February: AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month
January 31, 2011
I suppose it's a bit of our human nature to not appreciate certain things until we begin to lose them or don't have them at all. You know, like when the electricity goes off ~ how many times do you automatically and futilely flick the light switch? Same with when the water is off, or the car is in the shop, or in my case, the snow-blower is in for repair (yikes!) These examples cause serious disruption in our ability to navigate through the days, but they pale in comparison to when we begin to lose our sensory perceptions, i.e., hearing or eyesight.
February is AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month. According to Maria Basile, PhD and Pamela J. Nutting, MS, CGC, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of vision loss among adults over age 55 living in developed countries. It is caused by the breakdown of the macula, the central part of the retina located in the back of the eye. AMD can result in the loss of straight-on vision while not affecting peripheral vision. Sharp, straight-on vision is required for driving, reading, watching television, and performing most daily tasks.
Dealing with impaired or loss of eyesight must be extremely difficult and doubly challenging because of the increased likelihood of it occurring as we age. To paraphrase Bette Davis, growing old is not for sissies. Yet, there is help available; tools and devices to give someone suffering from impaired, low, or total loss of vision some relief along with the ability to maintain some sense of normalcy or independency of others.
Most simply, there are optical aids such as magnifiers. Non-optical aids include large print books and audio recordings (including downloadables from NetLibrary and Overdrive). In the past, large print editions and audio recordings of popular books were not published until the standard print edition had been out for quite some time. Now, perhaps in response to the vast number of aging baby boomers, large print and audio book recordings are being published simultaneously with the standard print edition.
High-tech aids include reading machines, closed captioned television and video recordings, and audio-enhanced video recordings. Audio-enhanced video recordings are described so the low-visioned viewer knows the action taking place. More and more adaptive technology is being developed every day. Colbern Road and Lee's Summit Branches have low-vision reading machines available for anyone to use at the branch. MCPL offers a huge collection of closed captioned videorecordings and nearly 100 audio-enhanced video recordings. All of these materials can be borrowed from your local library branch or delivered right to your doorstep through MCPL's Library-By-Mail service. How does it work? To Register: Print and fill out the Library-By-Mail Registration Form or call Library-By-Mail at 816-503-4175 to request a form by mail. Make requests Monday-Friday from 9-11am or 2-4pm. Leave after-hours requests on the answering machine.
Finally, Wolfner Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped provides informational and recreational materials in braille and audio formats. This is a free service to Missourians who are unable to use standard print materials due to blindness, visual or physical impairment, or a reading disability, either temporary or permanent. Wolfner Library is part of the National Library Service for the Blind. All of their materials are mailed directly to one's home free of charge through the U.S. Postal Service. In addition to the types of materials available through MCPL, Wolfner Library offers a touch-tone, toll-free statewide telephone service for individuals who cannot read a printed newspaper. Applications for Wolfner Library services are available at Colbern Road Branch or from Wolfner Library direct at 1-800-392-2614 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colbern Road Branch