Managing Parkinson’s Disease, Movement Disorders & Visual Changes

Michael J. Fox brought attention to Parkinson’s Disease (PD) for millions of people around the world after his own 1992 diagnosis. His advocacy has shined light on the importance of information to cope with the facts and myths of the ailment. In the spirit of Fox’s efforts, join nationally recognized guest physicians and experts from Johns Hopkins Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Center and Sibley Memorial Hospital’s Center for Rehabilitation Medicine on April 11 at this groundbreaking symposium. This comprehensive educational opportunity is at Friendship Heights Village Center and includes free parking and continental breakfast.

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• Remove tripping hazards from stairs and walkways.

• Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep rugs from slipping.

• Use grab bars and non-slip mats in your tub or shower.

• Improve the lighting in your home with brighter lights, and use lamp shades or frosted bulbs to reduce glare.

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Low vision apps and accessibility features

The Vision Support Lunch & Learn invites you to attend an exciting opportunity to learn about the iPad Test Drive Program for those who want to try before they buy, as well as those who own an iPad and want more instruction. Learn from Moira Williams, Founder of Envision Technology, Inc. of Bethesda on Thursday, March 19 at Friendship Heights Village Center.

Moira is a trusted expert instructor in the field of technology training for individuals with impaired sight. Accessible devices have had a positive impact worldwide. Training for consumers on iPads, other tablets and smart phones is no longer limited to traditional technology students. Seniors with and without vision loss are learning to use these devices and are improving their quality of life in the process.

Registration for complimentary lunch is requested.

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Government offers talking banknote identifiers

As part of the U.S. government’s Meaningful Access Initiative, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will provide an iBill Talking Banknote Identifier at no cost to all eligible visually impaired people who request one. The iBill Talking Banknote Identifier is a fast and accurate way to identify all U.S. bills in circulation – $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100.

According to the CDC’s 2012 National Health Interview Survey, more than 9 million people with vision loss in the U.S. have a family income of less than $35,000. This means that even though smartphones are developing apps that can help with reading currency, it is a financial hardship for many people to afford them. Phase 2 of this project began in January of 2015 to make the iBill Talking Banknote Identifier available at no cost to all eligible visually impaired or blind people.

If you are a member of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, you are automatically eligible. For more details, call the Bureau of Engraving & Printing at 1-844-815-9388 to order your currency reader.

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Glaucoma Awareness Month

Don’t let glaucoma get in your way.

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damages the eye’s optic nerve, which carries visual signals to the brain. It can lead to vision loss or blindness if left untreated. Quite frequently, by the time people are diagnosed with glaucoma, they’ve already begun to notice changes in their side, or peripheral, vision.

While anyone can get glaucoma, people at higher risk for glaucoma include African Americans age 40 and older; everyone over age 60, especially Hispanics/Latinos and those with a family history of the disease.

glaucomaA comprehensive dilated eye exam may help save your sight because when glaucoma is detected early, it can be controlled through medications or surgery. If you are at higher risk, make sure you get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every 1 to 2 years and encourage family members to do so as well.

Don’t wait until you notice problems with your vision to see an eye care professional. A low-cost exam may be available to you through Medicare. For more information, call 1–800–MEDICARE or visit

For additional information about glaucoma, visit or call NEI at 301–496–5248.


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The National Eye Institute encourages individuals to develop a safe, effective system for organizing and identifying our medications – what they are, the prescribed or recommended dosage and how often we need to take them. The following tips are designed to help people with less sight manage their medications:

  1. Ask your pharmacy if they provide large-print labels for medication bottles. You may also find it helpful to mark bottles with tactile dots or rubber bands.
  2. Use talking medication identifiers if large-print labels are not available or don’t work for you. iPhones and other cell phones can take a photo of your label and speak it to you in VoiceOver mode.
  3. Use a covered tray with good contrast to help you see your pills and keep them from falling on the floor if they drop.
  4. Place a light close to the labels. Again, refer to new cell phone technology options that often include an app for a very bright light.
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Don’t miss the Macular Degeneration Network’s 2015 Town Hall Meeting and hear from three physicians: Suleiman Alibhai, O.D., Director of POB’s Low Vision Learning Center; Donald Gagliano, M.D., retired Colonel and former Executive Director of the Department of Defense Vision Center of Excellence; and invited guest Michael Summerfield, M.D., Director of MedStar Ophthalmology Residency Program.

Learn about new research and technologies, innovations in ophthalmology residency training, and the availability of low vision rehabilitation to ensure every American’s right to sight. Visit with exhibitors for hands-on opportunities and information. This unprecedented event is on Sunday, March 8 at Sibley Medical Building.

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Romantics believe that the eyes are the window to your soul. However, did you know that your eye exam can be the window into your heart?

Your eyes mirror the health of your heart and blood vessels. Celebrate American Heart Month with cardiologist Miriam Fisher, M.D., and ophthalmologist Lauren Taney, M.D., on Feb. 26 at POB’s Vision Support Lunch and Learn, held at Friendship Heights Village Center. Learn how changes in the back of the eye, or the retina, can offer information about coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetic retinopathy and other health concerns.

Remember, knowledge is power!

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A recent study from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey found that people with low vision were able to read faster using electronic tablets such as iPads of Kindles than those using traditional print sources. Participants could read 42 more words per minute on an iPad than they could in books or newspapers. People with 20/40 or worse vision in both eyes showed the greatest improvement when using a tablet.

When it comes to low vision, tablets are more helpful than print books in three key areas: brightness, contrast, and font size. iPads, Andriod tablets, Nooks, and Kindle Fires all have backlit screens with adjustable brightness, which gives the reader more light. The extra light increases the contrast between the word on the page and the tablet’s background. E-Reader apps such as iBooks and the Kindle app also allow the reader to reverse the contrast and read white text on a black background. In addition, increasing the font size on an e-reader does not force the user to move the page around in order to see all the text, like they need to when using a CCTV. Some area libraries, such as the Montgomery County Public Library system, also have access to ebook collections, and librarians are happy to help with access.

With more and more books being released in an e-book format, and e-books being less expensive than print books in general, investing in a tablet or e-reader is becoming an increasingly useful option for people with low vision.

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Join POB on Thursday, August 22nd for the Original Pancake House’s “Dine Out Day” as it partners with POB in support of its sight-saving programs. By dining at the Originial Pancake House between 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. in Bethesda (7703 Woodmont Ave), Falls Church (7395 Lee Highway) and Rockville (12224 Rockville Pike) on this day, a percentage of proceeds go to POB in support of its programs. POB thanks The Original Pancake House for its continued generosity and support.

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