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Blindness news

AFB's VisionAware announces Aira (pronounced EYE-rah), an accessible technology that matches a blind person with a trained, sighted agent that provides real-time descriptions of surroundings, buildings, people, even reading menu items and assisting in independent travel.

It combines wearable smart glasses with an embedded video camera paired with a smartphone, a portable WiFi hotspot, and connects the wearer with a network of live certified agents who describe the environment around the blind person.


So you've been noticing that your vision isn't what it used to be, so you go to the ophthalmologist and he diagnoses it as FCED, Fuch's corneal endothelial dystrophy, a very rare eye disease with no known cause, that eventually will take your sight.

If your new oven, microwave, dishwasher or washing machine is frustrating you because you can't access the flat-screen digital controls, help is on the way.

Anne DeWitte of Tangible Surface Research, LLC worked in collaboration with RIT design students and ABVI to research tactile overlays for home appliances.  Two products were a result of this research - clear tactile overlays and tactile stickers.  With these products you can identify the location AND function of a digital control on your home appliance.

The National Eye Institute of the National Institute of Health is offering these tips to living a lifestyle for health vision. 

Have a regular comprehensive dilated eye exam.

National Eye Institute - NIH

Did you know that nearly 2 million Americans suffer from Age-Related Macular Degeneration? There are currently more than 40 million people age 65 and older in the United States, and that number is expected to double by 2050. As people age, their risk increases for eye diseases and conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye, glaucoma, and low vision.

Learn more about age-related macular degeneration.

What are you doing to protect your vision?

May 5, 2017

May is Healthy Vision Month and WXXI Reachout Radio wants to remind you that keeping your vision healthy allows you to see and enjoy all that the world and your life has to offer.

Did you know that people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, cataracts or glaucoma? 

Learn more about diabetic eye disease.

Vision loss due to stroke or brain trauma

May 1, 2017

If you've had a stroke or some other brain injury, you may have noticed changes in your vision - particularly on one side or the other.  Although there are multiple possibilities, we just learned about this one - homonymous hemianopsia, which is the loss of half of the field of view on the same side in both eyes. It generally happens when the optic nerve communication to the brain is interrupted.  You can read more about this and watch a video that explains it all here.

New Health Guide

So you see something floating around in your field of vision, and the doctor refers to "Floaters."  What does he mean by this, and what does that mean for your vision?  Dr. Mrinali Patel Gupta answers this and many other questions in an article for AFB's VisionAware about Retinal detachment, floaters, Retinal tears, what you should ask, what you should do, and when it might be appropriate for surgery.


The American Foundation for the Blind's website has a section for Everyday Living.  This month, author Steven Kelley share information on how apps and accessible technology have changed what it means to read for book lovers with vision loss.  Read the full article.

One day while watching the Ellen Degeneres Show, I stumbled upon two guests which captivated me.  Bryan and Bradford Manning are brothers born with a degenerative retinal eye disease that will one day, leave them blind. 

Foundation Fighting Blindness

Experts gathered at the Foundation Fighting Blindness to discuss the current state of therapy, challenges and opportunities in the treatment of Stargardt Disease, an inherited juvenile form of macular degeneration.  The group included research experts as well as physicians and individuals versed in the pharmaceutical industry and developments.  Information was presented on drug development and clinical trials.  

Learn more here.


Have you ever wanted to check your email or surf the web on the go? MagWin USB, a truly portable screen reading option, gives you access at a hotel, public library, school, even a friends or family members computer.

MagWin is one of the only screen magnifiers that is completely portable by offering a handy USB. Now you can operate your magnifier anywhere, anytime, on any system you need when you need it with the handy USB stick. No restrictions on public computers against granting rights.

The internet changes how we Watch Television

Feb 7, 2017

The internet has totally changed how people watch television programs, and smart TVs and streaming apps are making a whole new world available for people with vision loss.

Both the Apple TV and Amazon's Fire TV are accessible and include text-to-speech to enable complete access to the menus.

Roku is rolling out an update to their software on many devices, which will include a new screen reader, called "Audio Guide."

And at the rate technology is changing, the technology and apps we know today will probably be more advanced or updated even tomorrow.

Thanks to advances in technology, people with vision loss have many more resources and options for accessing print information. 

The American Foundation for the Blind has published an article about Five Reading Apps that can make books, newspapers and other print available on many devices, including a table or smart phone.

Read the full article.

The Democrat and Chronicle for Monday, January 23rd tells the story of a program at East High School training students to screen for vision problems and help other students get free eyeglasses to improve their vision and their success in school.

Teacher Logan Newman, a former Navy optician began the career and technical education program in the 2010-2011 school year thanks to a state grant.

Read the full article here.

Tax time is right around the corner. Need help with accessibility? Check out this captioned and audio described video for information on accessible forms etc.

Hundreds of accessible federal tax forms and publications are available for download from the IRS.  You can choose from large-print, text, accessible PDFs, e-Braille, or HTML formats that are compatible when used with screen readers and refreshable Braille displays.

January is Braille Literacy Month

Jan 18, 2017

January is Braille Literacy Month. The use of braille in schools is often a topic of discussion and disagreement. There are some that believe braille is no longer needed. Others are firm believers that braille is a key tool for literacy.

12-year-old Hari Bhimaraju of Cupertino, California, has always been fascinated by science and technology, and she's putting her skills to good use by creating tools for the visually impaired.

Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic | Eau Claire

If you are dealing with Age-Related Macular Degeneration, you can help with a national research study; but time is of the essence, as there are just two more weeks to participate in this survey.

We've all heard the saying that "kids don't come with an instruction manual," and parenting isn't easy.  But what if you're a blind or visually impaired parent?  You are not alone!

Whether you are just considering having children, or if you're at one of those stages like potty training, sending them off to school, or the dreaded teenage years, The American Foundation for the Blind has resources for you.

Lots of links and resources here.

If you saw the new documentary Sight: The Story of Vision recently on WXXI television, you should know that there is now a companion e-book available for download from the iBooks store.

The book is viewable on iPads, Kindles, other eBook readers, other IOS and Android devices, and computers.

Just because you've been diagnosed with macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy or cataracts, doesn't mean that you have to give up playing games with the grandchildren.

The American Foundation for the Blind has a number of adapted games, as well as ideas on how you can adapt games for your yourself.  Learn more.

Is a Guide Dog right for you?

Oct 10, 2016

So you grew up with a puppy and dogs have always been a part of your life.  But what if you've never experienced that bond of "man's best friend?" 

When vision loss comes, you may be considering whether a guide dog might be right for you.  After all, what can a guide dog do for you?

Did you know that people of Hispanic and Latino ancestry are more likely to develop diabetes and diabetes-related vision problems? 

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, here's a look at specific health-related problem related to diabetes.  Resources and information are available in English and Spanish.  Learn more.

What do you know about Usher Syndrome?

Oct 3, 2016

Usher syndrome is an inherited condition characterized by hearing impairment and progressive vision loss. The vision loss is due to retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a degenerative condition of the retina, and usually appears during adolescence or early adulthood. Balance may also be affected. Symptoms vary from person to person and progress at different rates.  Learn more about who's at risk, related diseases and treatments.

As I troll the internet looking for information on vision loss, vision research, treatments, studies and daily living tips, I'm always amazed when I find an organization I've never heard of before.  That is the case with the Bright Focus Foundation, an organization that supports research for Alzheimer's, Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma.  In this article, Dr.

Find out how Joy Efron's surgery went and what contributed to her successful Macular Hole Surgery. 

Joy's story continues.

Why are so many websites inaccessible?

Sep 14, 2016

So you have accessible devices, such as a screen reader or refreshable braille display.  Yet you're still having trouble accessing information or navigating websites.  Why?  This article from sheds light on this subject as well as some compliance information, reflections on the needs of users, and the work that's yet to be done.  Read the full article.

Joy R. Efron, Ed.D. relates her story of surviving the recovery process after surgery for a macular hole.  This story will be related over a series of posts. 

You'll also learn that a macular hole is very different than Macular Degeneration or a Detached Retina.  You'll learn about the symptoms, the surgery, and the challenges of recovery.  Read Joy's Story.

Vision Health USA Today supplement

Sep 9, 2016

Today's USA Today has a wonderful supplement called Vision Health with several articles about low vision and a great cover story about Super Bowl MVP Von Miller who details how his personal battle with poor vision inspired him to help underprivileged kids in Denver.

Read this article and all the stories.