Assistive Devices and Technology Help Seniors with Vision Problems

Assistive

 

Barbara Soderlund

As we age, it is common for our vision to change. For some, these changes mean greater difficulty in reading or working on the computer. Others may have cataracts that require out-patient surgery. Still others are facing more serious age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy that can have significant impact on independence and quality of life. 

The team at Community Low Vision Center at IFB Solutions (Industries for the Blind) in Winston-Salem works closely with seniors and their families to preserve their independence through assistive devices and easy-to-use technology such as:

  • Special magnifiers that offer continued enjoyment of favorite hobbies such as reading, cooking, needlepoint or woodworking.
  • Video magnifiers, often called CCTV (Closed Circuit Television), provide low-vision aid for many different types of visual needs from basic magnifying to contrast and color adjustment.
  • Video magnifiers that come in any number of formats from large desktop models to small, handheld devices that can be carried in a purse or pocket.
  • Innovative “talking” devices that can be programmed to read aloud fine-print items such as prescription labels.
  • Many varieties of talking watches and clocks.

The goal of Community Low Vision Center is to pair those with visual needs with the assistive tools that enable them to maintain and regain those activities that give them independence and a better quality of life. It can be a powerful and emotional experience for an individual to realize that they can return to following a recipe, reading a letter from a grandchild, or enjoying a book using one of our magnifying devices.

What makes the IFB Community Low Vision Center unique is their experienced team – two of their staff members have low vision and understand at a very personal level the challenges and frustrations that go along with facing a degenerative eye disease. They are experts with the products because they also use those same tools every day – at work and at home. They are also well connected with other low-vision resources in the community that partner with them. Their clients say that what they most value from coming to the IFB Community Low Vision Center is the expertise, experience and personal support of the team members.

Connecting with the Center is simple: It is open to the public Monday-Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., and appointments are encouraged but not required. There is no cost to be seen by a member of their team, and they work very hard to deliver an affordable range of prices for all of the devices. Through their Recycle for Sight program, they collect low vision assistive devices from individuals who no longer need them and recycle them to those who cannot afford the cost of new items.

Vision loss may not be preventable, but it is surmountable. Technology is improving every day to produce smarter, smaller, simpler solutions for regaining sight and personal independence that can help maximize the vision you have to enjoy a high quality of life.

Barbara Soderlund is the manager of Low Vision Services, of IFB Solutions located at 7730 North Point Blvd., Winston-Salem. For more information, call 336-245-5672.

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