions. These conditions include macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal disease,


The True Ice Bucket Challenge: Never Saying "There's Nothing More that Can Be Done"

As the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association's Ice Bucket Challenge winds down, I can't help but regret that my friend Arthur (Artie) Kraemer (February 12, 1960 - June 12, 2012), who succumbed to ALS, didn't live to see the outpouring of support for the disease (a progressive, incurable neurodegenerative disorder) that claimed his life. Artie was totally disabled from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, and was,


In Clinical Trials: A Potential Self-Administered Treatment for Diabetic Macular Edema

Aerpio Therapeutics, Inc. is a new Cincinnati, Ohio-based biopharmaceutical company focused on developing new therapies for vascular [i.e., blood vessel] diseases, including diabetic macular edema (DME) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This week, Aerpio announced positive clinical trial results for


Is Glaucoma a Genetic Disease? Three New Research Projects Pinpoint Six Specific Genes

Three new research projects exploring the role of genes – and six genes in particular – as possible causes of glaucoma have been published simultaneously in the August 31, 2014 online edition of Nature Genetics. Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a publisher of scientific and medical information in print and online. NPG publishes a range of journals across the life, physical, chemical, and applied sciences and clinical medicine. Although research scientists are the primary audience, news summaries and articles make many of


New Research: Do People with Macular Degeneration Under-Report Their Smoking Rates?

New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham has investigated the possible under-reporting of smoking – regarded as a major modifiable risk factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – by persons with the disease. The study concludes that "the rate of possible smoking deception [appears] higher for macular degeneration and those at risk of late-stage AMD than is generally reported in the US population." The research, entitled


Do People with Glaucoma Read Less and Engage Less with Reading Tasks? New Research Says Yes

New glaucoma research from Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, the official journal of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), indicates that persons with glaucoma read less, have reduced reading skills, and have less engagement with tasks that require sustained reading. The authors conclude that additional research is critically necessary to define the best reading methods in persons with glaucoma by (a) using


Meet Kooshay Malek, MA, MFT, Marriage and Family Therapist – Who Also Happens to Be Blind

Kooshay Malek, MA, MFT, is a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, California. She also writes for the Discovery Eye Foundation Blog, which features lively, up-to-date information on eye disease, eye research, nutrition, low vision, technology, and healthy lifestyle choices. The following essay, in which Kooshay recounts her concurrent personal, medical, and educational journeys from Tehran to Boston to Los Angeles, was first published on the Discovery Eye Blog as


The FDA Approves EYLEA Injection for the Treatment of Diabetic Macular Edema

Some good news for individuals who have diabetes and associated diabetic macular edema: On July 29, 2014, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved EYLEA (generic name aflibercept) for the treatment of diabetic macular edema. The recommended dosage is two milligrams (mg) every two


Do Doctors Approach Macular Degeneration Differently When Treating Themselves?

Do retinal physicians approach wet age-related macular degeneration differently when treating themselves versus treating their patients? This question was explored in a recent presentation by Jonathan Prenner, M.D., at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Retina Specialists in San Diego, California. The mission of the American Society of Retina Specialists is to provide a scientific forum for education, advance the understanding and treatment of retinal diseases, and


Film Lovers! The Department of Justice Wants to Hear from You About Audio Description

On August 1, 2014, the United States Department of Justice issued the following notice of proposed rulemaking regarding Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations—Theaters, Movie Captioning, and Audio Description: Summary: The Department of Justice (Department) is issuing this notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in order to propose amendments to its regulation for title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which


Google's Prototype "Smart Contact Lens": Measuring Blood Glucose Levels for People with Diabetes

Earlier this year, Google unveiled a prototype "smart" contact lens to monitor blood glucose levels contained in human tears. The Smart Contact Lens Project, which had been percolating in the top-secret Google X lab for several years, debuted a potential, although long-term, solution for effective blood glucose control in people with diabetes. January 2014: Google Unveils the Smart Contact Lens Here is an excerpt from the January 2014 announcement, via the official


Meet Robert Wall Emerson, Ph.D. and the Newly-Funded "Better Long White Cane" Project

Robert Wall Emerson, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at Western Michigan University (WMU) in Kalamazoo. Dr. Wall Emerson, in conjunction with WMU colleagues Dae Shik Kim, Ph.D. (the principal investigator) and Koorosh Naghshineh, Ph.D., is the recent recipient of a $421,125 grant award from the National Institutes of Health/National Eye Institute. The three-year grant, entitled


Alzheimer Research: Cataract Surgery for People with Dementia Improves Vision and Quality of Life

Results from a new clinical trial, presented at the July 2014 Alzheimer's Association International Conference, suggest that cataract surgery may slow mental decline in people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Preliminary study results indicate that improved vision, resulting from cataract surgery, can have a variety of benefits – both visual and non-visual – for people with dementia. The


New Glaucoma Research: Is Acute Glaucoma Actually an Inflammatory Disease?

Researchers from the United States and China have demonstrated that (a) acute glaucoma in mice presents as an inflammatory disease and (b) elevated eye pressure causes vision loss by setting in motion an inflammatory response similar to that evoked by bacterial infections. This research is in its earliest stages and has been conducted only with laboratory mice. Nevertheless, the concept shows great promise for persons with acute glaucoma. The research, entitled Caspase-8 promotes NLRP1/NLRP3 inflammasome activation and IL-1ß production in acute glaucoma (explained below) was


Integrated Low Vision and Mental Health Treatment Can Reduce or Prevent Depression

The first clinical trial to examine integrated low vision and mental health treatment – bridging ophthalmology, optometry, psychiatry, psychology, and rehabilitation – has demonstrated that an interdisciplinary rehabilitation program can reduce the incidence of depression by half among older adults with low vision due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Ophthalmology: the Journal The research, entitled Low Vision Depression Prevention Trial in Age-Related Macular


Does Treating Macular Degeneration Lead to Improved Quality of Life? New Research Says Yes

A group of Australian researchers has demonstrated that treating wet age-related macular degeneration with Lucentis, Eylea, or Avastin injections not only increases patients' visual acuity – it can also improve their vision-related quality of life. Ophthalmology: the Journal The research, entitled The Impact of


Research in Progress: Making Artificial (or "Bionic") Vision Look More Like Natural Vision

Researchers from the United States and Europe are attempting to improve the quality of artificial vision, such as the images produced by the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis, also called the "bionic eye." Their preliminary laboratory research indicates that electrical stimulation of retinal cells can produce the same patterns of activity (or "natural vision") that occur when the retina views a moving object, including the ability to see shape, color, and depth. From the Journal Neuron The research, entitled


The Imago Maris Foundation: Sailing the Seas with an Integrated Blind and Sighted Crew

The Imago Maris Foundation, headquartered in Warsaw, Poland, recently launched an international program to promote sailing on the high seas, integrate crews of blind, visually impaired, and sighted sailors, and provide meaningful sailing and travel experiences. About the Imago Maris Foundation The primary goal of the Imago Maris Foundation is to promote the rehabilitation and integration of men and women who are blind or visually impaired through active participation in sea voyages; in addition, the Foundation seeks to demystify blindness by utilizing fully integrated (50% blind, 50% sighted) crews. Every person, regardless of visual status, performs all tasks related to the operation of the ship. According to


What Is Visual Ability? A New Study Looks at Low Vision Rehabilitation

Researchers associated with the Low Vision Research Network Study Group have identified a number of non-visual factors that can affect "visual ability" [i.e., a person's ability to perform everyday tasks that are dependent on vision] in a group of older adults participating in outpatient low vision rehabilitation. The study concludes that visual ability is an individualized "multidimensional construct" that includes a number of interrelated visual and non-visual factors, such as visual acuity, mobility, physical ability, depression measures, and cognition (thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering). In addition, the researchers note that the


Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Difference Between Low Vision and Legal Blindness?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet]. Since the earliest days of VisionAware.org, the following questions about the meaning of "legal blindness" consistently rank within the top information searches: What does legal blindness actually mean? Does legal blindness mean that someone is totally blind? My uncle says he is legally blind, but I think he has some vision. How can


It's Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) Appreciation Week: My Life as a VRT

Did you know that this week (June 22-28) is Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) Appreciation Week? Now you do. As a longtime – and proud – Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT), I have been asked by my colleagues to compose a paean, of sorts, to the "greatest profession." What Is a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist? Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (VRTs)


New Research: An Innovative Simulator Evaluates Eye Diseases and Driving Performance

The University of California, San Diego School of Medicine is the first ophthalmology department in the country to feature a fully dedicated, high-fidelity, realistic driving simulator to evaluate the effects of visual impairment, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, on an individual's driving performance. The UC San Diego driving simulatorSource: UC San Diego Health System Newsroom Located in the Visual Performance Laboratory of the


Meet the Vision Institute and StreetLab: Vision Research, Simulations, and Education in Paris

During Vision Research Month, it gives me great pleasure to highlight the work of the Vision Institute of Paris and its subsidiary StreetLab. Both organizations are committed to ongoing vision research, with StreetLab featuring complementary and innovative outreach methods to enhance accessibility, inclusion, public awareness, and education. The Vision Institute of Paris (L'Institut de la Vision de Paris) Located in the center of Paris, the Vision Institute is an interdisciplinary research center that addresses eye diseases, vision loss, environmental modification, and daily living skills through the


Is It Possible that Glaucoma Is a Brain Disease?

A group of American and Australian researchers is proposing that glaucoma may actually be a brain – not an eye – disease. Their research theorizes that it is the brain, not the eye, controlling the cellular process that results in glaucoma. The study, entitled Refined Data Analysis Provides Clinical Evidence for Central Nervous System Control of Chronic Glaucomatous Neurodegeneration, was published in the May 2014 issue of Translational Vision Science & Technology.


Meet Duane Geruschat, Ph.D. and the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis at Second Sight Medical Products

Duane Geruschat, Ph.D. specializes in rehabilitation research with persons who are blind and visually impaired. His primary interest is in low vision orientation and mobility. He is a certified orientation and mobility specialist (COMS) and a certified low vision therapist (CLVT). Dr. Geruschat began his career working at a school for children with multiple disabilities and


Optogenetics: The Next Frontier in Vision Research? The Foundation Fighting Blindness Explains

June is Vision Research Month – a perfect time to highlight the innovative, cutting-edge research programs of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, headquartered in Columbia, Maryland. The urgent mission of the Foundation is to drive the research that will provide preventions, treatments, and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration,


Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Is It Cognition or Is It Vision Loss? by Guest Blogger DeAnn Elliott

DeAnn Elliott is a blogger for The Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts, where she graduated in 2007 after losing her eyesight to retinitis pigmentosa. Via her posts to The Carroll Center blog and other sites, DeAnn explores the adventures and challenges of vision loss as it relates to family life, employment, rehabilitation training, disability advocacy, and sometimes dogs. Learn more about DeAnn at The


New Research: Rethinking Charles Bonnet Syndrome and Visual Hallucinations

Charles Bonnet ("Bo-NAY") Syndrome (CBS) is a condition that causes vivid, complex, recurrent visual hallucinations, usually in older adults with later-life vision loss from eye conditions that can include macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. The visual hallucinations associated with CBS can range from animated, colorful, dreamlike images to less complicated


Meet Aries Arditi, Ph.D., Founder and Principal Scientist of Visibility Metrics, LLC

Aries Arditi, Ph.D, is the founder and Principal Scientist of Visibility Metrics, LLC. Visibility Metrics is a new venture for Dr. Arditi, who has devoted his career to a variety of research interests in human visual perception, spanning basic and applied studies in the human factors of vision and visibility and studies of functional visual impairment, including low vision and blindness. Dr. Arditi spent most of his earlier research career at Lighthouse Guild International, with a brief two-year stint at the IBM Thomas J. Watson


Is a "Treat and Extend" Injection Regimen More Beneficial for Wet Macular Degeneration?

The treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has – by all accounts – been revolutionized by the successful use of the injectable drugs Eylea, Lucentis, and Avastin. Yet, despite this treatment revolution, significant questions remain about the most effective dosing schedule for these medications: Is it monthly injections, a pro re nata [i.e., "as


CDC Report: Aerobic Inactivity Linked to Increased Incidence of Chronic Disease in Adults with Disabilities

During this year's Healthy Vision Month, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new health-related Vital Signs report, entitled Inactivity Related to Chronic Disease in Adults with Disabilities, which notes that nearly 50 percent of U.S. adults with disabilities get no aerobic physical activity. Vital Signs is a monthly CDC report that provides the latest data and information on key health indicators. More from CDC The


New Research: Are Lucentis, Avastin, and Eylea Risk Factors for Increased Eye Pressure?

The injectable drugs Eylea, Lucentis, and Avastin have revolutionized the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Nevertheless, questions continue to arise regarding the risks and complications that accompany this delivery system. At present, these drugs require monthly injections or a pro re nata [i.e.,


Our Readers Want to Know: How Is a Vision Screening Different from a Comprehensive Eye Exam?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet]. Since the earliest days of VisionAware.org, the following questions about eye exams consistently rank within the top information searches: How can I keep my eyes healthy and prevent eye disease? What is the difference between a full eye examination and a shorter vision screening? About Healthy Vision Month During


Could Glaucoma Actually Be "Diabetes of the Brain"? A New Hypothesis Says Maybe

A group of medical researchers from India is proposing the radical new hypothesis that glaucoma may indeed be diabetes of the brain. The research, entitled Glaucoma – Diabetes of the brain: A radical hypothesis about its nature and pathogenesis [i.e., the mechanisms that cause it], has been published in the May 2014 issue of Medical Hypotheses. Published by Elsevier Inc., Medical Hypotheses is a forum


Guest Blogger Jeremiah Taylor: A Tribute to Wojtek Jacobi, My Orientation and Mobility Instructor

Guest blogger Jeremiah Taylor (pictured at left) is the founder and CEO of ProActive Sales, Inc., a full-service sales management company. In 1999, Jeremiah became suddenly and totally blind as a result of complications during routine back surgery. You can read more about Jeremiah's (and his wife Jo-Ann's) long, steady, and inspirational journey – from sudden blindness through rehabilitation to full employment – at the VisionAware website. In addition to his talents as a dynamic sales professional and motivational speaker,


New Adaptive Optics Technology Can Detect Very Early Microscopic Diabetes-Related Eye Damage

Researchers from the School of Optometry and the Department of Ophthalmology at Indiana University have developed new technology, based on the principles of adaptive optics, to detect the earliest warning signs of diabetic retinopathy. Previously, these microscopic changes were not detectable using standard diagnostic techniques. The research, entitled In vivo adaptive optics microvascular imaging in diabetic patients without clinically severe diabetic


New European Research: Is the Argus II (the "Bionic Eye") Cost-Effective?

A group of European researchers has undertaken an economic analysis of the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System (also called the "artificial retina" or "bionic eye") to assess the cost-effectiveness of the Argus II compared to standard care for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in Eurozone countries. To date, they have determined that the Argus II is cost-effective and provides quality-of-life health gains, based upon the projected life span of the Argus II, expected to be the lifetime of the user. [Editor's note: The European Union (EU) is a


Is It Possible to Predict Risk for Developing Macular Degeneration? A New Study Says Yes

When a close relative is diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), family members will often ask, "Will I get macular degeneration, too? What is the likelihood that this will happen to me? Is there any way to predict it?" A research group, composed of members from the United States and Australia, has attempted to answer those questions, via the development of a clinical eye-specific prediction model for advanced AMD. The researchers used eight predictors—age, sex, education level, race, smoking status, and the presence of pigment abnormality, soft


Why Do Some People Not Respond to Eye Injections for Macular Degeneration?

Although the advent of anti-VEGF therapy (explained below) has revolutionized the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), there are still a number of persons – although in the minority – who do not respond to treatment. It is these "non-responders" or "reduced responders" who continue to pose significant challenges to clinicians and researchers. Recently, a team of Japanese researchers attempted to identify a number of factors that could (a) predict non-response to intravitreal [i.e., into the eye] injections of Lucentis for wet AMD and (b) establish criteria


Meet the Discovery Eye Foundation and the Macular Degeneration Partnership

The Discovery Eye Foundation, headquartered in Los Angeles, California, has become an important ally of VisionAware.org, especially in the area of patient education for macular degeneration. The primary mission of the Discovery Eye Foundation is twofold: Funding cutting-edge research to find new treatments and cures for retinal and corneal eye diseases Empowering people with up-to-date, accurate information and personalized support through their component programs: the Macular Degeneration


A Potential Intravenous Treatment for Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Interleukin-18

A research group, composed of members from the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, has determined that a protein called interleukin-18 (IL-18), which is a component of the immune system linked to inflammatory disorders, has the ability to suppress production of the harmful bleeding/leaking blood vessels that characterize wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In addition, the researchers have demonstrated that IL-18 can be administered intravenously, which, if proven successful in human clinical trials, could offer advantages over the current treatment


My Top Book-Reading Apps for Braille Users by Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and a Senior Instructor in the Adaptive Technology Department and Communications Learning Center at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. Most recently, Scott compiled his top picks for news apps that are user-friendly and accessible to braille users. This week, Scott reviews his personal picks for the top book-reading apps for braille users.


Maintaining a Glaucoma Medication Regimen: What Factors Do – or Don't – Promote Adherence?

A critical component of glaucoma care, and one that physicians continuously stress, is the importance of adhering to a therapeutic eye drop regimen for glaucoma. In order for the medication to lower intraocular pressure effectively, consistent adherence to the prescribed eye drop regimen is essential. Yet, by most accounts, non-adherence – both intentional and unintentional – remains problematic. Barriers to adherence include the asymptomatic nature [i.e., exhibiting no


An Efficient Practice and Good Patient Communication: Is It Possible to Have Both? A Glaucoma Case Study

One of the most pressing contemporary challenges confronting ophthalmologists and optometrists is balancing efficiency of practice management with quality of patient care, including time spent speaking directly with patients. At Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, Michael V. Boland, MD, PhD, and Ravi R. Pandit, a fourth-year MD/MPH student, have been exploring this issue as it relates to the Glaucoma Center of Excellence at Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Quality of care - from the patient's point of view - is also examined in the documentary film


A Continuing Clinical Trial for Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

One of the most significant challenges facing eye and vision researchers is the development of an effective treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although there are now a number of well-regarded FDA-approved drug treatments for wet AMD, the key to effective dry AMD treatment remains elusive. Current treatments for dry AMD include a number of non-drug-related measures, including (a) nutritional supplements recommended by the Age-Related Eye Disease


My Top App Picks for iDevices by Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team and Accessibility Specialist

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, (at left) is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and a Senior Instructor in the Adaptive Technology Department and Communications Learning Center at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. Most recently, Scott compiled his Top Ten List of useful tips for braille users of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, based upon his personal experience and his work


New Research: Early-Stage Glaucoma Damage Can Sometimes Be Missed by Visual Field Index Test

During World Glaucoma Week, it is helpful – and instructive – to listen to discussions within the medical community about issues that are critically important to people with glaucoma. One such issue relates to a major challenge in the management of glaucoma: how to best determine the severity of the disease, estimate the rate of glaucoma progression, initiate appropriate treatment, and adjust treatment when necessary. In persons with glaucoma, it is the visual field that is the most important functional measure of the severity of the disease and its


Surprising New Research from the National Eye Institute on Surgical Options for Congenital Cataracts

For adults who undergo cataract surgery, implantation of an artificial lens, also called an intraocular [i.e., within the eye] lens, or IOL, has been the standard of care for many years. However, an ongoing clinical trial, sponsored in part by the National Eye Institute, suggests that for many infants, surgery followed by the use of contact lenses for several years – and an eventual lens implant – may be a better solution. The research, entitled


Our Readers Want to Know: Can I Continue Woodworking with Vision Loss?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet]. The following questions about home repair and workshop safety with low vision or blindness consistently appear in VisionAware's information queries: Do I have to give up woodworking now that I'm blind? I have low vision. How can I make simple repairs around the house? An Answer from Blind Woodworker Gil Johnson This week, during Workplace


Part 2: Ten Braille Tips for iDevices by Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team and Accessibility Specialist

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, (at left) is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and a Senior Instructor in the Adaptive Technology Department and Communications Learning Center at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. Previously, Scott has reviewed new accessibility features in iOS 7, RoboBraille, and the Humanware Communicator app. In his latest review, Scott


Part 1: Ten Braille Tips for iDevices by Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team and Accessibility Specialist

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, (at left) is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and a Senior Instructor in the Adaptive Technology Department and Communications Learning Center at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. Previously, Scott has reviewed new accessibility features in iOS 7, RoboBraille, and the Humanware Communicator app In his latest review, Scott has


Meet a Bold Blind Beauty and a Deafblind Mother: VisionAware's Blogroll Spotlight

It's time for some VisionAware blogroll love once again. As I explained in my introductory "blogroll love" post, ... the VisionAware "blind bloggers" collective is a marvelous way to position my favorite bloggers front-and-center. You'll discover outstanding writing – and not only about blindness issues. My favorite bloggers are people who happen to be blind – and have much to say about the simple act of being deeply human. This week, I'd like you to meet two talented and thought-provoking bloggers whose subject matter ranges from fashion and beauty to living well with deafblindness. Bold Blind Beauty Stephanae (Steph) McCoy is the spirited fashionista who


New Research: Vision Loss from Advanced Macular Degeneration Remains "Progressive and Relentless"

The original Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), first launched in 1992, was a major clinical trial sponsored by the National Eye Institute to (a) learn more about the history of, and risk factors for, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract and (b) evaluate the effect of high doses of antioxidants and zinc on the progression of AMD and cataract. Since that time, the ongoing AREDS trials have produced a number of breakthrough discoveries, including last


Meet the Authors of Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight

This week, during National Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Low Vision Awareness Month, VisionAware is pleased to feature the definitive resource for patients and families who must grapple with the sometimes-shocking – and always difficult – diagnosis of AMD: Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight by Lylas G. Mogk, M.D. and Marja Mogk, Ph.D. About the Authors Lylas G. Mogk, M.D. Dr. Mogk is the


A Potential Eye Drop Treatment for Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration

Researchers have identified a possible topical [i.e., eye drop] treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that is capable of inhibiting the characteristic symptoms of both the dry and wet forms of AMD. This "proof of concept" research is in its earliest stages and has been conducted only with laboratory mice. Nevertheless, the concept of a possible topical treatment shows promise for persons with AMD. The study, entitled Topical


Newest Therapies for Macular Degeneration are Reducing Vision Loss and Admissions to Long-Term Care

Here is some good news during National Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month. Two economists from Duke University have presented evidence that within the past ten years, since the introduction of anti-VEGF therapies (Lucentis, Avastin, and Eylea), older Americans with "wet" or exudative macular degeneration are less likely to experience


Vanda Receives FDA Approval for Hetlioz, First Drug to Regulate Sleep Patterns of Blind People

On January 31, 2014, Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved Hetlioz™ (tasimelteon) 20 mg. capsules for the treatment of "Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder" (Non-24). Hetlioz is the first FDA-approved medication for Non-24. Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder (Non-24) is a serious, rare circadian rhythm disorder that affects a majority of totally blind individuals who lack light perception and cannot reset their master body clocks to the 24-hour day. In the United States, this disorder affects approximately 80,000 totally blind individuals who lack the light sensitivity necessary to


Our Readers Want to Know: What Are the Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet]. Every month, questions about macular degeneration (AMD), including risks, treatments, and helpful resources, consistently rank among the top twenty queries: My husband and I both have macular degeneration What are the chances of my children inheriting our eye problems? Can the right diet help to prevent macular degeneration? An Answer from Lylas G. Mogk, M.D. <img src="/image.asp?ImageID=3558"


Braille Literacy Awareness Month: The Genius of Louis Braille and the Raphigraphe Printer

A miniature portrait of Louis Braille on ivory by Lucienne Filipp During Braille Literacy Awareness Month, VisionAware is celebrating the life and work of Louis Braille (January 4, 1809 – January 6, 1852), the creator of the braille code, which revolutionized reading and writing for blind people throughout the world. Our month-long Louis Braille celebration has featured the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) online Louis Braille Museum and the definitive biography


Guest Blogger Jeremiah Taylor Reviews Descriptive Audio Narration for "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Guest blogger Jeremiah Taylor (pictured at left with his wife Jo-Ann) is the founder and CEO of ProActive Sales, Inc., a full-service sales management company. In 1999, Jeremiah became suddenly and totally blind as a result of complications during routine back surgery. You can read more about Jeremiah's (and Jo-Ann's) long, steady, and inspirational journey – from sudden blindness through rehabilitation to full employment – at the VisionAware website. In addition to his talents as a dynamic sales professional and motivational speaker,


Glaucoma Progression and Sleep Position: Are They Related?

A group of South Korean and American researchers have investigated the relationship between preferred sleeping position and asymmetric [i.e., not identical in both eyes] visual field loss in subjects with glaucoma. Their results suggest that the sleep position habitually preferred by the study participants [i.e., lying on the same side of the body as the eye with the greater visual field loss] could be a factor that contributes to glaucoma progression. (Please note: The researchers did not determine that sleep position caused asymmetric field loss; they only determined that sleep position


Can Gene Therapy Provide a Cure for Retinal Disease? An Early-Stage Clinical Trial Says "Maybe"

A group of international researchers from the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, and Portugal have used gene therapy in a clinical trial to treat a small group of male subjects with choroideremia, a rare degenerative eye disease. This early-stage clinical trial demonstrates potential for the use of gene therapy to treat a number of additional retinal diseases, including age-related macular degeneration. The research, entitled Retinal gene therapy in patients with choroideremia: initial


Braille Literacy Awareness Month: The Genius of Louis Braille

During Braille Literacy Awareness Month, VisionAware is celebrating the life and work of Louis Braille (January 4, 1809 – January 6, 1852), the creator of the braille code, which revolutionized reading and writing for blind people throughout the world. Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius This week, our Louis Braille celebration features Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius, authored by C. Michael Mellor and published by National Braille Press. The


Why Do We Fear the Blind? My Answer: I Don't. Do You?

Rosemary Mahoney, author of the forthcoming (January 14, 2014) book For the Benefit of Those Who See: Dispatches from the World of the Blind, has published a provocative op-ed "teaser" for her book in the January 4, 2014 edition of the New York Times. Entitled Why Do We Fear the Blind?, Ms. Mahoney's op-ed describes her work as an English teacher of blind students at the


The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field: 2014 Nominations

The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is currently accepting nominations for 2014. The nominating deadline is Friday, March 28, 2014. About the Hall of Fame The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field honors, at present, 52 individuals who were pioneers in the blindness field and shaped the field's history, philosophy, knowledge, and skills, while providing outstanding service to people who were blind and visually impaired. During my visit to the Hall of Fame in 2012, I was in awe as I read the biographies of


Braille Literacy Awareness Month: It All Began 205 Years Ago with Louis Braille

It's appropriate to begin our celebration of Braille Literacy Awareness Month with a profile of Louis Braille (January 4, 1809 – January 6, 1852), creator of the braille code. His elegant and enduring code revolutionized reading and writing for blind people throughout the world. The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Online Louis Braille Museum AFB's online Louis Braille Museum is a rich repository of photographs, documents, and historical texts that illustrate the life and legacy of Louis Braille, the creator


Our Readers Want to Know: How Can I Travel Safely Outdoors if I'm Blind or have Low Vision?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet]. The following questions about outdoor travel with low vision or blindness consistently rank within VisionAware's top twenty information searches: What is orientation and mobility? How can I travel outside if I can't see? Is it safe to walk outside with just a white cane? An Answer from Dona Sauerburger, COMS <img src="/image.asp?ImageID=3521" style="margin:0 10px 10px 0;"


Researchers in the United Kingdom Create Viable Retinal Cells via Inkjet Printing Technology

Here is some interesting – and startling – scientific news as we enter 2014: Researchers from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom have used inkjet printing technology to successfully print retinal cells. The results provide "proof of concept" that an inkjet printer can be used to print two types of retinal cells from adult rats: ganglion cells and glial cells. Ganglion cells are a type of nerve cell that is found in the retina. Glia are non-nerve cells that provide support and protection for neurons in the brain and nervous system. This


H.R. 3749: The Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act of 2013

Guest blogger Mark Richert, Esq. is an attorney with extensive experience in public policy and governmental relations in the vision loss field and is the Director of the Public Policy Center of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). The AFB Public Policy Center, in Washington, DC, collaborates with policy makers in Congress and the Executive Branch to ensure that Americans with vision loss have equal rights and opportunities to fully participate in society. As Director, Mark is AFB's primary representative to the United States Congress and to


New Research: Do Adults with Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma Stay Closer to Home?

Researchers from Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging have presented evidence that older Americans with age-related macular degeneration tend not to travel as far from home as older adults with unimpaired vision. This was not the case, however, among the study subjects with glaucoma, even though both conditions cause vision loss which generally makes travel more difficult. The research, entitled Alteration of Travel Patterns with Vision Loss from Glaucoma and Macular


New Research from Australia: Does Cataract Surgery Increase the Risk of Falling?

A new Australian study suggests (but does not definitively prove) that older adults with cataracts appear to double their risk of falling after cataract surgery on the first eye and before surgery on the second. The finding that cataract surgery may – at least temporarily – be linked to an increase in falls comes after years of conflicting study results on the subject. The research, entitled


In Development: A Contact Lens to Deliver Glaucoma Medication

A team of American researchers has developed a contact lens that can deliver a regulated dose of the glaucoma drug latanoprost for up to a month. The lenses encase a thin film of the drug inside the edges of the absorbent plastic used to make contact lenses. They have not yet been tested on human subjects, but appear to be safe in cell culture and animal studies. The research, entitled In vivo performance of a drug-eluting contact lens to treat glaucoma for a month, is available


Out of the Whirlpool: The Story of a Suicide Attempt Survivor and the Rebuilding of a Life

Sue Wiygul Martin is the author of a just-published personal memoir, entitled Out of the Whirlpool: A Memoir of Remorse and Reconciliation, which she describes as "the story of a suicide attempt survivor and the rebuilding of a life." Out of the Whirlpool, which began as a series of blog posts, describes Sue's suicide attempt at age 26, her subsequent blindness, and the long, hard road she follows to rebuild her life – and herself – as a blind person and blind rehabilitation professional. Sue, who is a


Can Insufficient Lighting Account for Vision Disparities between the Doctor's Office and Home?

A team of American researchers has presented evidence that vision measured in the clinic is generally better than vision measured at home and conclude that vision discrepancies between patient reports and clinical testing may be due, in part, to poor or inappropriate home lighting. The research, entitled Differences in Vision between Clinic and Home and the Effect of Lighting in Older Adults with and Without Glaucoma, was published in the November 21, 2013 issue of


A Festive Thanksgiving Cocktail with Low Vision and Blindness Adaptations

As the holiday season approaches, creative drinks and cocktails are in demand! We especially like this non-alcoholic, easy-to-assemble drink – along with adaptations for our favorite blind and visually impaired "mixologists." Apple Cider Milkshake From MaryBeth at Dunkin Cooking the Semi-Homemade Way (used with permission), who says this about the Apple Cider Milkshake: "I highly recommend giving this a try. It's a great-tasting shake and an excellent way to enjoy the taste of apples." Ingredients: 6 scoops vanilla ice cream 1¼ cups


A Home Monitoring Program for Age-Related Macular Degeneration: the ForeseeHome

The results of the HOme Monitoring of the Eye study, a subset of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), were presented last week at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) in New Orleans, Louisiana, November 16-19, 2013. The study revealed that participants at high risk for developing wet (or neovascular) age-related macular degeneration (AMD) who used the ForeseeHome AMD


Guest Blogger Jeremiah Taylor Goes to the Movies with a New Descriptive Audio Narration System

Guest blogger Jeremiah Taylor (pictured at left with his wife Jo-Ann) is the founder and CEO of ProActive Sales, Inc., a full-service sales management company. In 1999, Jeremiah became suddenly and totally blind as a result of complications during routine back surgery. You can read more about Jeremiah's (and Jo-Ann's) long, steady, and inspirational journey – from sudden blindness through rehabilitation to full employment – at the VisionAware website. In addition to his talents as a dynamic sales professional and motivational speaker,


Is There an Association between Macular Degeneration and Alzheimer's Disease or Dementia?

A team of British researchers has determined that there is no positive association between age-related macular degeneration (AMD) Alzheimer's disease (AD) or dementia. The study findings do indicate, however, that people in England with dementia may be less likely to receive treatment for AMD. The research, entitled Associations between Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Alzheimer Disease, and Dementia: Record Linkage Study of Hospital Admissions, was published in the November 14, 2013 issue of


A MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Award for Artificial Retina Research

Sheila Nirenberg, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist whose research is focused on the development of alternative approaches to restoring sight after photoreceptor cell degeneration. She is an associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, where she studies neural coding: how the brain takes information from the outside world and encodes it in patterns of electrical activity. What her work could mean for people with retinal disease, from macular degeneration and


On Veterans Day: Six Weeks at a Veterans Administration Blind Rehabilitation Center

Veteran William (Bill) McGee and his wife Sandra are the owners of BMC Publications. One of their many excellent publications is Learning to Cope with Sight Loss: Six Weeks at a VA Blind Rehabilitation Center, an illustrated 36-page booklet with a companion audio CD. About Six Weeks Six Weeks provides an informative personal account of Bill's experiences when, after receiving a diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration, he made the decision to


Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Difference Between Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet]. Since the earliest days of VisionAware.org, the following questions about blood glucose levels and diabetes consistently rank within the five most popular searches: How do blood glucose levels relate to diabetes? What is the difference between hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia? An Answer from Debra Sokol-McKay, MS, CVRT, CDE This week, during


An Interview with Dr. Yonatan Wexler, Head of Research and Development at OrCam

VisionAware is pleased to speak with Dr. Yonatan Wexler, the head of Research and Development at OrCam, an Israeli start-up company founded in 2010 by Amnon Shashua, Sachs Professor of Computer Science at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The mission of OrCam is to develop a "portable, wearable visual system with 'human-like' capabilities" for blind and visually impaired persons, via the use of artificial computer intelligence and augmented reality. The OrCam is based on a computer algorithm that Professor Shashua has pioneered with Dr. Wexler and


"Going Blind" and "Getting Started": A Dynamic Combination

Going Blind: Coming out of the Dark about Vision Loss is a documentary film in which producer/director Joseph Lovett documents his own experience of gradual vision loss from glaucoma and his sometimes-difficult journey through the "secret world," as he calls it, of vision rehabilitation. Going Blind also tells the personal stories of everyday people who are living, coping, and ultimately thriving with blindness and


What Is Optic Flow? Why Is It Important for People with Low Vision?

New research from Indiana University is investigating how "optic flow," or setting objects and scenes in motion, can help people who have low vision to interpret and comprehend the blurred images they typically encounter in everyday life. According to the researchers, the concept of optic flow "has important implications for understanding the daily functioning of [persons] with low vision." The research, entitled With an Eye to Low Vision: Optic Flow Enables


Gil Johnson, His Guide Dog Harley, and The Seeing Eye: Learning to Be an Even Better Team

Gil Johnson is a talented woodworker and the author of Gil's Guide to Woodworking, Gil's Guide to Home Repairs and Parenting or Grandparenting with Vision Loss on the VisionAware website. Earlier this year, Gil kept a diary during his time at


Could the Loss of an Anti-Aging Gene Contribute to Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration?

A team of researchers has determined that the loss of a particular anti-aging, or aging-suppressor, gene – known as Klotho protein (KL) – induces retinal deterioration in mice and may contribute to both wet and dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The KL gene helps to protect against oxidative stress, which causes dry AMD, and inhibits harmful blood vessel growth in the eye, which is the primary cause of


Part 3: What's New in iOS 7 by Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team and Accessibility Specialist

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, (at left) is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and a Senior Instructor in the Adaptive Technology Department and Communications Learning Center at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. This month, Scott is reviewing the new iOS 7 release from Apple, with an emphasis on accessibility features for individuals who are blind, deaf-blind, or have low vision. iOS is Apple's mobile operating system, or OS. Originally developed for the iPhone, it has since been extended to support


Part 2: What's New in iOS 7 by Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team and Accessibility Specialist

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, (at left) is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and a Senior Instructor in the Adaptive Technology Department and Communications Learning Center at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. Previously, Scott has reviewed RoboBraille: Enhancing Document Accessibility, and the Humanware Communicator app, which facilitates communication between deaf-blind and sighted and hearing users. This


Our Readers Want to Know: What Is "Reasonable Accommodation"?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware.org, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet]. The following questions about employment with a disability – specifically blindness or low vision – consistently rank within VisionAware's top twenty information searches: What does "reasonable accommodation" mean? How can I talk to my employer about reasonable accommodation? National Disability Employment Awareness Month <img src="/image.asp?ImageID=4955"


Part 1: What's New in iOS 7 by Scott Davert, AppleVis Editorial Team and Accessibility Specialist

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, (at left) is an AppleVis Editorial Team Member and a Senior Instructor in the Adaptive Technology Department and Communications Learning Center at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. Previously, Scott has reviewed RoboBraille: Enhancing Document Accessibility, and the Humanware Communicator app, which facilitates communication between deaf-blind and sighted and hearing users. This


Where I've Been: My Blindness Work in Central Europe

Last month, I took a break from my duties at VisionAware.org to visit Central Europe, teach in the post-graduate Low Vision Therapy program at the Akademia Pedagogiki Specjalnej im. Marii Grzegorzewskiej (the Maria Grzegorzewska Academy of Special Education) in Warsaw, and attend a Board of Directors meeting for the Kielce-based VEGA Foundation, directed by my longtime friend and colleague Agnieszka (Agnes) Janicka-Maj.


New Research Targets a Potential Cause of Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

A consortium of research groups from Finland, Italy, Germany, Hungary, and Saudi Arabia have provided laboratory evidence (via cell cultures and human tissue samples) that the degenerative changes characterizing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – specifically dry AMD, for which there is no current treatment or cure – are caused by impaired function of the body's cellular "digestion" and "clean-up" mechanism, called autophagy, in the retina. Autophagy, a basic biological and metabolic process, "self-eats" cellular


Social Security Administration's "Ticket to Work" Program to Host Free Self-Employment Webinar

The Social Security Administration's (SSA) Ticket to Work program will host a free webinar on self-employment through the Ticket program on Wednesday, August 28, 2013, from 3:00-4:30 PM EDT. SSA's team of disability benefits experts will present a Work Incentive Seminar Event (WISE) webinar titled Working for Yourself with Ticket to Work: Achieving Financial Independence, for people aged 18-64 who receive disability benefits and are interested in employment and self-employment. The webinar will provide an overview of


The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis ("Bionic Eye") Receives Medicare Approval

On August 15, 2013, Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. announced that its Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System has been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for both a new technology add-on payment (inpatient setting of care) and a transitional pass through payment (outpatient setting of care) beginning October 1, 2013. You can read the complete announcement at the Second Sight website. The Argus II Implantation Centers In July, Second Sight Medical Products,


Accessibility Barriers in Medical and Health Care for People with Vision Loss: Real Issues, Real Problems

Last year, the Equal Rights Center (ERC) released a report documenting significant violations of federal accessibility requirements at hospitals, doctors' offices, and pharmacies across the nation. The report, entitled Ill-Prepared: Health Care's Barriers for People with Disabilities, reveals that fewer than 25% of medical service providers tested in the report were compliant with accessibility standards required under federal law. The Equal Rights Center (ERC) is a national non-profit


Our Readers Want to Know: When Should I Have Cataract Surgery?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet]. Since the earliest days of VisionAware.org, the following questions about cataract surgery consistently rank within the five most popular searches: When should an individual have cataract surgery? How long is the recovery time after cataract surgery? An Answer from Tina D. Turner, M.D. This week, our answer comes from


A New Independent Living Series from Hadley School for the Blind

As our readers know, I have great admiration for the ongoing – and important – educational commitment of The Hadley School for the Blind. The mission of Hadley is to promote independent living through lifelong distance education programs for people who are blind or visually impaired, their families, and blindness service providers. A New "Mini-Course" Independent Living Series from Hadley Hadley's new Independent Living series takes a mini-course approach, allowing students to focus on a specific aspect of independent living, based on individual needs and interests. The


Google Glass Applications for Blind and Visually Impaired Users

Brandyn White and Andrew Miller are computer science Ph.D. students and the principals of Dapper Vision, which provides "computer vision consulting and development with a focus on web-scale, mobile, and cloud applications." They are also spearheading, via Dapper Vision, the OpenGlass Project, which is using emerging Google Glass technology to develop applications that can help blind and visually impaired users identify objects and environments via crowd-sourcing technologies and feedback. About Google Glass: the Basics


Ford Motor Company and University of Cambridge: Research on Driving and Age-Related Vision Changes

The Ford Motor Company is teaming with the University of Cambridge Engineering Design Center to create automobile controls and displays that are responsive to the needs of the growing numbers of adults with age-related vision changes. Age-Related Vision Changes Just as the body undergoes age-related changes, our eyes undergo similar age-related changes as well. Many of these vision and eye changes are normal and are not caused by disease or illness. They can, however, make it difficult to perform many everyday activities, such as reading small print and seeing


New Research to Curb Harmful Blood Vessel Growth in Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Retinopathy

Researchers working in conjunction with the University College London (UCL) Institute of Ophthalmology have discovered a protein of previously unknown function (leucine-rich alpha-2-glycoprotein 1, or LRG1), which has been found to contribute to the growth of the harmful bleeding/leaking blood vessels that accompany age-related macular degeneration and proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This research is in its earliest stages and has been


My Experience at the Signing of the ADA by Judy Scott

Guest blogger Judy Scott is the former Director of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Center on Vision Loss in Dallas, Texas. Opened in 2006, the Center on Vision Loss is a 9,000-square-foot training facility that educates people with vision loss and their family members – along with the healthcare, construction, and design professions – about ways to create environments that promote independent and healthy living. In honor of the anniversary of the


Brain Research and Vision: Can You See by Hearing?

Cognitive scientists in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have published initial research results about the "vOICe," a sensory substitution device (SSD) that could someday compensate for vision loss, in the June 2013 issue of Frontiers in Cognitive Science. The vOICe (at left) is a visual-to-auditory SSD that encodes images taken by a camera worn by the user into "soundscapes," enabling users to extract information about their surroundings. The Frontiers group is an open-access, peer-reviewed academic publisher and


In Spain, Researchers Regenerate Retina in Mice: the Laboratory Results

Recently, I learned about a fascinating study in which researchers from the Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona, Spain have identified a pathway that triggers the reprogramming and regeneration of retinal neurons in the eye; in addition, they have regenerated mouse retinal tissue through cell reprogramming This research is in its earliest stages and has been conducted only with laboratory mice. Nevertheless, the concept shows great promise for persons with retinal disease. The study, entitled


The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis ("Bionic Eye") to Be Offered in 12 US Implantation Centers

Second Sight Medical Products, Inc., of Sylmar, California, has announced that its Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System, also called the "artificial retina" or "bionic eye," will be offered in 12 implantation centers across the United States to treat patients with severe to profound retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The mission of Second Sight is to "develop, manufacture, and market implantable visual prosthetics to enable blind individuals to achieve greater independence."


Update: An Employment Mentoring Project for Students and Professionals with Vision Loss

As our readers know, I admire and support the ongoing – and critically important – work of the Mississippi State University (MSU) National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC). The mission of the NRTC is to enhance employment and independent living outcomes for individuals who are blind or visually impaired through research, training, education, and dissemination of project results. Previously, I've blogged about a number of significant NRTC projects, including the Online Participant Registry for Blindness


New Research: Contact Lenses with a Built-In Telescopic Zoom for Macular Degeneration

Information about a new contact lens device, now in development (although not yet in clinical trials), that may benefit people with macular degeneration has been published in the July 1, 2013 issue of Optics Express. Optics Express, the international online journal of optics, is an all-electronic, open-access journal that publishes peer-reviewed articles emphasizing scientific and technological innovations in all aspects of optics and photonics. About the Contact Lens


A New Low Vision Publication from the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International

The Council of Citizens with Low Vision International (CCLVI) has just published Insights into Low Vision, a compilation of tools, tips, techniques, and research updates for peer advocates, family members, professionals, and individuals with low vision. Here is more information about this much-needed publication from the CCLVI website: CCLVI's new publication, Insights into Low Vision … has articles by 26 authors, all nationally-known specialists in


Echolocation: A Case Study by Guest Blogger Marta Fonmudeh, Vision Australia

Guest blogger Marta Fonmudeh, M.Ed, is an Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist and Senior Practitioner with Vision Australia. As Senior Practitioner, Marta oversees the professional development and clinical supervision of all O&M staff within Vision Australia. Marta is also a VisionAware Peer Advisor. Last week on the VisionAware blog, we examined the process of echolocation, or Using Your Ears


Out of the Whirlpool: The Story of a Suicide Survivor and the Rebuilding of a Life (Part 3)

In honor of Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT) Appreciation Week (June 23-29), VisionAware is featuring the work of talented VRTs throughout the United States. Sue Wiygul Martin has worked in the field of blind rehabilitation for over 20 years as a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT), a Low Vision Therapist (LVT), and an assistive technology specialist.


Out of the Whirlpool: The Story of a Suicide Survivor and the Rebuilding of a Life (Part 2)

In honor of Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT) Appreciation Week (June 23-29), VisionAware is featuring the work of talented VRTs throughout the United States. Sue Wiygul Martin has worked in the field of blind rehabilitation for over 20 years as a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT), a Low Vision Therapist (LVT), and an assistive technology specialist.


Out of the Whirlpool: The Story of a Suicide Survivor and the Rebuilding of a Life (Part 1)

In honor of Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT) Appreciation Week (June 23-29), VisionAware is featuring the work of talented VRTs throughout the United States. VisionAware Peer Advisor Sue Wiygul Martin has worked in the field of blind rehabilitation for over 20 years as a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT), a Low Vision Therapist


VisionExchange: A Support Group for Support Group Leaders by Guest Blogger Polly Abbott, CVRT

In honor of Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT) Appreciation Week (June 23-29), VisionAware is featuring the work of talented VRTs throughout the United States. Polly Abbott is a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT), an Orientation and Mobility Specialist with a background in education, and Director of Rehabilitation Services at Second Sense in Chicago,


Eylea May Help When Patients Do not Respond to Lucentis or Avastin for Macular Degeneration

A new study, published "online first" on May 23, 2013 in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, concludes that Eylea therapy appears to be beneficial in a specific group of patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) whose symptoms are not responsive to either Lucentis or Avastin injections. The


Echolocation: Using Your Ears to Help You "See"

You can view Rowan's video at YouTube. Rowan, an 18-month-old German Spitz dog, was born without eyes, a rare condition known as anophthalmia. His owner Samantha Orchard, a dog breeder in the United Kingdom, was "stunned" when she realized that Rowan was using echolocation to navigate his environment – by barking and then listening to the echoes created by his bark to determine his location in relation to his surroundings. You can read more about Rowan at the


A New Diabetes Training Course for Community Health Workers from the National Eye Institute

The National Eye Institute (NEI) has released the Diabetes and Healthy Eyes Toolkit, which includes a free interactive online training course for community health workers. The online course, which was developed by NEI's National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP), teaches participants how to lead an educational session for people who have diabetes. The course uses animations, interactive features, and quizzes to provide information about the anatomy of the eye, the effects of


A New Study Examines Vision Impairment, Balance Problems, and Falls

A new study, published "online first" on June 6, 2013 in JAMA Ophthalmology (formerly Archives of Ophthalmology), concludes that visually impaired individuals have a significantly greater risk of balance problems. The authors also offer suggestions to develop more effective fall prevention strategies for individuals with visual impairment or reduced visual acuity. JAMA Ophthalmology is an international peer-reviewed journal published monthly by the American Medical Association (AMA), and is part of the


The International Disability Film Festival Wants to Hear from Blind Film Lovers

The San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind and Visualy Impaired and the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University are the new co-hosts of Superfest, the world's longest-running disability film festival. This year's Superfest, to be held on October 12, 2013, at 3543 18th Street, San Francisco, California, will "…take a powerful look backward to explore the worst of the worst in the film representation of disability. We'll feature many telling examples of how far we've come, and we'll highlight the worst of the


The OrCam: A Portable, Wearable Visual System for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons

OrCam is an Israeli start-up company, founded in 2010 by Amnon Shashua, Sachs Professor of Computer Science at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The mission of OrCam is to develop a "portable, wearable visual system with 'human-like' capabilities" for blind and visually impaired persons, via the use of artificial computer intelligence and augmented reality. The OrCam (pictured at left) is based on computer algorithms that Professor Shashua has pioneered with Shai Shalev-Shwartz, a Hebrew University colleague, and


Two Pioneering African-American Educators to be Inducted into the Blindness Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field honors, at present, 50 individuals who were pioneers in the blindness field and shaped the field's history, philosophy, knowledge, and skills, while providing outstanding service to people who were blind and visually impaired. The Hall of Fame, which belongs to the entire field of blindness, is located within, and is curated by, the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) in Louisville, Kentucky. You can learn more about APH's long and storied history


A New "Meditative Gardening" Course from the Hadley School for the Blind

As our readers know, I have great admiration for the ongoing – and important – educational commitment of The Hadley School for the Blind. The mission of Hadley is to promote independent living through lifelong distance education programs for people who are blind or visually impaired, their families, and blindness service providers. A New Meditative Gardening Course from Hadley This week, I received information from Hadley about a new course offering that is timely, innovative, and dear to my heart: sensory gardening. Here is more information about the course, via a Hadley


A Dog Guide Diary by Gil Johnson and Harley at The Seeing Eye, Inc. (Part 4)

Gil Johnson is a talented woodworker and the author of Gil's Guide to Home Repairs on the VisionAware website. You can learn more about Gil's early life and professional accomplishments at Meet Gil Johnson. This month, Gil is at The Seeing Eye, Inc. in Morristown, New Jersey, training with his new guide dog (pictured left). In


On CBS News: Blind "Birding-by-Ear" with Donna Posant

My Twitter friend Fred Wurtzel, an avid blind birder from Michigan, alerted me to a new "blind birding" video on CBS News, entitled Birding by ear: The birdwatchers who see by listening, featuring expert birder Donna Posant. Donna is the field services director for Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind (OUB) and a widely recognized "birding-by-ear" teacher and naturalist. You can learn more about Donna and the birding-by-ear experience by watching and/or listening to the video (with closed-captioning) on the CBS News


A Dog Guide Diary by Gil Johnson and Harley at The Seeing Eye, Inc. (Part 3)

Gil Johnson is a talented woodworker and the author of Gil's Guide to Home Repairs and Parenting or Grandparenting with Vision Loss on the VisionAware website. You can learn more about Gil's early life and professional accomplishments at Meet Gil Johnson. This month, Gil is at The Seeing Eye, Inc. in Morristown, New Jersey, training with his new


My Excellent Experience as a Hadley School for the Blind "Ambassador"

On May 13 and 14, it was my privilege to attend the Hadley Ambassador Training Program at Hadley School for the Blind in Winnetka, Illinois. The mission of Hadley is to promote independent living through lifelong distance education programs for people who are blind or visually impaired, their families, and blindness service providers. About Hadley School for the Blind Mr. William A. Hadley (at left) was a college and high school educator and


Memorial Day 2013: British Blind Veterans Host Their American Blind Comrades in London

From May 19-26, 2013, six blind veterans of the United States Armed Forces, who have become role models for others living with vision loss, are visiting their counterparts in the United Kingdom, via an innovative exchange program for blind and visually impaired American and British veterans. The event is taking place under the auspices of Project Gemini, a joint exchange program initiated by Blind Veterans UK of London, England and the Blinded Veterans Association of Washington, DC. The project is named after "Gemini," a transatlantic communications cable that links the United Kingdom and the United States. About


There's Nothing More that Can be Done, You Say? Not True, We Say!

Filmmaker and advocate Joe Lovett is the producer/director of Going Blind: Coming out of the Dark about Vision Loss, a documentary film created to increase public awareness of blindness, vision loss, and the vision rehabilitation system. Going Blind is also Joe's personal story of his ongoing struggle with glaucoma and his sometimes-difficult journey through the "secret world," as he calls it, of vision


A Dog Guide Diary by Gil Johnson and Harley at The Seeing Eye, Inc. (Part 2)

Gil Johnson is a talented woodworker and the author of Gil's Guide to Home Repairs and Parenting or Grandparenting with Vision Loss on the VisionAware website. You can learn more about Gil's life and professional accomplishments in VisionAware's in-depth interview with Gil and at


A Dog Guide Diary by Gil Johnson and Harley at The Seeing Eye, Inc. (Part 1)

Gil Johnson is a talented woodworker and the author of Gil's Guide to Home Repairs and Parenting or Grandparenting with Vision Loss on the VisionAware website. You can learn more about Gil's life and professional accomplishments in VisionAware's in-depth interview with Gil and at


New Report: Dietary Supplements (AREDS Vitamins) and Their Effect on Macular Degeneration

A highly-anticipated study, published "online first" in the May 2013 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association has concluded that adding omega-3 fatty acids (such as those found in fish oil) had no effect on the formulation, while the addition of lutein and zeaxanthin together appeared to offer a safe and effective alternative to the beta-carotene that was contained in the original AREDS formulation) commonly recommended for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration


Guest Blogger John Miller: Blogging against "Disablism" with a Dual Disability

Guest blogger John Miller is a writer, sports enthusiast, former graduate student, and author of the blog A Blind Man's Journey, whom we first met – and profiled – in Meet John Miller on the VisionAware website. John's blog describes his long and not-yet-finished journey, beginning with his early childhood and diagnosis with Norrie disease, which causes blindness and progressive hearing impairment, to his current life as an employee of


Updates on the Progress of Clinical Trials for a Retinal Implant for Retinitis Pigmentosa

An updated study, entitled Artificial vision with wirelessly powered subretinal electronic implant has been published online in the February 2013 issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Proceedings B is the Royal Society's biological research journal, dedicated to the rapid publication of high-quality research papers. The paper summarizes the results of a nine-subject clinical trial of a functional retinal implant for patients with


They Look So Real! Wearing Ocular Lenses by Empish Thomas, Center for the Visually Impaired

Guest blogger Empish J. Thomas is the public educator for the Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI) in Atlanta, Georgia, where she organizes tours, exhibits, presentations and speaking engagements. She also posts on CVI's SightSeeing Blog and the CVI community bulletin board. In addition, she talks with potential clients, medical professionals, social service representatives, family members and others about the services that CVI can offer. In her spare time, Empish is a career columnist for


Low Vision Rehabilitation for Persons with Macular Degeneration and Mild Cognitive Deficits

A new study, published "online first" in the April 2013 issue of JAMA Ophthalmology (formerly Archives of Ophthalmology), demonstrates the feasibility and benefits of a low vision rehabilitation program for patients with macular disease who also have mild cognitive deficits. JAMA Ophthalmology is an international peer-reviewed journal published monthly by the American Medical Association (AMA), and is part of the


Reaching Out: How You Can Help App Developers Improve Accessibility

The following article is excerpted, with permission, from the April 2013 issue of AccessWorld®: Technology and People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, the monthly online magazine from American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). In Reaching Out: How You Can Help App Developers Improve Accessibility, author Bill Holton offers a number of suggestions for communicating more effectively with app developers, including a helpful list of Dos and Don'ts. At left is the logo for the


In Europe, a New Radiation Therapy for Wet Macular Degeneration Reduces Need for Lucentis Injections

Oraya Therapeutics, Inc. has released the results of its INTREPID clinical trial evaluating the safety and effectiveness of Oraya Therapy Stereotactic Radiotherapy for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The results indicate that a single dose of Oraya Therapy significantly reduces the need for Lucentis injections in persons with wet AMD, with


Meet Alice Lynch: Artist and Designer from Braille Design: Custom Braille Jewelry

It gives me immense pleasure to introduce you to the work of the talented artist and designer Alice Woodside Lynch, who hails from Jonesboro, Arkansas. Alice describes herself as "Navy veteran, cat lover, comics reader, textile artist, jewelry designer, braille enthusiast, and champion of the downtrodden." She is the proprietor of, and creative force behind, Braille Design: Custom Braille Jewelry and Gifts and Brailletshirts.com: Custom-Made Braille T-Shirts. Initially, I met "Alice the cat lover" via Twitter


Developments in Stem Cell Therapy for Macular Disease

Since November 2010, I have been following Advanced Cell Technology's (ACT) quest to implement successful clinical trials for macular eye disease, using human embryonic stem cells. ACT's U.S. and European Phase I/II clinical trials each involve a total of 12 patients, in groups of three (also called cohorts). The first group/cohort received a dosage of 50,000 cells, the second will receive 100,000 cells, the third will receive 150,000 cells and the final group/cohort will be dosed with 200,000 cells. The Most Recent Clinical Trial On April 15, 2013, ACT announced treatment of the first


Getting On with Life when the Rules Change by VisionAware Peer Advisor DeAnna Quietwater Noriega

Guest blogger DeAnna Quietwater Noriega (at left) is an Independent Living Specialist and facilitator of the Vision Impairment and Blindness Exploration and Support (VIBES) Group at Services for Independent Living (SIL) in Columbia, Missouri. She is half Apache, a quarter Swan Creek Chippewa, and has been blind since age eight. DeAnna is a poet, writer, legislative public policy advocate, and Peace Corps veteran. You can learn more about DeAnna's life and work at her VisionAware Peer Advisor


Disability Employment and a "Thumbs Up" for Roger Ebert

Guest blogger DeAnn Elliott graduated from the Independent Living program at The Carroll Center for the Blind in 2007 after losing her eyesight to retinitis pigmentosa. She lives in the Boston area with her teenage daughter, their cat, and her guide dog, Emmy, a playful black lab. In Disability Employment and a "Thumbs-Up" for Roger Ebert, which first


myVisionTrack: An At-Home App for Monitoring Eye Disease Receives FDA Clearance

myVisionTrack™ is a hand-held, prescription-only medical device, provided as an app for the iPhone 4S, that has received clearance by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on March 24, 2013 to be marketed as an at-home method for monitoring the progression of degenerative eye diseases, such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. The myVisionTrack™ medical device is produced by Vital Art and Science (VAS),


Targeting Cholesterol Buildup in the Eye May Help Slow Age-Related Macular Degeneration

A new study, published on April 2, 2013 as a "freely available featured article" in the journal Cell Metabolism, indicates that lowering the levels of cholesterol in the eye could possibly prevent the growth of blood vessels that cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The study was conducted with animal models (i.e., mice) and immune cells taken from human subjects with AMD. The researchers hope to conduct clinical trials with human subjects within the next five years.


Meet Award-Winning Visually Impaired Photographer Craig Royal

"If you have vision loss, don't lose sight of the beauty of life. If you have lost sight of the beauty of life, you are truly blind." ~ Craig Royal, fine art photographer Craig Royal is an award-winning visually impaired fine art photographer and photo artist. Here is more information, in Craig's own words, from the Craig Royal Fine Art Photography website: I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), where I concentrated in woodworking and furniture design. I received a professional fellowship from the Virginia Museum of Fine Art


Virtual Gaming Environment Helps Blind Persons Improve Navigation Skills and Cognitive Abilities

A new study in the March 2013 issue of the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE), explores the potential of a virtual gaming environment to help blind individuals improve their navigation skills and develop a cognitive spatial map of unfamiliar buildings and public locations. The Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) is the first (and still only) PubMed-indexed, peer-reviewed journal devoted to publishing scientific research in a video format. Using an international network of videographers, JoVE films


My Adventures in Wall Climbing by Empish Thomas, Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta

Guest blogger Empish J. Thomas is the public educator for the Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI) in Atlanta, Georgia, where she organizes tours, exhibits, presentations and speaking engagements. She also posts on CVI's SightSeeing Blog and the CVI community bulletin board. In addition, she talks with potential clients, medical professionals, social service representatives, family members and others about the services that CVI can offer. In her spare time, Empish is a career columnist for


Which Real-Life Factors Influence Adherence to Lucentis Treatment for Macular Degeneration?

A recent study, published in Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, has attempted to "identify factors and problems influencing treatment adherence in patients undergoing anti-VEGF therapy for neovascular age-related macular degeneration under real-life conditions." Graefe's Archive is an international journal that presents original clinical reports and experimental studies by ophthalmologists and vision research scientists in order to provide rapid


My Commitment to Professional Growth by Guest Blogger Laurel Leigh, COMS

Laurel Leigh is a certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) with the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Orientation and Mobility (O&M) is a profession specific to blindness and low vision that teaches safe, efficient, and effective travel skills to people of all ages. Laurel's article, entitled "Personal Reflections on AER Membership: A Commitment to Personal Growth," appears in the Winter 2013 edition


Meet Gil Johnson: Blind Woodworker and One of California's "50 Notable People"

Gil Johnson is an avid (and talented) woodworker and the author of Gil's Guide to Home Repairs and Parenting or Grandparenting with Vision Loss on the VisionAware website. Gil also hosts the Repairing Your Home message board, where you can ask him any question about home repair techniques and tips. Gil's professional life began as a Rehabilitation Counselor and


Three Blind Mice and the National Institutes of Health Present the Documentary Film "Going Blind"

I was pleased to learn that the March 2013 National Institutes of Health Clinical Center Newsletter features the documentary film Going Blind: Coming out of the Dark about Vision Loss and its producer/director Joe Lovett. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, is the nation's largest hospital devoted entirely to


My Journey into Ophthalmology by Guest Blogger Irv Arons

Guest blogger Irv Arons is the creator of – and driving force behind – Irv Arons' Journal, an online compendium of the latest information on ophthalmics, medical lasers, and new drugs and devices for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Until his retirement in 2005, Irv was a consultant to the ophthalmic industry for over 30 years, and to the medical laser industry for over 20 years. I have been following Irv's informative blog for several years, and have great respect for his depth and breadth of knowledge regarding developments in stem cell therapy, gene therapy, and emerging


My Amazing Amazon Adventure by VisionAware Peer Advisor Michelle Miller, LCSW

Guest blogger Michelle Miller, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist and professional grant writer who also serves as Director of Client Services for Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind in Washington, D.C. Michelle has advocated on behalf of clients with disabilities as an expert witness for legal matters and serves as a consultant to "vision awareness" events and documentaries. She is a board member with Guide Dogs for the Blind and the New Hope Development Corporation, a non-profit organization for underserved children and families she


A New Study Explores the Advantages of Morning versus Evening Glaucoma Medication

A new study, published in the Journal of Glaucoma, has attempted to determine "whether adherence is better with morning or evening administration of a once-daily glaucoma medication in the treatment of patients with glaucoma or ocular hypertension." The Journal of Glaucoma provides a forum for discussion of clinical, scientific, and socioeconomic issues of concern to clinicians who care for persons with


New Research on Driving Patterns in Older Adults with Glaucoma

A new study, entitled Driving patterns in older adults with glaucoma, has been published online on February 21, 2013, in BMC Ophthalmology. The study concludes that glaucoma and visual field loss from glaucoma are associated with a greater likelihood that older adults will limit driving, stop driving, or change their driving preferences. The authors are Suzanne W. van Landingham, Chad Hochberg, Robert W.


The American Foundation for the Blind Introduces Described TV Listings

From a March 8, 2013 press release from the American Foundation for the Blind: Finding described television shows just got much easier. As part of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, several of the most popular television networks have made certain prime-time and children's programs accessible to viewers with vision loss by adding video description. To help


Treating Hypertension May Increase the Risk of Vision Loss from Glaucoma

At the American Glaucoma Society 2013 Annual Meeting, lead investigator Carlos Gustavo De Moraes, MD, from New York University Langone Medical Center, presented results of a study indicating that persons with normal-tension glaucoma may have an increased risk for vision loss if they are also receiving aggressive hypertension (i.e., high blood pressure) treatment. According to Dr. De Moraes, 32% of the 85 study subjects had both systemic


The Genetics of Age-Related Macular Degeneration are Detailed in a New Study

A new study, published on March 3, 2013 as an "Advance Online Publication" by the journal Nature Genetics, has identified seven new regions of the human genome (i.e., the complete set of genes contained in the human body) that are associated with an increased risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Nature Genetics publishes current genetic research, with an emphasis on the genetic basis for common and complex diseases. About the Research


In Memoriam: Professor Whitestick

I have always been an avid follower of blind bloggers – and of arts bloggers who are blind, in particular. My favorite has always been Professor Whitestick, whom I featured in a VisionAware Blogroll Love post last year: Professor Whitestick's Blog Professor Whitestick is the voice (and considerable intellect) that informs the deeply felt cultural and artistic observations on Professor Whitestick's Blog. The Professor describes himself and his reasons for


A Contest for Blind (and Sighted) Photographers from OIC Books

OIC ("Oh, I see") Books, based in Carmel, California, is sponsoring Blind Sight, an online photography competition that is open to blind, visually impaired, and sighted photographers. The competition will close on March 15, 2013. OIC Books "seeks to redefine the book from a primarily visual experience accessed through print on a page to a hand-crafted, multi-sensory experience that builds a wider view of the world." OIC books are published as enhanced ebooks, standard ebooks, and in print. How the Contest Began: Inspiration from Blind


The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis ("Bionic Eye") Receives Humanitarian Use FDA Approval

On February 14, 2013, Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, also called the "artificial retina" or "bionic eye." The mission of Sylmar, California-based Second Sight is to "develop, manufacture, and market implantable visual prosthetics to enable blind individuals to achieve greater independence." The Argus II has been approved to treat adults with severe to profound


A New Production from Theater Breaking Through Barriers

Theater Breaking Through Barriers (TBTB) (formerly Theater by the Blind), is the only Off-Broadway theater, and one of the few theaters in the country, that is dedicated to advancing – and changing the image of – actors and writers with disabilities, including blindness, vision impairment, and low vision. TBTB began as Theater by the Blind, integrating actors and writers who were blind, had low vision, and were able-bodied. In 2008, TBTB expanded this mission to include artists with


Can High Levels of Inflammation Predict Future Risk for Macular Degeneration?

A new study, published "online first" in the February 2013 issue of JAMA Ophthalmology (formerly Archives of Ophthalmology), concludes that there is evidence that elevated levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein correlate with an increased future risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). C-reactive protein is a substance, produced by the liver, that increases when inflammation is present throughout the body. Increasingly, inflammation is thought to be a key risk factor for AMD. JAMA


AccessNote: A New Notetaker App from American Foundation for the Blind

On January 31, 2013, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) released the AccessNote™ app, a specialized notetaker for the iPhone®, iPad®, and iPod touch®. AccessNote™ was developed by AFB Tech, the technology division of AFB, in partnership with FloCo Apps, LLC. The price of AccessNote is $19.99, available as a download from the App Store. Some Background about Notetakers and AccessNote A


Monster.com to Provide Full Access to Blind and Visually Impaired Job Seekers

Monster.com will be the first job search and recruitment website in the industry to provide job seekers who are blind with full and equal access to all of its products and services including mobile applications. Monster.com provides a full array of job seeking, career management, recruitment, and talent management products and services in more than 40 countries. Monster.com and Accessibility Here is more information from the National Federation of the Blind announcement: "Over the


A New App Including Verbal Imaging Audio Tours at the Guggenheim Museum New York

The Verbal Imaging Tour App The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York has announced the launch of a new app, which includes its first-ever Verbal Imaging audio tour for visitors who are blind or have low vision. The app is free, T-coil compatible, and is available on site with museum admission or from iTunes. The new Verbal Imaging tour focuses on the Guggenheim's full-rotunda exhibition, Gutai: Splendid Playground, with 11 stops that guide visitors from the bottom to the top of the rotunda. It


"My Life in Korea" by VisionAware Peer Advisor Lenore Dillon

Guest blogger Lenore Dillon, CVRT, has over 30 years of experience in all aspects of Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT). Her experiences include both direct service provision (itinerant and center-based) and administration of VRT programs. She served as a faculty instructor at Northern Illinois University and was an associate professor from 2002-2005 at Korea Nazarene University in Chonan City, South Korea. You can learn more about Lenore's work as a VRT on her


A New Low Vision Resource from the National Eye Institute

The National Eye Institute (NEI) has released a 20-page, full-color, large print booklet with companion videos, in support of Low Vision Awareness Month, February 2013. The booklet and videos were developed by NEI's National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP). The mission of NEI, a part of the National Institutes of Health, is to "conduct and support research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of visual function, preservation of sight, and the special health


"On Becoming Illiterate" by New Zealand Author Lynley Hood

Guest blogger Lynley Hood, MSc LittD, lives in New Zealand. She is a scientist by training and a writer by occupation with a literary doctorate. Two of her four books have won New Zealand's premier book award. In 2009, Lynley developed visual impairment that compromises her ability to read. You can learn more about Lynley's background and work at her website and on her VisionAware Peer Advisor page. The following post is excerpted from


Advancing Laboratory Treatments into Human Studies by Dr. Stephen Rose, Foundation Fighting Blindness

Stephen Rose, Ph.D., is the Chief Research Officer of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, Inc.. The urgent mission of the Foundation is to drive the research that will provide preventions, treatments, and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome, and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases. Dr. Rose's essay, entitled "Found in Translation: Taking on the Challenge of Advancing Treatments into Human Studies," appears in the Winter 2013 edition of


Gene Therapy and Leber Congenital Amaurosis: Update from the National Eye Institute

The following update addressing the role of gene therapy in the treatment of Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), an inherited and progressive eye disease, is adapted, with permission, from a National Eye Institute news brief entitled New Findings Suggest Need for Combined Strategy in Treatment of Rare Form of Blindness. The mission of the National Eye Institute is to "conduct and support research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to blinding eye diseases,


Positive Phase III Clinical Trial Results for Totally Blind Persons with Sleep Disorders

On January 23, 2013, Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced positive Phase III clinical trial results from the recently completed Randomized-withdrawal study of the Efficacy and Safety of Tasimelteon (RESET) study; in addition, on December 18, 2012, Vanda announced positive Phase III clinical trial results from the Safety and Efficacy of Tasimelteon (SET) study. Tasimelteon is an experimental drug treatment for totally blind individuals with no light perception who experience a sleep problem called "Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder." In the United States, this disorder affects approximately 65,000 totally blind


The White House Announces Audio Descriptions for Public Tours

On January 24, 2013, the White House Visitors Office announced the availability of an audio described White House tour, in response to the ongoing accessibility concerns and needs of Americans who are blind, visually impaired, have low vision, or are otherwise print-disabled. Here is more information from the White House blog: The White House Announces Audio Descriptions for Public Tours President Obama and the First Lady have long been committed to ensuring that the White House is truly the


The FDA's Division of Drug Information Provides Phone and E-Mail Assistance

I discovered this helpful resource via a tip from the Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) Listserv. I hope you'll find this helpful too. From a January 23, 2013 FDA press release: From their offices in Silver Spring, Maryland, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pharmacists answer thousands of calls to 1-888-INFO-FDA each year. The FDA Division of Drug Information Twenty-five pharmacists and other experts who work in FDA's


A Promising New Method for Administering Glaucoma Medication

A promising (but not yet proven) treatment for glaucoma is the use of punctal plugs to deliver an accurate and consistent dosage of glaucoma medication. A major concern in glaucoma treatment is compliance with a medication regimen: ensuring that individuals use their eye drops every day and in the correct dosage. The consequences of poor compliance can lead to surgery, vision impairment, or even blindness. Small eye drop containers are not easy to


A Response to The New York Times: Macular Degeneration Does not Equal Despair and Devastation

On December 15, 2012, The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, which provides direct assistance to children, families, and older adults in New York, featured a profile of 78-year-old graphic artist Margie Jones, entitled A Disease Threatens a Woman's Eyesight and Art. Ms. Jones, who has had Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a hereditary collagen disorder, since 1976, learned that she had


The iCanConnect Campaign Supports Accessible Technology for Deaf-Blind, Low-Income Individuals

The new iCanConnect campaign will provide support for the local distribution of accessible communications technology for low-income individuals with combined hearing and vision loss. The following article is adapted, with permission, from the January 2013 issue of AccessWorld®: Technology and People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, the monthly online magazine from American Foundation for the Blind. AccessWorld presents objective information, informed commentary, and cutting-edge news and trends about information technology and visual


Remembering Le Dan Bach Viet: 1961-2011

I first published this tribute in January 2011, on the former VisionAware blog. The blog was on hiatus in early 2012, the first anniversary of Bach Viet's death; thus, I'm publishing it now (updated and revised), so that our new readers can learn about this inspired – and inspiring – blindness professional. A Sorrowful Message from Vietnam Two weeks ago, I received an email with a sorrowful message that had been forwarded from Dr. Minh Kauffman, Director of the Center for Educational Exchange with Vietnam: With great sadness, I must tell you that Le Dan Bach Viet


Scene from a Barbershop: Deaf-Blindness Considered

I was preparing to leave my favorite venerable Greenwich Village barbershop this past week (after my monthly "bob-maintenance" appointment), when a murmur rippled through the premises: "You have to see this guy! Don't leave yet – watch what he does." I looked up, and sure enough – a youngish blind man paused at the front door, getting his bearings and orienting himself, so it seemed. He carried a long white cane and I could see that he also wore two hearing aids. He was deaf-blind.


The Importance of Braille Literacy: An Open Letter to the New York Times from Daniel Aronoff

Guest blogger Daniel Aronoff is New York City's premier blind food critic. You can read about his culinary experiences at The Real Blind Taste Test© blog and @blindblog on Twitter. Daniel received the People's Choice Award in the Dining and Entertainment category of CBS New York's Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011. Following is Daniel's response to Listening to Braille: With New


Have Researchers Identified an Early Predictor for Glaucoma?

A new study, published in the January 2013 issue of Ophthalmology, concludes that blood vessel changes within the eye could be an early warning sign of an increased risk for glaucoma. Ophthalmology, the official journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, publishes original, peer-reviewed reports of research in ophthalmology, including treatment methods, the latest drug findings, and results of clinical trials. The Study Authors


My Journey Back to Braille by Empish Thomas, Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta

Guest blogger Empish J. Thomas is the public educator for the Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI) in Atlanta, where she organizes tours, exhibits, presentations and speaking engagements. She also posts on CVI's SightSeeing Blog and the CVI community bulletin board. In addition, she talks with potential clients, medical professionals, social service representatives, family members and others about the services that CVI can offer. In her spare time, she is a career columnist for


Why Braille Is So Important To Me by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega

Guest blogger DeAnna Quietwater Noriega (at left) is an Independent Living Specialist and facilitator of the Vision Impairment and Blindness Exploration and Support (VIBES) Group at Services for Independent Living (SIL) in Columbia, Missouri. She is half Apache, a quarter Swan Creek Chippewa, and has been blind since age eight. DeAnna is a poet, writer, legislative public policy advocate, and Peace Corps veteran. She has written the following tribute to honor Louis Braille (born January 4, 1809) during National Braille Literacy Month. My


A Nationwide Study Is Investigating Genetic and Other Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration

Researchers at the Jules Stein Eye Institute of the University of California at Los Angeles are continuing to recruit participants for a nationwide study investigating the heredity and exposure risk factors that lead to the development of age-related macular degeneration. The GARM II Study The goal of the Genetics of Age-Related Maculopathy (GARM II) Study is:


New Research Explores the Health Implications of Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion

A recent study from Denmark has broken new ground in understanding the underlying causes and health implications of branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO), a serious eye disorder and common cause of vision loss that affects 13.9 million persons (primarily older adults) worldwide. About Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion As defined by PubMed Health, a retinal vein occlusion is a blockage [i.e., "occlusion"] of the small veins that carry blood away from the


New (Positive) Clinical Trial Results for Totally Blind Persons with Sleep Disorders

On December 18, 2012, Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced positive Phase III clinical trial results from the recently completed Safety and Efficacy of Tasimelteon (SET) study. Tasimelton is an experimental drug treatment for totally blind individuals with no light perception who experience a sleep problem called "Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder." In the United States, this disorder affects approximately 65,000 totally blind individuals who lack the light sensitivity necessary to reset their internal "body clocks."


How Visible Are Steps and Stairs for People with Low Vision?

As many readers know, I am a vision rehabilitation therapist (VRT) and a low vision therapist (LVT) with a lifelong professional interest in assessing and modifying indoor and outdoor environments for people who are blind or have low vision. One of my particular interests is steps and stairs: How easy – or difficult – are they to see, decipher [i.e., step up or step down], and navigate safely? Thus, I have been


Fear of Falling, Eye Disease, and Limitations in Daily Activities: They're All Related

Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, the official journal of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), has published yet another thought-provoking study about the real-life ramifications of adult-onset vision loss. The Association for Research in Vision & Ophthalmology Activity Limitation Due To a Fear of Falling in Older Adults with Eye Disease was published in the December 3, 2012 online edition of


Hints for Trimming the Christmas Tree When You're Blind or Visually Impaired

Guest blogger Fred Wurtzel is an Elder at the First Christian Church in Lansing, Michigan and a former president of the Michigan Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). Fred's Twitter profile describes him as "High school class of '69. I love Michigan. Enjoy writing, Church Elder, NFB, outdoors, reading, and social change." Trimming the Christmas Tree: How We Began My wife Mary and I have been married for 36 years and have collected lots of ornaments over the years. Our first tree was just two feet tall, sat on a table, had one


Glaucoma, Reading Speed, and Possible E-Reading Applications

A recent study has examined the relationship between reading speed and bilateral [i.e., both eyes] visual field loss from glaucoma and relates the findings to potential applications in e-reading technology, such as the iPad or Kindle. The Association for Research in Vision & Ophthalmology Difficulty with Out-loud and Silent Reading in Glaucoma has been published online ahead-of-print in Investigative Ophthalmology


New Research on Glaucoma, Impaired Eye Movements, and Daily Living Activities

A new study, published in the November 27, 2012 issue of the online journal Eye and Brain, concludes that saccadic eye movements are significantly delayed in individuals with early, moderate, or advanced glaucoma. Eye and Brain is an international, peer-reviewed, open access journal focusing on clinical and experimental research in the field of neuro-ophthalmology. About Saccades and Eye Movements Saccades (pronounced suh-KAHDZ) are


Losing Patience with Being a Patient by Stephanie Stephens Van

Guest blogger Stephanie Stephens Van has lectured nationally on adapted crafts and leisure activities; adjustment to blindness and low vision; functional vision skills; and activities of daily living. Stephanie is a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist, a Low Vision Therapist, and an adjunct instructor at the Salus University College of Education and Rehabilitation.


Why I Don't Use the iPhone by Empish Thomas, Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta

Guest blogger Empish J. Thomas is the public educator for the Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI) in Atlanta, where she organizes tours, exhibits, presentations and speaking engagements. She also posts on CVI's SightSeeing Blog and the CVI community bulletin board. In addition, she talks with potential clients, medical professionals, social service representatives, family members and others about the services that CVI can offer. In her spare time, she is a career columnist for


The Latest Developments in Stem Cell Therapy for Macular Disease

Since November 2010, I have been following Advanced Cell Technology's (ACT) quest to implement successful clinical trials for macular eye disease, using human embryonic stem cells. ACT's U.S. and European Phase I/II clinical trials each involve a total of 12 patients, in groups of three (also called cohorts). The first group/cohort received a dosage of 50,000 cells, the second will receive 100,000 cells, the third will receive 150,000 cells and the final group/cohort will be dosed with 200,000 cells. ACT also has announced that Scotland's NHS Lothian


New Developments in Glaucoma Treatment: Micro-Stents

Year One results from the HYDRUS I clinical trial of the Hydrus Microstent, which has the potential for long-term reduction of intraocular [i.e., within the eye] pressure in patients with open-angle glaucoma, were presented at the 2012 American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting, held from November 10-13 in Chicago, Illinois. Ivantis, Inc., an Irvine, California-based company


Digital Tablets Can Improve Speed and Ease of Reading for People with Moderate Vision Loss

An innovative new study exploring the potential of the iPad and other back-lighted digital tablet devices to increase the reading ability and reading speed of persons with low vision was presented at the 2012 American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting, held from November 10-13 in Chicago, Illinois. The study, conducted at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey and led by associate clinical professor Daniel Roth, M.D., concluded that subjects with


A Follow-Up Interview with Master Sgt. and Blind Army Veteran Jeffrey Mittman: Part 2

Meet Master Sgt. and Army Veteran Jeffrey Mittman United States Army veteran Master Sgt. Jeffrey Mittman was wounded by a roadside bomb on July 7, 2005 in Baghdad, Iraq. In that attack, his left eye was destroyed, his right arm was badly damaged, and he lost his nose, his lips, and most of his teeth. "My left eye was destroyed, my right eye had permanent scarring, and I had just a little peripheral vision remaining. My first concern was how I was going to recover and take care of my family," he said, since he could no longer lead soldiers in combat.


A Follow-Up Interview with Master Sgt. and Blind Army Veteran Jeffrey Mittman: Part 1

Meet Master Sgt. and Army Veteran Jeffrey Mittman United States Army veteran Master Sgt. Jeffrey Mittman was wounded by a roadside bomb on July 7, 2005 in Baghdad, Iraq. In that attack, his left eye was destroyed, his right arm was badly damaged, and he lost his nose, his lips, and most of his teeth. "My left eye was destroyed, my right eye had permanent scarring, and I had just a little peripheral vision remaining. My first concern was how I was going to recover and take care of my family," he said, since he could no longer lead soldiers in combat.


The Blinded Veterans Initiative at the Hadley School for the Blind

The goal of the Blinded Veterans Initiative at The Hadley School for the Blind is to educate and inspire blind or visually impaired veterans to pursue their personal and professional goals and help support their families. This innovative veteran outreach program is tuition-free for all blind and visually impaired veterans and their family members. About the Hadley Blinded Veterans Initiative Veterans can enroll in any of 100+ Hadley distance education courses. Core subjects emphasized through this new initiative include business and


An Internet Community for Blind Veterans at the Serotek Corporation

The Serotek Corporation is dedicated to "accessibility anywhere" for blind and visually impaired people around the globe. Serotek is led by a staff of "blind visionaries" who are dedicated to expanding an accessible digital lifestyle through innovative, affordable, and easy-to-use products that are based upon universal design principles. About Serotek's SAMNet SAMNet (System Access Mobile Network) is Serotek's Internet community that provides access to email, news, described video service, digital talking book players, blogs, personal web sites, and many other


A Phase 2 Clinical Trial for a New Glaucoma Treatment

Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced positive results for a Phase 2a clinical trial of experimental/investigational drug AR-13324 as a potential eye drop treatment for primary open-angle glaucoma. About Aerie Pharmaceuticals Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Inc., located in Bedminster, New Jersey and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, is a privately held biotechnology


Voting and Self-Advocacy: They're Intertwined by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega

Guest blogger DeAnna Quietwater Noriega (at left) is an Independent Living Specialist and facilitator of the Vision Impairment and Blindness Exploration and Support (VIBES) Group at Services for Independent Living (SIL) in Columbia, Missouri. She is half Apache, a quarter Swan Creek Chippewa, and has been blind since age eight. DeAnna is a poet, writer, legislative public policy advocate and Peace Corps veteran. Becoming a Self-Advocate I grew up in a culture that taught children they should be seen and not heard. Add disability and you have a good formula for a passive person.


Emergency Preparedness with Blindness and Visual Impairment: A First-Person Account

Guest blogger Lisa Salinger (at left) works for Serotek in the Sales and Customer Service departments. She is a regular contributor on the SeroTalk Podcast Network and provides training in the use of Serotek's screen reader and related products. Prior to this, she worked as a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist/Rehabilitation Teacher for the state of Pennsylvania. You can visit her website, Lisa's Creative Solutions, and


Second Sense Blog "Jalapeños in the Oatmeal" Tackles Emotional Issues with Candor and Charm

It's time for some VisionAware blogroll love once again. As I explained in my introductory "blogroll love" post, ...the VisionAware "blind bloggers" collective is a marvelous way to position my favorite bloggers front-and-center for our ever-growing audience. You'll discover great writing there – and not only about blindness. My favorite bloggers are people who happen to be blind – and who have much to say about life's joys, sorrows, and everything else that makes us human. This week, I'd like you to meet the talented writer and blogger from Jalapeños in the Oatmeal. Jalapeños in the Oatmeal:


A "New Perkins" Expands Its Mission and Commitment to Braille Literacy and Employment

Because I have long admired the work of Perkins School for the Blind, I was pleased to read the following press release from Perkins President Steven M. Rothstein: On October 15, 2012, Perkins School for the Blind announced that it is streamlining its name to simply "Perkins." The name change comes after a year-long exploration within the Perkins community. The name "Perkins" supports the


Meet Scott Anderson and the New England Blind and Visually Impaired Alpine Ski Festival

Scott Anderson is a friend of VisionAware, an avid (and skilled) blind skier, and is deeply involved in planning the second New England Blind and Visually Impaired Alpine Ski Festival, to be held February 10-14, 2013 at Sugarloaf Mountain Resort in Carrabassett Valley, Maine. Scott (at left in photo with guide Fran Mullin) is a legally blind alpine, or downhill, skier who is active with Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation, a non-profit organization and sponsor of the annual Festival. How It All Began Here's more from Scott


Flying High on the Internet: One Story of Accessibility Well-Implemented

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, (at left) is a Senior Instructor in the Adaptive Technology Department and Communications Learning Center at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) in Sands Point, New York. This week, Scott reviews Gogo Inflight Internet. Scott's prior reviews include Apple's recent iOS 6 release and RoboBraille:


Dining in the Dark: Does Its Mission Succeed? Part 2

Dans le Noir? (translation: "In the Dark?") is a "dining in the dark" social franchise network that began in Paris, France in 2004. The stated mission of Dans le Noir? is to encourage and foster empathy with – and a greater understanding of – people who are blind and visually impaired. It is managed by the Ethik Investment Group, a French consulting and event-marketing corporation, which has added Dans le Noir? restaurant franchises in Paris, London, Barcelona, Saint Petersburg, and – most recently – New


Dining in the Dark: Does Its Mission Succeed? Part 1

Dans le Noir? (translation: "In the Dark?") is a "dining in the dark" social franchise network that began in Paris, France in 2004. The stated mission of Dans le Noir? is to encourage and foster empathy with – and a greater understanding of – people who are blind and visually impaired. It is managed by the Ethik Investment Group, a French consulting and event-marketing corporation. The Dans le Noir? social experiment evolved from a series of "le goût du noir" or "taste of darkness" dinners that


Adventures In Sighted/Blind Air Travel

In a few days, I'll be departing for Poland to work with the VEGA Foundation and teach/lecture at The Maria Grzegorzewska Academy of Special Education in Warsaw. I've been traveling there since 1995, and have made many close friends throughout the years. Whenever I visit Poland, I always bring along a rigid (meaning non-folding and non-collapsible) carbon fiber cane from the National Federation of the Blind for my good friend


Phase II Clinical Trial to Begin: Squalamine Eye Drops for Wet Macular Degeneration

Ohr Pharmaceutical, Inc. has announced that it is commencing Phase II clinical trials to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of its Squalamine Eye Drops as a potential treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The Phase II study will enroll 120 participants at 21 clinical ophthalmology centers


Cataracts and Alzheimer's Disease: Are They Related?

Recently, I learned about a fascinating study in which researchers have proposed a possible (but not proven) genetic link between Alzheimer's disease and age-related cataracts. The Public Library of Science (PLoS) The study, entitled Delta-Catenin Is Genetically and Biologically Associated with Cortical Cataract and Future Alzheimer-Related Structural and Functional Brain Changes (I will explain/decode!), was published in the September 11, 2012 issue of


Two for Blindness and Neuroscience

I first published these "advances in neuroscience" stories last year, but believe they remain equally relevant today. I think you'll agree. Why Can Some Blind People Process Speech Faster Than Sighted Persons? In a recent issue of Scientific American, an article by R. Douglas Fields, Ph.D., entitled Why Can Some Blind People Process Speech Far Faster Than Sighted Persons? examines the work of a group of researchers from the Hertie Institute for


What's New in Accessibility with Apple's iOS 6: Part 2

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, (at left) is a Senior Instructor in the Adaptive Technology Department and Communications Learning Center at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) in Sands Point, New York. This week, Scott reviews the new iOS 6 release from Apple. iOS is Apple's mobile operating system, or OS. Originally developed for the iPhone, it has since been extended to support other Apple devices, such as the iPod touch and iPad. In June 2010, Apple rebranded the iPhone OS as simply


What's New in Accessibility with Apple's iOS 6: Part 1

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, (at left) is a Senior Instructor in the Adaptive Technology Department and Communications Learning Center at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) in Sands Point, New York. This week, Scott reviews the new iOS 6 release from Apple. iOS is Apple's mobile operating system, or OS. Originally developed for the iPhone, it has since been extended to support other Apple devices, such as the iPod touch and iPad. In June 2010, Apple rebranded the iPhone OS as simply


Can a Guide Dog "Know" Its Owner Is Blind?

Last week, while perusing my usual (i.e., prodigious) range of blindness- and vision-related news, blogs, and links, I discovered a fascinating post on the Psychology Today blog, entitled Professor, Does My Dog Know I'm Blind: Can we know what animals know about what we know? Dr. Herzog and the Human-Animal Dynamic It was authored by Hal Herzog, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Western Carolina University, whose academic research explores the psychology


The Part of the Brain that Processes Visual Text May Not Require Vision After All

I first published this story last year, but believe it's equally relevant today. I think you'll agree. Congenital Blindness, the Visual Cortex, and Language Processing Two intriguing research reports are shedding new light on the way the brain's visual processing center functions in people who are blind. The first report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, entitled Language processing in the occipital cortex of


A Review of the Humanware Communicator App by Scott Davert, Helen Keller National Center: Part 2

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, (at left) is a Senior Instructor in the Adaptive Technology Department and Communications Learning Center at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) in Sands Point, New York. Previously, Scott reviewed RoboBraille: Enhancing Document Accessibility, and vision enhancements and hearing and


A Review of the Humanware Communicator App by Scott Davert, Helen Keller National Center: Part 1

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, (at left) is a Senior Instructor in the Adaptive Technology Department and Communications Learning Center at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) in Sands Point, New York. Previously, Scott reviewed RoboBraille: Enhancing Document Accessibility, and vision enhancements and hearing and


Charles Bonnet Syndrome: My Personal and Professional Journey

This past week, I found myself involved in an interesting Twitter discussion about Charles Bonnet ("Bo-NAY") Syndrome (CBS), a condition that causes vivid, complex, recurrent visual hallucinations, usually (but not solely) in older adults with later-life vision loss. The "visual hallucinations" associated with CBS can range from animated, colorful, dreamlike images to less complicated visions of people, animals, vehicles, houses, and


A Potential New Drug for Macular Degeneration, Now in Clinical Trials

Allergan, Inc. has entered Phase IIb clinical trials for experimental drug AGN-150998 as a potential treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), specifically as an injectable medication designed to inhibit abnormal retinal blood vessel growth (i.e., an anti-VEGF treatment, explained below). Allergan, Inc. is a multi-specialty health care company focused on discovering, developing, and commercializing innovative pharmaceuticals, biologics, and medical


Updates On a Clinical Trial for Totally Blind Individuals with Sleep Disorders

Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biotechnology company in Rockville, MD, is continuing to recruit study participants for a Phase III clinical trial of an experimental drug treatment for totally blind individuals with no light perception who experience a sleep problem called "Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder." In the United States, this disorder affects approximately 65,000 totally blind individuals who lack the light sensitivity necessary to reset their internal "body clocks." About the Study


More Follow-Up To the Coping with Vision Loss Study

As always, it's highly informative to follow up with VisionAware author Kaye Olson, the coordinator of the Coping with Vision Loss Study, which investigated the wide range of coping strategies used by adults and older adults who are blind, visually impaired, or have low vision. Following Up: The Field Responds Several weeks ago, I blogged about the follow-up


Documentary Film "Going Blind" To Have September Capitol Hill Screening for US Legislators

Meet filmmaker Joe Lovett, friend of VisionAware and producer/director of Going Blind: Coming out of the Dark about Vision Loss, a stunning and moving documentary film created to increase public awareness of blindness, vision loss, and the vision rehabilitation system. Going Blind is also Joe's personal story of his ongoing struggle with glaucoma and his sometimes-difficult journey through the "secret world," as he


The FDA Approves Lucentis for Diabetic Macular Edema

Here is excellent news for individuals who have diabetes and associated diabetic macular edema: On August 10, 2012, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Genetech's Lucentis (generic name ranibizumab) for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME). In its approval announcement, the FDA noted that Lucentis is for use in persons with "good diabetic sugar control" and is designed to be given once a month as an injection into the eye by a qualified health care professional. About Diabetic Macular Edema


A "Top Eight" List of My Favorite Blog Posts by Joe Strechay: Part 2

Guest blogger Joe Strechay is the CareerConnect Program Manager at American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). Here's Joe's description of his AFB working life: "I spend most of my time writing about employment, career education, job seeking, and


A "Top Eight" List of My Favorite Blog Posts by Joe Strechay

Guest blogger Joe Strechay is the CareerConnect Program Manager at American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). Here's Joe's description of his AFB working life: "I spend most of my time writing about employment, career education, job seeking, and


An Ophthalmologist "Nails It" Regarding Physician-Patient Communication

I first published this story on March 17, 2011, but believe it's equally relevant today. I think you'll agree. Meet Doctor Friedman David S. Friedman, MD, MPH, PhD, is a prominent and powerful advocate for enhanced physician-patient communication. Doctor Friedman is an ophthalmologist whose primary practice is located at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. He discussed the current state of physician-patient communication during his recent presentation at the Richard A. Ellis Lecture at the Wills Eye Institute


Finding and Hiring a Driver If You're Blind or Visually Impaired by Stephanie Stephens Van

Guest blogger Stephanie Stephens Van has lectured nationally on adapted crafts and leisure activities; adjustment to blindness and low vision; functional vision skills; and activities of daily living. Stephanie is a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist, a Low Vision Therapist, and an adjunct instructor at the Salus University College of Education and


New Research on Hip Fractures and Cataract Surgery

A new study, published in the August 1, 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicates that the risk of hip fractures was significantly reduced in patients aged 65 and older who had undergone cataract surgery, compared with those patients who did not undergo cataract surgery. The Study Authors The study, entitled Risk of Fractures


RoboBraille: Enhancing Document Accessibility by Scott Davert, HKNC for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A., VRT, (at left) is a Senior Instructor in the Adaptive Technology Department and Communications Learning Center at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) in Sands Point, New York. Previously, Scott reviewed vision enhancements and hearing and physical/motor enhancements for Apple's iOS 5 release. This week, Scott reviews RoboBraille, a


BlogHer '12: A Whole New Way of Thinking

Last week, I had an excellent (and educational) immersion in all things social media-related at BlogHer '12, BlogHer's 8th Annual Conference, held this year in New York City, from August 2-4. (Bonus: Whenever anyone asked where I was from, I was able to point downtown while saying, "About twenty blocks from here.") About BlogHer for the Uninitiated So what is BlogHer? Here's an explanation from the BlogHer website (i.e., The Mothership):


Using Microneedles To Deliver Drugs to the Retina: Helpful for Macular Degeneration?

Using a Microneedle for Drug Delivery to the Posterior Segment of the Eye was published in the July 2012 issue of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, the official journal of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). ARVO is an international organization that encourages and assists research, training, publication, and dissemination of knowledge in vision and ophthalmology, including low


Tracking the Latest Developments in Stem Cell Therapy for Macular Disease

Since November 2010, I have been following Advanced Cell Technology's (ACT) quest to implement successful clinical trials for macular eye disease, using human embryonic stem cells. Here is an update of ACT's progress to date: Moorfields Eye Hospital On July 27, 2012, ACT announced the treatment of the third patient in its European Phase I/II clinical trials for Stargardt's disease, using retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells derived from human embryonic stem cells. The most recent surgery was performed at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London,


A New Experimental Chemical Helps Blind Mice See

A new study, published in the July 26, 2012 issue of the journal Neuron, indicates that an injection of the chemical AAQ into the eyes of blind mice can restore light perception temporarily. It also suggests a potential new therapy for persons with blinding retinal diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. In both of these currently incurable degenerative eye diseases,


More VisionAware Blogroll Love!

It's time for some VisionAware blogroll love once again. As I explained in my introductory "blogroll love" post, … the VisionAware "blind bloggers" collective has migrated from the former VisionAware.org website to the sidebar of the new VisionAware blog. It's a marvelous way to position my favorite bloggers front-and-center for our ever-growing audience. You'll discover great writing there – and not only about blindness. My favorite bloggers are people who happen to be blind – and who have much to say about life's joys,


Avastin and Lucentis for Macular Degeneration: Head-to-Head Once Again

Year Two results from the Comparison of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Treatments Trials (CATT) that evaluated the effectiveness of Avastin (bevacizumab) versus Lucentis (ranibizumab) in a head-to-head clinical trial are now available. CATT is a multi-center, prospective clinical trial, funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI), a component agency


The New Technologically Advanced Perkins/APH SMART Brailler®

As a longtime proponent of braille literacy, I was pleased to read this joint announcement from Perkins Products and American Printing House for the Blind: The New Perkins SMART Brailler® Perkins Products, a division of Perkins School for


Following Up: The Coping with Vision Loss Study

It's always interesting – and informative – to have the opportunity to follow up with the subjects of a story we've published on the VisionAware website. Recently, I had such an opportunity with the authors of the Coping with Vision Loss Study, which investigated the wide range of coping strategies used by adults and older adults who are blind, visually impaired, or have low vision. About the Authors Kaye Olson (pictured left), coordinator of the Coping with Vision Loss Study, has


Avastin and Lucentis: Cardiovascular Risks? A New Canadian Study Says No

Last week, I read yet another intriguing research study regarding the age-related macular degeneration (AMD) drugs Lucentis and Avastin. The newly-released Canadian study investigated the risk of cardiovascular events [i.e., heart attack, congestive heart failure, blood clotting, and stroke] in patients who were receiving either Avastin or Lucentis injections for retinal disease. I've blogged about research results involving both drug treatments on a number of occasions, including


The FDA Approves a New Stent Device for Glaucoma Surgery with Cataracts

On June 25, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had approved the iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent System. This is the first stent device approved for use in combination with cataract surgery to reduce intraocular [i.e., within the eye] pressure in adult patients with mild or moderate open-angle glaucoma and a


Are You a Legally Blind College/Graduate Student? We Need You!

As our readers know, I greatly admire the ongoing – and important – work of the Mississippi State University (MSU) National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC). The mission of the NRTC is to enhance employment and independent living outcomes for individuals who are blind or visually impaired through research, training, education, and dissemination. During the past year, I've blogged about a number of significant and innovative NRTC projects, including the


Another Potential "Eye Drop" Treatment for (Dry) Macular Degeneration

MacuCLEAR, Inc. has announced that it is commencing Phase III clinical trials for MC-1101, its topical [i.e., eye drop] drug for the treatment of early-stage dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), based on positive feedback during the company's end-of-Phase II meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Recently, I also reported on another eye drop treatment in


More VisionAware Blogroll Love!

It's time for some VisionAware blogroll love once again. As I explained in my introductory "blogroll love" post, … the VisionAware "blind bloggers" collective has migrated from the former VisionAware.org website to the sidebar of the new VisionAware blog. It's a marvelous way to position my favorite bloggers front-and-center for our ever-growing audience. You'll discover great writing there – and not only about blindness. My favorite


Are Memory Problems Linked to Eye Disease and Diabetes?

Two recent studies suggest that memory loss and cognitive decline may be linked to (a) diabetes, (b) poor control of blood sugar levels by persons with diabetes, and/or (c) damage to retinal blood vessels, called retinopathy. What is Retinopathy? Retinopathy is a general term that describes damage to the retina, which is the thin, light-sensitive tissue that lines the inside surface of the eye. Nerve cells in the retina convert


A New Stem Cell Clinical Trial for Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Last week, StemCells, Inc. announced the initiation of a Phase I/II clinical trial of its human neural stem cell product for the treatment of dry macular degeneration, to be conducted at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest's (RFSW) Anderson Vision Research Center in Dallas, Texas. A summary of StemCell Inc.'s


Some VisionAware Blogroll Love!

As my always-astute readers surely have noticed, the VisionAware "blind bloggers" collective has migrated from the former VisionAware.org website to the sidebar of the new VisionAware blog. It's a marvelous way to position my favorite bloggers front-and-center for our ever-growing audience. You'll discover great writing there – and it's not only about blindness, so please abandon that notion, dear readers. My favorite bloggers are people who happen to be blind – and who have much to say about life's joys, sorrows, and everything


The Joslin Diabetes Center's Incredible "50-Year Medalists"

Researchers at the The Joslin Diabetes Center and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) have completed a study of 158 people who have lived with documented type 1 diabetes for 50 years or more, and who comprise a portion of the Joslin 50-Year Medalists cohort. The researchers concluded that a significant percentage of this unique group of patients


A Potential "Eye Drop" Treatment for (Wet) Macular Degeneration

Ohr Pharmaceutical, Inc., a company that is dedicated to the clinical development of new drugs for underserved therapeutic needs, has been awarded Fast Track designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Squalamine Eye Drops as a potential treatment for wet


On Meeting a Sighted Person

I'm guessing that most of us – both within and outside the blindness field – have encountered some version of the classic What to do when you meet a blind person or When you meet a person who is blind. These widely available instructional guides offer tips and techniques to help sighted people interact more effectively with – and avoid offending – people who are blind. Most include


Could One Cause of Macular Degeneration Be a Viral Infection?

Recently, I read a fascinating study in which the researchers have proposed a possible new approach (one of many) to the treatment of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. The study, entitled Macrophage Activation Associated with Chronic Murine Cytomegalovirus Infection Results in More Severe Experimental Choroidal Neovascularization (I will explain/decode!),


A New Website from the National Institutes of Health: Clinical Research Trials and You

From a press release from the National Institutes of Health (NIH): The National Institutes of Health has created a new website, NIH Clinical Research Trials and You, to help people learn more about clinical trials, why they matter, and how to participate. From the first cure of a solid tumor with chemotherapy to the use of nitroglycerin in response to heart attacks, clinical research trials – or research studies involving people – have played a vital role in improving health and quality of life for people around the


Hello and Welcome to the New VisionAware Blog

Hello to my old and new readers! This is Maureen Duffy, social media specialist for VisionAware and author of the new VisionAware blog. Here's a press release from American Foundation for the Blind that explains this innovative collaboration: … the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight


Ford Motor Company and University of Cambridge are Helping Drivers with Age-Related Vision Changes

The Ford Motor Company is teaming with the University of Cambridge Engineering Design Center to create automobile controls and displays that are responsive to the needs of the growing numbers of adults with age-related vision changes. What are age-related vision changes? Just as the body changes with age, our eyes undergo changes too. Many of these vision and eye changes are normal and are not caused by disease or illness. They can, however, make it difficult to


New Research About Drivers and Blind and Visually Impaired Pedestrians

The Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) is the premier international, interdisciplinary journal of record on blindness and visual impairment. JVIB publishes scholarship and information and serves as a forum for exchanging ideas, airing controversies, and discussing critical professional issues. (Note: As a long-time JVIB subscriber, my personal library contains almost every print issue dating from 1981. That's 30 years of superb reference material! And yes, I am a research


Updates on the Progress of Clinical Trials for a Retinal Implant for Retinitis Pigmentosa

How It Began On November 3, 2010, a report entitled Subretinal electronic chips allow blind patients to read letters and combine them to words was published online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Proceedings B is the Royal Society's biological research journal, dedicated to the rapid publication of high-quality research papers. The paper summarized a 15-year research project to develop and test a functional retinal implant for patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The project was headed by Eberhart


Around the Interwebs with VisionAware

I have several excellent (and thought-provoking) items to share with our readers this week. The Blindo Diaries The Blindo Diaries has been on a creative streak this week, for sure! In a collaborative post entitled How Do You See?, Becca and


A Vision Rehabilitation Program from Lighthouse International for Clergy and Religious

Thanks to the expert assistance of Susan Olivo, Executive Director of the Reader's Digest Partners for Sight Foundation, I discovered this interesting, albeit highly specific, vision rehabilitation resource last week. Lighthouse International sponsors an innovative program to inform clergy and religious about the potential benefits of


To the Moon with "Hear and There"

Hear and There Audio Magazine is a radio program and podcast hosted and produced by Dave Uhlman, a visually impaired accessibility consultant. Dave describes Hear and There as an adventure program that provides detailed audio descriptions of museums, nature walks, art shows, news events, and all manner of life–involving and –enhancing events. Dave "puts words to the visual" that enable his listeners (blind, sighted, and visually impaired) to


Can Increased Physical Activity Reduce the Risk of Glaucoma?

Recently, I was very interested to read a study that examined the relationship between physical activity and a particular and consistent risk factor for glaucoma that is drawing increased attention from many glaucoma researchers. Physical Activity and Ocular Perfusion Pressure: The EPIC-Norfolk Eye Study was published in the October 2011 issue of Investigative


FDA Approves EYLEA™ for the Treatment of Wet Macular Degeneration

Anatomy of the EYLEA™ Drug Approval Process In February 2011, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced that the company had submitted a Biologics License Application (BLA) to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Regeneron's VEGF Trap-Eye (now called EYLEA™), a potential injectable drug treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The FDA next announced


The Traveleyes Blind/Sighted Travel Experience

As many VisionAware readers know, travel is one of my great passions. Thus, I was very interested to learn more when I was contacted by Traveleyes, a United Kingdom-based tour operator specializing in providing holidays for groups of blind/visually impaired and sighted travelers, journeying together "in a spirit of mutual independence." The mission of Traveleyes is to enable blind and visually impaired men and women to


Mississippi State NRTC Launches Online Participant Registry for Blindness and Low Vision Research

As our readers know, I admire the work of the Mississippi State University (MSU) National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC). The mission of the NRTC is to enhance employment and independent living outcomes for individuals who are blind or visually impaired through research, training, education, and dissemination. The National Participant Registry The NRTC has launched an


Aspirin Use May (or May not) Be Associated with Increased Risk of AMD

During the past month, I've been bombarded with newsfeeds proclaiming, "Aspirin Is Proven to Cause Macular Degeneration!" or some variation thereof. However, as I investigated, I discovered that these headlines tended to overstate the certainty of the study's findings and create a sense of alarm regarding aspirin and macular degeneration. So let's take a factual look at the study, along with an interpretation of the study's findings. The study in question, entitled


A New Method for Measuring Visual Acuity in People with Extremely Low Vision

Throughout my career as a vision rehabilitation and low vision therapist, I have often grappled with medical files that provide minimal information about a client's/patient's visual acuties. It's common to read "counts fingers," "senses hand motion," or, worst of all, "unable to test." Not terribly helpful, I admit, but it was the best many eye doctors could do with the tools at their disposal for patients with very low vision. Thus, I was


The Chronic Care for Age-Related Macular Degeneration Study and Quality of Life

As our readers know, I always like to look outside the United States for professional inspiration. This week, I read about a most interesting study/trial that is being conducted in Switzerland. The Chronic Care for Age-Related Macular Degeneration Study (CHARMED) is an ongoing clinical trial that employs the Chronic Care Model as its primary


A New Clinical Trial for Patients Who Do not Respond to Lucentis or Avastin for Macular Degeneration

This week, I learned about a new clinical trial for a drug that shows promise in the treatment of wet macular degeneration (AMD) in patients who have not responded to treatment with either Avastin or Lucentis, the two drug interventions most commonly used at present. The drug is called iSONEP™ and it has been created by Lpath, a San Diego, California-based pharmaceutical


A New Study Examines Barriers to Low Vision Rehabilitation

As a longtime vision rehabilitation and low vision therapist, I was very interested to read yet another excellent and helpful study about the usage of vision rehabilitation services. Barriers to Low Vision


Part 2: What's new in iOS 5 for the iPhone by Scott Davert, HKNC for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A. (at left), is a Senior Instructor in the Communications Learning Center and Adaptive Technology Departments at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults in Sands Point, New York. This week, Scott reviews today's new iOS 5 release from Apple. iOS is Apple's mobile operating system, or OS. Originally developed for the iPhone, it has since been extended to support other Apple devices, such as the iPod touch and


Part 1: What's new in iOS 5 for the iPhone by Scott Davert, HKNC for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults

Guest blogger Scott Davert, M.A. (at left), is a Senior Instructor in the Communications Learning Center and Adaptive Technology Departments at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults in Sands Point, New York. This week, Scott reviews today's new iOS 5 release from Apple. iOS is Apple's mobile operating system, or OS. Originally developed for the iPhone, it has since been extended to support other Apple devices, such as the iPod touch and


A New Study Investigates the Abandonment Rate of Low Vision Devices

As a longtime vision rehabilitation and low vision therapist, I was very interested to read Abandonment of Low-Vision Devices in an Outpatient Population, which has been published online ahead-of-print as an article abstract in Optometry and Vision Science, the


Eye Care Practitioners are Beginning to Pay Attention to the Important "Quality of Life" Issues

I was pleased to read The direction of research into visual disability and quality of life in glaucoma, an insightful article that addresses quality of life (QoL) and visual impairment, in the online edition of BMC Ophthalmology. The authors are Fiona C. Glen, David P. Crabb, and David F. Garway-Heath, affiliated with the Department of Optometry and Visual Science, City University London; Moorfields Eye


The Hadley School for the Blind Opens the Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship

I just received a press release about an exciting new educational and employment program at The Hadley School for the Blind: On September 19, 2011, The Hadley School for the Blind officially opened enrollment for the Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship. The goal of the new Forsythe Center is to provide individuals who are visually impaired with the knowledge, resources, and networking opportunities that will enable them to advance in their careers and/or successfully launch and grow their own businesses. The Forsythe Center program includes a number


A Dialogue at Lunch with the Blind Food Critic and another Dialogue about Dialogue in the Dark

Many good things have happened in Daniel Aronoff's professional life recently, so I wanted to catch up with him again (and participate in yet another of his semi-decadent restaurant reviews, thinly disguised as a follow-up VisionAware Personal Story). Daniel is New York City's premier (and only, methinks) blind food critic. You can read about his always-interesting culinary experiences at


Carroll Center for the Blind Offers Two Online Courses on Diabetes and Vision Loss

Recently, I learned about two new web-based interactive courses on diabetes and vision loss, offered by The Carroll Center for the Blind's Carroll Tech Online Courses. Both new courses were developed by Margaret E. Cleary, RN, MS, CVRT®, a rehabilitation nurse, diabetes educator, and certified vision rehabilitation therapist


What is the Status of Low Vision Rehabilitation? Is It Keeping Pace with the Needs of Older Adults?

As many readers know, my lifelong professional passion has been, and continues to be, linking older adults who experience late-life vision loss with appropriate and helpful vision rehabilitation services. It's not always easy for older adults to find appropriate and helpful vision rehabilitation services, however. In About VisionAware, we say this about


A New Reading Partnership between American Printing House for the Blind and Dolly Parton

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) and the Dollywood Foundation have announced an innovative partnership that expands Dolly Parton's Imagination Library (DPIL) program to provide young blind and visually impaired children with accessible books. The Imagination Library partners with local sponsors in 1,300 communities in three countries to provide a quality, age-appropriate book each


A Great Opportunity: Vision Specialist in Vocational Rehabilitation Certificate

The Mississippi State University (MSU) National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC) recently received a five-year renewal of their federally-funded graduate certificate program for Vision Specialists in Vocational Rehabilitation. The program provides specialized training for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors from around the country. The Vision Specialist in Vocational Rehabilitation program consists of four graduate courses designed to train vocational rehabilitation counselors to become more effective in their work with


An Updated Clinical Trial for Totally Blind Individuals with Sleep Disorders

Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biotechnology company in Rockville, MD, is currently recruiting study participants for a Phase 3 clinical trial of an experimental drug treatment for totally blind individuals with no light perception who experience a sleep problem called "Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder." In the United States, this disorder affects approximately 65,000


A New Study about Age-Related Eye Disease and Mobility Limitations in Older Adults

Because I've always admired the work of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), I was excited to read about a new low vision and mobility study in the August 23, 2011 online edition of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, the official journal of ARVO. ARVO is an international organization that encourages and assists research, training, publication, and dissemination of knowledge in vision and ophthalmology,


A New Employment Research Project for College/Graduate Students and Mentors Who are Blind or Visually Impaired

Earlier this year, the Mississippi State University (MSU) National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC) was selected by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) as the federally-designated National Research and Training Center on Employment Outcomes for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired. This five-year, $4.25-million federal grant will support the NRTC's efforts to increase competitive opportunities and outcomes for blind or visually impaired individuals in the job market.


The Low Vision Design Committee of the National Institute of Building Sciences Needs You

The National Institute of Building Sciences is in the process of forming a multidisciplinary open committee to explore how design of the built environment can affect the needs of the millions of people with low vision in the United States. The Low Vision Design Committee The Low Vision


FCC Issues New Regulations for Television Audio Description for Blind and Visually Impaired Viewers

The Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, which was signed into law on October 8, 2010 by President Barack Obama, requires that smart phones, television programs, and other modern communications technologies be accessible to people with vision and/or hearing loss. As part of the implementation of the Act, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to require leading broadcast and cable channels to offer at least 50 hours of described programming (also called audio narration or video description)


Your Opportunity to Interact with the White House on Disability Issues

Do you want to become better informed about disability issues? The White House Disability Group has begun hosting monthly disability conference calls, during which the public can call in to learn about updates on a range of disability-related issues and meet individuals who work on disability issues in the federal government. Live captioning is available during the event. About the White House Disability Group The White House Disability Group is part of


A Risk Predictor for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

One of the questions I'm asked most frequently is this: Is there any way to predict if I'll get macular degeneration? Although it's not yet possible to definitively predict whether an individual will – or will not – experience age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Michael L. Klein, M.D. and colleagues have developed a simple risk assessment tool that may help answer the always-uncertain "prediction" question. In the December 2011


More Frequent Visual Field Testing May Lead To Earlier Detection of Glaucoma Progression

Here's more good news about glaucoma that builds upon, and enhances, quality of life issues. I was interested to read Influence of Visual Field Testing Frequency on Detection of Glaucoma Progression with Trend Analyses, an exploration of whether an increased frequency of visual field testing leads to earlier detection of glaucoma progression, in the August 8,


Could Avastin and Lucentis Trigger Elevated Eye Pressure?

The August 2011 issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology contains an article that caught my attention. In the article, entitled Sustained elevation of intraocular pressure after intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF agents (Translation: Sustained high pressure within the eye after injection with Avastin or Lucentis), the authors investigated several critical issues surrounding the longer-term safety of Lucentis and Avastin, injectable drugs used to treat macular degeneration. Some Background


myVisionTrack: A Prototype At-Home App for Monitoring Eye Disease

myVisionTrack is a prototype hand-held device currently in development as a potential at-home method for monitoring the progression of degenerative eye diseases, such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. (Dr. Yu-Guang He, associate professor of


Update on the Triggerfish® "Smart" Contact Lens for Glaucoma

Several months ago, I highlighted the Triggerfish® "smart" contact lens and a prototype implantable microchip, two devices that demonstrate exceptional promise in measuring and monitoring intraocular (i.e., within the eye) pressure that characterizes the most common types of glaucoma. Thus, I was pleased to learn that two new


My Afternoon with the Blind Food Critic

Last Tuesday was an excellent day. I met up with Daniel Aronoff, New York's only Blind Food Critic, as part of a forthcoming interview with Daniel in our Personal Stories series. Can you think of a better place to interview a food critic than in a restaurant? I certainly can't. But first we had to pick a spot. I suggested


An Excellent Series on Macular Degeneration from The New York Times

As our readers know, I am committed to investigating and reporting the latest information about macular degeneration, including ongoing research and clinical trial results; thus I am extremely pleased to note that the New York Times is presenting a three-pronged series on macular diseases and disorders. In the latest installment of the New York Times Patient Voices series, health writer Tara Parker-Pope introduces


Update on Stem Cell Clinical Trials for Dry Macular Degeneration and Stargardt's Disease

On Tuesday, July 12, 2011, Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) announced the treatment of the first two patients in its two Phase I/II clinical trials for Stargardt's disease and dry macular degeneration (AMD), using retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells derived from human embryonic stem cells. The procedures were carried out by principal investigator Steven Schwartz, M.D., Ahmanson Professor of Ophthalmology at the David Geffen School of


What Can Twins Teach Us About Macular Degeneration?

A recently published study of United States identical male twins indicates that eating a diet high in vitamin D, as well as the nutrients betaine and methionine, might help reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Betaine is found in fish, grains, and spinach, while methionine is found in poultry, fish, and dairy foods. The study, entitled Smoking, Dietary


Final Thoughts about the Meaning(s) of Blindness

It's a well-known fact that I love Twitter; still, the discussion I've been having with my blind Twitter followers about "words for blindness" takes my Twitterlove to new heights! Here's a recap: I asked my Twitter followers the following question via @visionaware: "I'm working on a story about words for blindness. Which words do you like? Which words do you emphatically not like?" That question triggered an intense, intelligent, and


More Thoughts about the Meaning(s) of Blindness: Words for Blindness

Last week, I initiated this somewhat esoteric exploration with a post entitled Initial Thoughts on the Meaning(s) of Blindness, Via Art, in which I explored the (mostly unanswerable) philosophical questions that surround the meanings of sight, vision, blindness, and cognition. But this week it gets real. No more philosophical flights of fancy or theoretical issues. This week, my Twitter followers speak out – and do they ever! Here's the question


Meet Paul and Jan Rachow, Founders of the Frog Town Low Vision Support Group

Paul and Jan Rachow, founders of the Frog Town Low Vision Support Group in Holland, Ohio, are longtime and faithful supporters of VisionAware; thus, it gives me great pleasure to report that their low vision support group is thriving. About the Frog Town Low Vision Support Group Frog Town is an independent, not-for-profit support group, started in June 2005, that provides information and support to adults who are blind, visually impaired, or


Initial Thoughts on the Meaning(s) of Blindness, via Art

Although I report most often on research and breaking news about blindness and vision loss, I also like to take the occasional flight of fancy and explore the (mostly unanswerable) philosophical questions that surround the meanings of sight, vision, blindness, and cognition. My Blog Inspirations Recently, I was inspired by philosopher Alva Noë's series on the National Public Radio (NPR) blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture.


The State of Vision, Aging, and Public Health in America: How Are We Doing?

Last weekend I was privileged to attend a professional meeting with a number of vision colleagues, one of whom was the prominent health scientist Dr. John Crews. John E. Crews, DPA, is a Health Scientist with the Vision Health Initiative of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Crews' specialties are vision impairment and aging, caregiving, and disability; his research


Doctor, Can I Still Drive? Part 2 of a Conversation with Richard Hom, OD, MPA

Guest blogger Dr. Richard Hom has served as a low vision specialist for the Permanente Medical Group's Golden Gate Service Area of three hospitals. Dr. Hom holds a Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of California and a Master's degree in Public Administration from San Francisco State University. You can follow Dr. Hom on Twitter @GrandRounds4ODs. Previously, Dr. Hom


Doctor, Can I Still Drive? A Conversation with Richard Hom, OD, MPA

Guest blogger Dr. Richard Hom has served as a low vision specialist for the Permanente Medical Group's Golden Gate Service Area of three hospitals. Dr. Hom holds a Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of California and a Master's degree in Public Administration from San Francisco State University. You can follow Dr. Hom on Twitter @GrandRounds4ODs. "Doctor, can I still drive?" "Will my license be taken away?" "How can I


A Wheelchair That Can "See" for Blind and Visually Impaired Users

A prototype electric wheelchair that can sense the environment and transmit information to a person who is blind or visually impaired is being developed and tested at Luleå University of Technology in Luleå, Sweden. The "sighted" wheelchair development team is headed by Kalevi Hyyppä, a professor at Luleå University, and includes prospective Ph.D. student Daniel Innala Ahlmark (pictured left, who is visually impaired and tested


Avastin vs. Lucentis for AMD: Preliminary Research Results

Preliminary results from the highly anticipated Comparison of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Treatments Trials (CATT) that tested the effectiveness of Avastin (bevacizumab) versus Lucentis (ranibizumab) in a head-to-head clinical trial are now available. CATT is a multi-center, prospective


A New Collaboration for Access to Inaccessible Packaging and Product Information

I've just received an intriguing new press release, issued jointly by Horizons for the Blind, Directions for Me, and A T Guys, Inc.. The service they are announcing is an interesting one: Two of the leading providers of accessible packaging information have joined forces to provide a new cutting-edge service for the blind and visually impaired. Horizons for the Blind, a not-for-profit organization and founder of


In Memoriam: Dr. Lorraine Marchi, Founding Director, National Association for Visually Handicapped

"We don't consider anyone blind who has usable vision. Ninety percent of the people who are considered blind aren't completely blind; they are hard-of-seeing." ~ Dr. Lorraine Marchi Excerpted from Dr. Marchi's obituaries in The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle: Dr. Lorraine June Fastie Marchi died in San Francisco on February 20, 2011, surrounded by family. Dr. Marchi was a


Stem Cell Therapy for Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Once again, Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) is in the news with yet another potential advance in stem cell therapy for macular disease, in this case for the dry form of macular degeneration. To better understand this latest development, here is background information from my prior blog post about ACT's initial stem cell therapy trial for Stargardt


Stem Cells for Stargardt's Disease

Wow. This is surprising – and groundbreaking – news. First, here's some background: In August of this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Judge Royce Lamberth of U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. had issued a preliminary injunction against federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. The judge stated that federal funding violated a 1996 law prohibiting federal money for research in which a human embryo was destroyed. Many federally funded stem cell research projects were placed on "clinical hold"


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