Low Vision Summit at Thirwood Place First of its Kind on Cape

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Larry Lyford

CCB MEDIA PHOTO
Larry Lyford

YARMOUTH – A first of its kind event will take place at Thirwood Place in May. The Low Vision Summit is designed for seniors, caregivers and industry professionals.

The summit offers a series of short presentations focused on education and resources available to those with low or impaired vision.

The event on May 20 begins at 9:30 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast. Advance registration is required due to limited seating. Call Thirwood Place at 508-398-8006.

Feaured speakers at the event are Dr. Miriam Englander of Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston; Dr. Jennifer Salvo, a Low Vision Specialist; Debby King, Library Outreach Coordinator at Perkins Library; Shaun Kinsella, Statewide Director of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired; and Cynthia Stead, Executive Director of Sight Loss Services.

Specializing in macular degeneration, diabetes and retina disorders, Dr. Englander’s talk is entitled “Understanding Age-Related Macular Degeneration.” The talk will cover the two types of macular degeneration, wet and dry; symptoms of Macular Degeneration; treatments for dry and wet age-related macular degeneration; monitoring; and low vision aids

Dr. Salvo will speak about how low vision exams improve functioning and enable people to maximize the use of their remaining vision. These exams address the impact of vision loss on a person’s ability to perform tasks and activities. The goal of the low vision exam is to improve functioning; to enable the individual to maximize the use of his or her remaining vision to maintain independence and quality of life.

Dr. Salvo will also discuss devices to help improve functioning, including LED magnifiers, specialized reading glasses, telescope systems, video magnifiers.

During low vision exams, Dr. Salvo recommends and prescribes devices based on the patient’s goals and exam results.

Dr. Salvo notes that the low vision exam does not replace exams with a patient’s other eye care specialists. “You should continue to see your regular eye care providers for ongoing examinations, care, and treatment,” she states.

To maximize success with low vision devices, Dr.  Salvo often recommends in-home follow-up training with an occupational therapist who has a background in vision rehabilitation.

Lighting, contrast and glare are major concerns for many people with vision loss. Dr. Salvo’s exam addresses ways to improve task lighting and contrast for improved safety and functioning. If occupational therapy is recommended, the occupational therapist will further address lighting and safety at the home visit.

Dr. Salvo’s low vision exam is covered as a medical visit under insurance, including Medicare. She is also a contracted provider with the Mass. Commission for the Blind. For those who are legally blind, she coordinates care with the patient’s caseworker. The Commission may be able to provide some of the recommended devices. Other insurances generally do not pay for devices, except for some Mass. Health plans.

Debby King’s talk will focus on Perkins Library, the free public library for people who have difficulty reading regular print.

The library loans audio, braille and large print books along with the playback equipment to eligible individuals who are unable to read print materials due to a visual, physical or reading disability.

This presentation will include an overview of all services provided by the Perkins Library; an explanation of who is served by the Library; clarification of how an individual becomes a library patron; demonstration of Newsline enabling a patron to access the newspaper by telephone; and a demonstration of an audio-described DVD.

Shaun Kinsella will talk about in home vision rehabilitation from occupational therapists. His talk revolves around the fact that most people with vision loss still have some functional vision. He states that vision rehabilitation works and can be provided in a patient’s home. It is usually paid for by insurance. It can be used to help train in technology, like the use of iPads.

Cynthia Stead is Executive Director of Sight Loss Services, which offers local support programs on Cape Cod, adaptive aids and outreach services.

Stead states that Sight Loss Services programs are geared toward helping to reduce the fear and isolation caused by the onset of vision loss and toward helping to simplify the mechanics of daily living.

Based on a “peer support and self-help” philosophy, Sight Loss Services aims to foster an individual’s sense of self-worth and independence and to point the way for him or her to help others. Our programs include: self help support groups; adaptive aids; information and referral; education and awareness; outreach and independence services


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