February is Low Vision Awareness Month and the National Eye Institute (NEI) is using the month to help raise awareness about low vision and vision rehabilitation.
Low vision, as defined by the Glaucoma Research Foundation, is “when even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery, people have difficulty seeing, which makes everyday tasks difficult to do. Activities that used to be simple like reading the mail, shopping, cooking, and writing can become challenging.” They go on to state that, “Most people with low vision are age 65 or older…[and] the leading causes of vision loss in older adults are age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataract, and glaucoma.” (1)
As NEI states, “With people in the United States living longer, eye diseases and vision loss have become major public health concerns. Currently, 4.2 million Americans ages 40 and older are visually impaired. By 2030, when the last baby boomers turn 65, this number is projected to reach 7.2 million, with 5 million having low vision.” Although vision cannot be repaired, vision rehabilitation “can help people with vision loss to maximize their remaining vision and maintain their independence and quality of life.” (2)
Native Focused Vision Programs
A few of the programs NICOA found online that are working with Natives include Project NATIVE and Seva.
Project NATIVE is focused in Oklahoma and serves American Indians with low vision through workshops that focus on life skills, orientation and mobility, self-advocacy, low vision aids, and recreation. For more information, visit http://www.aircinc.org/native.html. (3)
Seva launched the “American Indian Sight Initiative (AISI), a U.S. based program focused on addressing vision needs among Native Americans.” The program’s “current focus is on expanding eye care services to Native populations living in California and New Mexico. We are exploring providing support for American Indian vision technician training, making glasses more affordable, and telemedicine opportunities in the provision of prescription eyeglasses and diabetic retinopathy screening.” For more information, visit http://www.seva.org/site/PageServer?pagename=The_Launch_of_A_New_Initiative. (4)
- Glaucoma Research Foundation. (2017, October 29). February is Low Vision Awareness Month. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from https://www.glaucoma.org/news/february-is-low-vision-awareness-month.php
- National Eye Insitute. (n.d.). Low Vision Awareness Month. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from https://nei.nih.gov/nehep/lvam
- American Indian Resource Center, Inc. (n.d.). Project NATIVE. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from http://www.aircinc.org/native.html
- Seva. (n.d.). The Launch of A New Initiative! Retrieved February 16, 2018, from http://www.seva.org/site/PageServer?pagename=The_Launch_of_A_New_Initiative