John, a member of POB's Stargardt's Network

About 16 years ago, John was told by his ophthalmologist that he would lose his vision to a condition called Stargardt’s disease, an inherited disorder of the retina that causes a loss of central vision, or macular degeneration, often during childhood or adolescence. In the last few years in particular, his vision has deteriorated significantly.

John learned about the Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington® (POB) and its Stargardt’s Network through an acquaintance who was also struggling with the disorder, and he began attending the monthly support group meetings. He says that each time he attends, he not only walks away with information about useful tools and resources for individuals with low vision, but he walks away motivated to face the challenges of his vision loss head-on.

“My involvement has helped me stay motivated to not get down, to stay positive, and to learn what other tools are out there. … I learn something every month. I walk away, I come home, and I tell my wife, ‘I feel so much better because I learned this,’ and it’s uplifting.”

Perhaps you also know what it is like to face vision loss – to have challenges with daily tasks such as reading the mail, shopping, cooking and writing. Or perhaps you have a loved one who is living with low vision as a result of macular degeneration, glaucoma or another common eye disease. Maybe you can only imagine what it would be like to lose your sight and how that would affect your life and your independence.

Staff and volunteers at POB work not only to prevent the needless loss of sight, but to empower those with vision loss to make the most of what sight they have. They help members of the community cope with vision loss through monthly support and resource share groups, and retain their independence through personalized vision rehabilitation at the Low Vision Learning Center. This support is invaluable to so many who may otherwise feel helpless in the face of vision loss.

In the next 15 years, as the baby boomer population ages, the number of Americans living with low vision is expected to increase by 72 percent – from 2.9 million to almost 5 million people. The need for these services is greater than ever and growing.

As POB moves into its 80th year serving this community, you can support local vision programs so that more individuals like John can find help in the face of vision loss, and so that thousands of others can benefit from POB’s free vision screenings and eye exams, receive affordable eyeglasses, and take advantage of our many sight-saving services.

Give the gift of sight this holiday season! Please consider making a donation online at

Happy Holidays!

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Many of you may know that radio personality and POB friend Ed Walker passed away on Oct. 26. Only two short years ago, Ed was invited by POB to speak at a Vision Support Lunch & Learn holiday event at Friendship Heights Village Center in Chevy Chase. Chevy Chase had been his home with his family and wife Nancy for “too many years to count,” Ed said. Ed and Nancy had just moved to a lovely senior living community once they both started facing numerous aging challenges.

As many of you may know, Ed was born “totally blind,” and he worked hard to not let his blindness get in the way of his becoming an award-winning radio personality. Ed was a very humble man. When we asked him to speak about “change,” he laughed and doubted anyone would think that very interesting. What he didn’t think about at that time was that much of the audience was going to be at the stage in life where they, too were looking at housing alternatives as they aged with the threat of vision loss. He opened up about how differently his life had become since the move to a high-rise building where nobody spoke in the elevators – it reminded him of what “blind” once felt like. Ed solved that “problem” by asking, like an announcer, when he entered elevators in his new home – “Anyone in here?”

For those of us at the Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington who got to know Ed as an Honorary Board Member, a loyal listener, or friend – we are all richer because he was here. In recognition of all that he contributed in making the world better for people with profound vision loss, POB is holding a Vision Support Lunch & Learn program on Thursday, Dec. 10 at Friendship Heights Village Center, where we will remember and discuss the topic – “Courtesies Toward People who are Vision Impaired.”

We have a lot of quiet elevators here, Ed, where people do not talk! Maybe we can help change that for you.

Learn more about the December event, “Courtesies Toward People who are Vision Impaired.

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The upcoming holiday season presents opportunities for travel to be with family and friends. However, for those who are visually impaired, even a short flight or a bus ride can feel overwhelming and stressful.

Proper planning can alleviate many difficulties, such as getting through security to the right airport gate, boarding a train, managing money and credit cards, and making sure all of one’s belongings arrive safely. At the Macular Degeneration Network on Sunday, Dec. 13, learn from Gail Snider, independent travel advocate, about suggestions and tips to ensure that your trip is safe and enjoyable.

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ShumateA special meeting of the Low Vision Resource Group will be held at Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library, Thursday, Dec. 10, 1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. to welcome LaToya Shumate, Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and Orientation and Mobility Specialist.

Ms. Shumate works at the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI). DBVI is an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia and is dedicated to its mission of providing services and resources which empower Virginians, of all ages, who are experiencing significant visual disabilities to achieve their desired levels of personal independence.

Don’t miss this opportunity to set new goals for 2016 with the KNOWLEDGE to be gained from this program.

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If you have been told “nothing more can be done with regular corrective eyeglasses, contact lenses, medicine or surgery,” you likely have low vision. Don’t panic! There are many resources that can provide help. If you are having difficulty learning to live with vision changes, a support group can be a great source of information and guidance.

POB groups provide opportunities to learn how other people are coping with sight loss and information about resources that will help you learn how to do old things in new ways. If your eye doctor has indicated that you could progressively lose more sight, POB programs are designed to help you get prepared. You may need to learn about new skills and technology for daily living. Many people with low vision don’t know that help is available.

Know that much of what has to be done to keep your quality of life must be done by you but POB wants you to know – you are not alone! We understand that losing even a small part of your sight can be devastating, but know this: YOU CAN MAKE THE MOST OF IMPAIRED SIGHT!

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Sunday, November 15, 1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. Sibley Medical Building

In this age of information, there is no shortage of diabetes related books, cookbooks, websites and magazines. Unfortunately, information about diabetes is not always credible. How do you decide that the information you read or hear about is safe and reliable? Fortunately you don’t have to do this by yourself.

Meet Sibley’s Rosemary Oshinsky, MSN, RN, CDE, (Certified Diabetic Educator), who can help you understand what is going on inside your body, and focus on healthy eating, being active, monitoring taking medication, problem solving, healthy coping and reducing risks.

This special event is co-sponsored with POB’s Aging Eye/Macular Degeneration Network and Sibley Senior Association. Free parking and “healthy” refreshments will be available.

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Cataract, Glaucoma & Diabetic Retinopathy

There are times when a well-kept secret is exactly what you want. But not when it comes to sight-saving information for those with prediabetes or diabetes. Do you know that cataracts are more likely to form at an early age, glaucoma is twice as likely to occur and you are at increased risk for retina disorders if you are diabetic? This is true of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Learn about current research and treatment updates during POB’s November EyeSight InSights events in recognition of National Diabetes Awareness Month. Don’t miss this opportunity to update your understanding of what you can do to help save your sight!

See calendar of events for locations and more details!

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2015 Update & Community Awareness Day

Wednesday, November 18: 11:45 a.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Exhibitors, Light Lunch & Expert Keynote Speakers Leisure World (LW), Clubhouse Two Auditorium

Are you or someone you care about one of the 30 million people in the United States who is affected by diabetes? Are you aware that an additional 90 million American adults – more than one out of three – has “pre-diabetes,” a condition that puts people at increased risk for the disease and its consequences? All people with Type 1 and Type 2 are at risk for diabetic eye diseases. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of profound vision loss or blindness in adults. More than 8 million people age 40 and older have diabetic retinopathy, and this is expected to rise 40 percent by 2030 when all baby boomers will have turned 65.

Learn about past, present and future sight-saving research with an eye on cutting edge treatment options to preserve vision. Diabetic eye disease experts Reshma Katira, M.D. and Gayatri Reilly, M.D. of Retina Group of Washington (RGW) will share their vast knowledge! Visit information and resource exhibits, get free glaucoma screenings and enjoy free light lunch!

Event co-sponsored by POB with The Retina Group of Washington, Leisure World Lions, and MedStar Health. For more information and to reserve a light lunch, call 301-538-9358.

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Techniques to help maximize your sight

Thursday, October 15: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Vision Support Lunch & Learn Friendship Heights Village Center

Lighting takes on additional importance as we grow older. Even normal, healthy eyes generally require twice as much illumination at age 50 as they did at age 25. For people with limited vision, lighting can become an even more critical factor.

POB’s Vision Support Group invites you to hear Terry Eason, Executive Director of the Low Vision Center of Bethesda, at the Friendship Heights Village Center from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. as she discusses types of lighting and shares techniques and tips to help maximize your sight! Call the Village Center to reserve free light lunch 301-656- 2797.

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Learn about 21st Century portable, mobile & “new wearable” technology!

Today’s technology for vision loss is miraculous. If you or a loved one has impaired sight, you know how difficult everyday tasks can be. Join POB’s Aging Eye / Macular Degeneration Network at Sibley Medical Building on Oct. 18 to learn about 21st-century portable, mobile and “new wearable” technology including the much anticipated “OrCam.”

These technologies help with reading, writing, facial and product recognition, color and much more! Join guest expert Moira Williams, Envision Technology, who works with adults and children with vision changes and other challenges, identifying assistive technology solutions to promote access, function and productivity.

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