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What is Vision Loss?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Blindness is a severe vision impairment not correctable by standard glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery.  It interferes with a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.”  “Legal Blindness” is defined as vision with best correction in the better eye worse than or equal to 20/200 or a visual field of less than 20 degrees in diameter.  “Legal Blindness” is significant in determining eligibility for disability benefits from the federal government, but it does not reflect the precise functional impairment and disability.  Vision Impairment (VI) is defined as having 20/40 or worse vision in the better eye even with glasses.  However, people with the slightest VI can experience challenges in their daily living activities.  For example, people with vision less than 20/40 cannot obtain an unrestricted driver’s license in most states.

Vision Data & Statistics
According to the CDC:
  • 3.4 million (3%) Americans aged 40 years and older are either blind (having visual acuity [VA] of 20/200 or less or a visual field of less than 20 degrees) or visually impaired (having VA of 20/40 or less).
  • 1,600,000 Americans aged 50 years and older have age related macular degeneration
  • 5.3 million people (about 2.5% of all people) aged 18 years and older have diabetic retinopathy.
  • 20.5 million people have cataract (about 16%) among Americans aged 40 years and older
  • 2.2 million people have glaucoma (about2% ) among Americans aged 40 years and older

For more information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/data/national


The four most common causes of vision loss are:

Age Related Macular Degeneration

  • According to Mayo Clinic “Dry macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that causes vision loss in the center of your field of vision. Dry macular degeneration is marked by deterioration of the macula (MAK-u-luh), which is in the center of the retina. The layer of tissue on the inside back wall of your eyeball.
  • Dry macular degeneration is one of two types of age-related macular degeneration. The other type — wet macular degeneration — is characterized by blood vessels that grow under the retina in the back of the eye, leaking blood and fluid. Dry macular degeneration is the more common form of the disease.
  • Dry macular degeneration may worsen your quality of life by causing blurred central vision or a blind spot in your central vision. You need clear central vision for many tasks, such as reading, driving and recognizing faces.
  • Wet macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that causes vision loss in the center of your field of vision. Wet macular degeneration is generally caused by abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid or blood into the region of the macula (MAK-u-luh). The macula is in the center of the retina (the layer of tissue on the inside back wall of your eyeball).
  • Wet macular degeneration is one of two types of age-related macular degeneration. The other type — dry macular degeneration — is more common and less severe. Wet macular degeneration almost always begins as dry macular degeneration. It’s not clear what causes wet macular degeneration.
  • Early detection and treatment of wet macular degeneration may help reduce vision loss and, in some instances, improve vision.”

To learn more about ADM visit the Mayo Clinic or the National Eye Institute at the links below.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/macular-degeneration/basics/definition/con-20075882

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wet-macular-degeneration/basics/definition/con-20043518

https://www.nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts

Glaucoma

  • According to Mayo Clinic “Glaucoma is not just one eye disease, but a group of eye conditions resulting in optic nerve damage, which may cause loss of vision. Abnormally high pressure inside your eye (intraocular pressure) usually, but not always, causes this damage.
  • Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma can damage your vision so gradually you may not notice any loss of vision until the disease is at an advanced stage. The most common type of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma, has no noticeable signs or symptoms except gradual vision loss.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment can minimize or prevent optic nerve damage and limit glaucoma-related vision loss. It’s important to get your eyes examined regularly, and make sure your eye doctor measures your intraocular pressure.”  To learn more about Glaucoma visit the Mayo Clinic or the National Eye Institute at the link below.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/glaucoma/basics/definition/con-20024042

https://www.nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts

Diabetic Retinopathy

  • According to Mayo Clinic “Diabetic retinopathy (die-uh-BET-ik ret-ih-NOP-uh-thee) is a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes. It’s caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina).
  • At first, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms or only mild vision problems. Eventually, however, diabetic retinopathy can result in blindness.
  • Diabetic retinopathy can develop in anyone who has type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. The longer you have diabetes, and the less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy.
  • To protect your vision, take prevention seriously. Start by carefully controlling your blood sugar level and scheduling yearly eye exams.”  To learn more about diabetic retinopathy visit the Mayo Clinic or the National Eye Institute at the link below.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-retinopathy/basics/definition/con-20023311

https://www.nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy

Cataract

  • According to Mayo Clinic “A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye. For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window.
  • Clouded vision caused by cataracts can make it more difficult to read, drive a car (especially at night) or see the expression on a friend’s face.
  • Most cataracts develop slowly and don’t disturb your eyesight early on. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision.
  • At first, stronger lighting and eyeglasses can help you deal with cataracts. But if impaired vision interferes with your usual activities, you might need cataract surgery. Fortunately, cataract surgery is generally a safe, effective procedure.”  To learn more about Cataracts visit the Mayo Clinic or the National Eye Institute at the link below.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/basics/definition/con-20015113

https://www.nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts


Sighted Guide Technique

“Sighted guide technique enables a person who is blind to use a person with sight as a guide. The technique follows a specific form and has specific applications.”

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) provides direction in sighted guide technique.

  • Offer to guide a person who is blind or visually impaired by asking if he or she would like assistance. Be aware that the person may not need or want guided help; in some instances it can be disorienting and disruptive. Respect the wishes of the person you are with.
  • If your help is accepted, offer the person your arm. To do so, tap the back of your hand against his or her hand. The person will then grasp your arm directly above the elbow. Never grab the person’s arm or try to direct him or her by pushing or pulling.
  • Relax and walk at a comfortable normal pace. Stay one step ahead of the person you are guiding, except at the top and bottom of stairs and to cross streets. At these places, pause and stand alongside the person. Then resume travel, walking one step ahead. Always pause when you change directions, step up, or step down.
  • It is helpful, but not necessary, to tell the person you are guiding about changes in terrain, stairs, narrow spaces, elevators, and escalators.
  • The standard form of sighted guide technique may have to be modified because of other disabilities or for someone who is exceptionally tall or short. Be sure to ask the person you are guiding what, if any, modifications he or she would like you to use.
  • When you are acting as a guide, never leave the person in “free space.” When walking, always be sure that the person has a firm grasp on your arm. If you have to be separated briefly, be sure the person is in contact with a wall, railing, or some other stable object until you return.
  • To guide a person to a seat, place the hand of your guiding arm on the seat. The person you are guiding will find the seat by following along your arm.”

If you would like to learn more please enjoy the following video created by Washington State School for the Blind.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoRQiG_hlHk

Organizations

Dart Paratransit

Mission:  The mission of DART First State and the Delaware Transit Corporation, an operating division of the Delaware Department of Transportation, is to design and provide the highest quality public transportation services that satisfy the needs of the customer and the community

http://www.dartfirststate.com/information/paratransit/index.shtml

Delaware Assistive Technology

Mission:  The Delaware Assistive Technology Initiative (DATI) endeavors to improve access to assistive technology for all Delawareans with disabilities.

http://www.dati.org/

The Division for the Visually Impaired (DVI)

Mission:  The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ Division for the Visually Impaired assists eligible Delawareans who are blind or visually impaired in making informed choices to achieve full inclusion in society through employment, independent living and social self-sufficiency.

http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dvi/about.html

American Council of the Blind

Mission:  The American Council of the Blind strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and quality of life, for all blind and visually-impaired people.

http://www.acb.org/

American Foundation for the Blind

Mission:  The American Foundation for the Blind removes barriers, creates solutions, and expands possibilities so people with vision loss can achieve their full potential.

http://www.afb.org/default.aspx

Leader Dogs for the Blind

Mission:  Our mission is empowering people who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind with lifelong skills for independent travel through quality Leader Dogs, highly effective client instruction and innovative services.

http://www.leaderdog.org/

National Eye Institute

Mission:  As part of the federal government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Eye Institute’s mission 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 problems and requirements of the blind.”

https://www.nei.nih.gov/

National Federation of the Blind

Mission:  The mission of the National Federation of the Blind is to achieve widespread emotional acceptance and intellectual understanding that the real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight but the misconceptions and lack of information which exist. We do this by bringing blind people together to share successes, to support each other in times of failure, and to create imaginative solutions.

https://nfb.org//

The Seeing Eye

Mission:  The Seeing Eye is a philanthropic organization whose mission is: to enhance the independence, dignity and self-confidence of people who are blind, through the use of specially trained Seeing Eye® dogs.

http://www.seeingeye.org/

Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind

Mission:  To improve the quality of life for people who are blind, visually impaired,
or with other special needs.

http://www.guidedog.org/

 

 

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