Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Falling Wednesday - Preserving Your Vision

Next to dementia and cancer, I sometimes think falling is the greatest health challenge we face.

Last week, the mother in law of someone I know fell twice.  The first time, just bruised.  The second time, a broken pelvis.  She is in her 90's.  Her future is uncertain.

Every one of us knows one or more persons whose lives changed forever due to falls.

For the next few Wednesdays, I will be republishing posts written in 2015 and 2016 on the topic of falling.  I hope you will find some value in them.

Please, if you haven't yet had a falling episode, read these posts anyway.  Someone you know may need this information.  Additionally, please feel free to share these posts on social media, if you find them helpful.

Much of this information comes from information I learned in a falls prevention class.  As my regular readers know, I have fallen several times in the past few years.  And I'm only in my 60's.

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 (if uncorrectable) legal blindness.  Fortunately (at least up to now), it has been correctable with glasses.

During one of the falls prevention classes, 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". So:

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!  I know an eye cancer survivor - it was detected by 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.

Next week - how my falls prevention class journey began.

Day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

6 comments:

  1. I am always looking down at the pavement when I walk. Having fallen and broken both legs and ankles (two separate falls) I'd rather have folks criticize my walking than asking how I broke something.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this post with us on Falls as my dad has been falling a lot lately not to a vision problem but due to a Stroke. But knowing this I need to make sure he has eye exams on a regular basis as he does use glasses and I want him to remain healthy as he is in his 70's and falls at his age are worse. Have a Blessed day and I will be Praying for that mother in law to be fine.

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  3. Thank you for this important reminder about having vision checks and more about your expertise in fall prevention. I find agility helps with consistent walking, bike riding and dancing. I look forward to more about avoiding falls and improving our balance!

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  4. Something I've not even had on my radar. Till now. Downloaded the chart and already took the test for the first time. I will continue to do so. Thank you for the heads up! I look forward to your next posts!

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  5. I also would be legally blind without corrective lenses. Scary stuff.

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  6. I have cataracts but fortunately when they get bad, they can be corrected.

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