The Sum of All Fears

20 10 2015

How many people saw the movie with Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman called, “The Sum of All Fears ?”   Terrorists build a nuclear bomb and blow up Baltimore during a football game and Ben Affleck has to try to stop WW3 with the Russians.  Scary as it is because it is realistic, for most people the sum of all fears is going blind.   A recent poll found that Americans rank “losing eyesight” highly among the worst health concerns that could affect them.  I have always heard speaking in public is the number one fear of adults.  But that you can overcome, as I did.  Short of a miracle, blindness is forever.

Blindness occurs at different levels however.  When people say someone is blind, that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t see anything at all, like pitch black darkness.  If you are legally blind, that just means you see worse than 20/200 even with the best pair of prescription glasses possible.  You might be able to see cars and trees but they are so blurred you can’t make out the details, even if you get up closer.  Some people have “no light perception” where they cannot even see a light at all.   That only makes up about 15% of people considered legally blind.  A better term for a lot of these people who have some vision, while not very clear, is “visually impaired.”

With the large increase in the aging population now that the baby boomers are becoming senior citizens,  we see a lot more macular degeneration.  It is the leading cause of blindness in those over 65 years old.   The central retina deteriorates and causes vision loss in the central vision making reading difficult or even impossible.  In worst cases people can’t see straight ahead to drive or even a person’s face they are talking too disappears in the central blind spot.  The often can see something out of the corner of their vision, like a chair on the side of the room but when they turn to look directly at it, it disappears.

People with a visual impairment like this often can be helped with low vision devices.    Whether a hand held magnifier, high powered reading glasses or a closed circuit television, there are different tools available for those with low vision.   They are like tools.  Some times a pair of pliers can be used for lots of different tasks, but sometimes you just need a pair of needle nosed pliers to do the job well.  Or the same can be said for shoes.   Sometimes casual shoes or tennis shoes  work, sometimes dress shoes are needed but sometimes you need to have some good work boots.

Low vision devices are no different.   When ordinary spectacle glasses and bifocals just don’t help enough to see anymore,  sometimes we need a different tool for the job.   A hand held magnifier may work great for a short glance at a medicine bottle.   Trying to read your mail might require a magnifier on a stand that you don’t have to hold and try to focus just right.  Reading a letter or looking over papers for more than 5 minutes would probably do better with the CCTV that can magnify what the person is looking at and display on a monitor screen 40X bigger.

There are other “tools” that can be used around the house for low vision patients to make their life easier and to help keep their independence.  Examples are large number phones, large number playing cards, voice assisted devices, large letter pill organizers, etc…  They can also help with counseling and other referrals to help stay independent as much as possible.  We can refer those with low vision starting at 20/70 best corrected visual acuity  to the Texas Department for the Blind Services for help from the state.  They can come to your home for an assessment of your needs around the house and see what they can provide.  The nearest local office is in Amarillo and their phone number is 806-351-3870 if you have questions about how they can help.  It’s your tax dollars so don’t feel bad about asking for help if you need it.  That is what they are there for.

The best way to avoid going blind is to have regular, annual eye wellness exams.   Most people with medical eye problems still see fine, until the end stages when it’s too late and all the damage is done.   Even if you think you see great, have your eye’s health examined every year.    Better to prevent problems and catch them early then waiting and then it’s too late.

Courtesy of Dumas Vision Source, PLLC and Dr Tory W. Moore, Optometric Glaucoma Specialist and Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry.    Serving the Dumas, Texas,  Moore County and upper Texas Panhandle area for 23 years.   Call (806) 935-2020 for appointment or visit our optical gallery without an appointment.  Visit our website for more information.  Like our Facebook business page:  Dumas Vision Source  and you can also connect on Twitter @eyedocdumas

Tory Moore, OD  – “A Hometown Eye Doctor You Know and Can Trust!”