Friday, April 24, 2009

Helping the blind to read

My mother had macular degeneration, a disease that destroys straight ahead vision but leaves peripheral vision. She could no longer sew or read or see the faces of people right in front of her. But fortunately, we found the Iowa Department for the Blind. The tips they shared, including the use of puff paint to mark stove and washing machine dials, microwave buttons, and radio & TV remote controls, allowed Mom a quality of life in caring for herself in her own home that she'd have lost without them.

The biggest blessing of all, though, was Talking Books. The Department for the Blind provided the player and librarians quickly learned Mom's preferences in books and authors - biographies and Louis L'Amour. Books arrived in her mailbox and when Mom was finished, she returned them to her mailbox in the postage paid mailers. She was never without a book to 'read.' And her reading resulted in weekly book discussions between us.

When I published my book Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl, I was fortunate to be able to read it for the Iowa Department for the Blind Library, thereby making it available to everyone with low vision.

During the process of reading my book for their library, I learned that tens of thousands of Iowans qualify for the services of the Department but only a few thousand use them. That's a shame. The services are free. The quality of life bestowed, priceless. If you know someone with low vision, don't hesitate. Give the Department for the Blind a call.

1 comment:

  1. As people continue to live longer, the incidence of eye disease such as macular degeneration is on the rise. These types of debilitating eye diseases rob people of vision, and can result in individuals losing their independence.

    It is believed that the visual system requires up to 25% of the nutrients we take into our bodies in order to stay healthy. Impaired circulation and/or poor absorption of nutrients can significantly contribute to eye disease. Regular exercise and management of emotional stress are also critical for maintaining health.

    Eye conditions/diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and may others can be responsive to specific nutritional supplementation

    For example. there is a great deal of peer review research now showing the vision can be preserved through a proper diet and specific nutritional supplementation, and that macular degeneration is a nutritionally responsive eye disease.

    The recent B vitamin study showing that those that supplement with B6, B12 and folic acid have a significant lower risk of getting macular degeneration is one of many studies proving macular degeneration to be a nutritionally responsive eye disease.

    Archives of Ophthalmology recently published a meta analysis on omega-3 fatty acid and fish intake and its effect on the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
    This study identified 274 abstracts, 3 prospective cohort, 3 case-control, and 3 cross-sectional studies.

    Using quantitative methods, a high dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids was associated with a 38% reduction in the risk of late AMD. Fish intake (2x per week) was associated with reduced risk of early and late AMD.

    More omega-3 and AMD specific studies need to be conducted to further investigate omega-3¹s effect on AMD.

    Ref: Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126(6):826-833.

    Essential nutrients include lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, taurine, gingko biloba, lycopene, vitamin A, E, zinc, copper, selenium for example, that can help both prevent the onset of eye disease such as macular degeneration as well as help preserve vision for those with macular degeneration.

    Daily eye exercises also help maintain healthy vision. For a demo of 3 great eye exercises by Dr. Grossman, one of the Country's leading behavioral optometrists, go to

    For more information on nutrition and macular degeneration and related research studies, go to Natural Eye Care for Macular Degeneration