I've been reporting, from time to time, what I have been learning in a falls prevention class. As my regular readers know, I have fallen several times in the past few years. For the month of June, I am featuring a Falling Friday feature to share some of what I've learned with you.
I am extremely nearsided, and I learned about the importance of vision at an early age. I've been wearing glasses since I was four. Since the age of around eight, my non corrected vision has been in the realm of what the State of New York considers legal blindness. Fortunately (at least up to now), it has been correctable with glasses.
At our class Wednesday, we were treated to a talk by Diane McMillan of AVRE in Binghamton, New York. Diane is dual-certified as a low vision therapist and a vision rehab therapist, and personally suffers from a couple of disabling eye diseases. So, not only can she talk the talk, she also knows, from personal experience, what "it is like".
What is AVRE?
"AVRE is a private, non-profit organization that serves people with
sustained and severe vision loss. People of all ages, from infants to
seniors, can and do benefit from our services. We offer a range of
learning. living, and working options for people with sustained and
severe vision loss."
There are many eye diseases that can affect vision. Anyone suffering from these conditions becomes more prone to falling. In fact, a blogger I enjoy, Amy Bovaird , has blogged at length about her life with a vision disability, her adventures (if I can call them that) in falling and how her life has strengthened her faith. Amy's blog is Christian faith-centered but there are other bloggers with vision impairments who blog from a more secular viewpoint.
It turns out that a couple of people in my class suffer from macular degeneration. Diane explained it so well, complete with pictures taken that show the way people with macular degeneration will see a particular picture vs. people with healthy eyes, that I understand it better now. Amy Bovaird's blog has a lot of information about macular degeneration.
We also learned about glaucoma.
Diane's message was a message of hope. She taught us (noting I am not a medical professional, or vision professional, and you should have annual eye exams, always):
1. Be self aware. Test yourself monthly (it only takes a couple of minutes) with something called an Amsler Grid. Diane told us that you have any problems (the website describes what you are looking for when you use the grid) consider this an emergency and contact an eye care professional immediately. In general, if anything is amiss, err on the side of caution and report it to your eye care professional immediately. Sometimes, a timely exam can be the difference between a good outcome, and the opposite.
2. Have that annual eye exam! The eye cancer someone I know has made a full recovery from was detected on an annual eye exam.
3. If you are diagnosed with an eye disease, all is not lost. Some conditions can be treated. Other conditions may not respond to treatment, but with proper training, and assistance, you can still lead a worthwhile life. The two women in my class with macular degeneration were proof of that.
#3, especially, resonated with me, because I have always dreaded the day the eye doctor will say "we no longer have a prescription for you." I can hope that day never comes.
But if it does come, I hope I will understand it is not the end, but rather, a new beginning.