The Remarkable Retina

You are invited to a world-class presentation at the community eye health event with celebrated ophthalmologist and retinal specialist, Michael M. Lai, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Lai, a physician for adult and pediatric patients at Retina Group of Washington, will explore the vital role of the retina (the light-sensitive layer of nerve tissue lining the inner eye) and why it is a most integral part of how we see – plus what to do if our retina is damaged!

Bring your questions and concerns for the open Q&A, when low vision specialist Adriana Wiseman, O.D., will join Dr. Lai.

Prior to the presentation, there will be free vision screenings beginning at 11 a.m. provided by POB.

This event is co-sponsored by The Beacon Newspapers, JCCGW, Montgomery County Health & Human Services, POB and Shady Grove Adventist Hospital.

Learn more about this event.


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If you are newly diagnosed with low vision or have been on a circuitous search for guidance about living with your “new sight,” look no further.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is the professional medical association of ophthalmologists, and its membership includes more than 90 percent of practicing ophthalmologists in the United States as well as more than 7,000 members abroad. Its mission is “to ensure that the public can obtain the best possible eye care.”

To access low vision information, visit the AAO website,, and type “low vision” in the search bar.

Note: Some of the information may be outdated because of the fast pace of technology solutions. For best results, ask your eye doctor or his or her staff for help.

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Understanding Your New Sight

You’re invited to meet Lind Stevens, OTRL, SCLV, MS, a highly accomplished occupational therapist with a specialization in low vision rehabilitation, on Sunday, May 15, at the Macular Degeneration Network meeting at Sibley Medical Building.

This program is in response to the Town Hall meeting on March 19, when countless attendees expressed a resounding need for Medicare reimbursable services to cover low vision rehabilitation.

Lind and her colleagues hold the keys to many of the concerns expressed regarding the desire to stay engaged and live a full, happy and active life. You don’t need to have macular degeneration to attend this meeting – just a desire to learn about the sight we have rather than the sight we have lost.

Learn more about this event.


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The Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington® (POB) celebrated 80 years of providing sight-saving services in the DMV area on Saturday, March 19 at the Night of Vision® gala, which was held at Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C. POB honored five community members during the evening, and raised vital funds and awareness for the organization’s local vision programs.

Andrew Adelson, M.D., a local ophthalmic surgeon specializing in glaucoma and cataracts, received the 2016 Professional Service Award for his outstanding work in the field of vision care. In addition, POB presented the 2016 Community Service Award to Janet and Hal Morrison for their more than 25 years working with POB and the low vision community, and presented the 2016 Appreciation Award to Amy L. Bess and Sadina Montani of Vedder Price for their pro bono legal assistance to the organization.

NBC News4 Chief Meteorologist Doug Kammerer served as master of ceremonies for the event and warmed up the crowd despite the chilly weather outside.

The event’s theme, “Beyond the See,” combined oceanic décor, a “Diving for Pearls” opportunity drawing with stunning pearl prizes, and a 200-piece silent auction featuring items such as a behind-the-scenes tour of the NBC Studios in Washington, DC with Doug Kammerer and a private, after-hours tour of the MoMA for 10. Also included in the event was a live auction featuring: tickets to Live! with Kelly and Michael; a DC date night package with a stay at the Four Seasons; and a build-your-own dream vacation package with 50,000 AAdvantage Miles from American Airlines and a $500 Marriott gift card.

Guests of the gala had the opportunity to make a $100 donation to have their name added to a tile, which will become part of a beautiful mosaic in POB’s newly built headquarters on Capitol Hill. POB is set to move into its new headquarters in the coming months. The building provides improved accessibility, room for growth, a Low Vision Learning Center, and a community lecture hall for future vision research updates, eye health seminars and low vision support group meetings.

POB (formerly D.C. Society for the Prevention of Blindness) was founded on March 10, 1936 by May B. Vories and Dr. William H. Wilmer, founder of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, as a seven-point program to bring eye health information to the Washington, D.C. community.

Today, POB is the largest local prevention of blindness agency in the United States, dedicated to the improvement and preservation of sight by providing services, education, advocacy and innovation. The organization serves the District of Columbia, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties of Maryland, and Northern Virginia. POB screens more than 8,000 children annually for vision loss and strabismus, and thousands of adults for glaucoma. The organization provides thousands of low-income and homeless community members with eyeglasses each year, and helps those with low vision retain their independence through personalized rehabilitation programs at its Low Vision Learning Center. Its Aging Eye Network, Macular Degeneration Network and Stargardt’s Network provide public programs and support groups to the community.

For more information about POB or the Night of Vision gala, visit

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The Smithsonian American Art Museum, in collaboration with POB, proudly introduces “America InSight,” a docent-led tour for visitors who are visually impaired.

Enjoy highlights of the art collection through rich verbal description and sensory discussions using printed copies of artwork and 3-D models visitors can touch and view up close. The tour is finished in time for participants to find a good seat and enjoy a live musical performance to complete the art experience.

To kick off this new program, learn from the experts of the American Art Museum by attending the Vision Support Lunch & Learn on April 21 at Friendship Heights Village Center at 12:30 p.m.

Learn more about this event.


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Eye Pain – the stabbing, throbbing, burning, gritty, sharp, aching, “something in my eye” feeling – can be very uncomfortable. Many people seek medical care when they have pain, and for good reason.

The meaning of the word pain is generally open for interpretation. Some people describe the pain as in their eyes, around their eyes, or behind their eyes. Learn about eye pain symptoms and what they could mean at the April 12 Low Vision Lunch and Learn at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Space is limited.

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Kudos to Washington National Eye Center’s (WNEC) Ophthalmology Residency Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital / MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Under the direction and with the cooperation of WNEC Executive Director Penny Helfgott, and Michael Summerfield, M.D., director of MedStar’s Ophthalmology Residency program, first-year residents have become an integral part of the Low Vision Group that meets at the eye clinic monthly.

Thanks to WNEC for helping ensure that the practice of low vision support and referrals for vision rehabilitation become a part of ophthalmology’s commitment to continuum of care. For more information about this program, call 202-877-5329.

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Some experts have likened the initial reactions to irreversible vision loss to the “stages of grief,” as defined by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, after the loss of a loved one – taking one from denial to anger and depression, and finally, to acceptance. Navigating the various stages successfully begins with understanding how they affect you and those around you.

To help with this process, the Macular Degeneration Network meeting on Sunday, April 10 will host well-known coping-with-vision-loss advocate Gail Snider, M.A. Snider has mentored many hundreds of people during her long career in the field of vision impairment. Come share her professional perspectives and personal journey.

Until then, POB reminds you that you are not alone, and you can continue to live a full, rewarding life.

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome.” – Booker T. Washington

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Overcoming barriers to vision rehabilitation

No matter your age, assure your path to independence at POB’s premiere Low Vision Town Hall Meeting on Saturday, March 19. The goal of this event is to serve as a springboard for advancing your access to comprehensive low vision rehabilitation and technology. Be a part of the solution.

Keynote speaker Suleiman Alibhai, O.D., director of POB’s Low Vision Learning Center, will be joined by Ashley Deemer, O.D., Low Vision Rehabilitation Fellow at Wilmer Eye Institute / Low Vision Service and Michael Summerfield, M.D., director of MedStar’s Ophthalmology Residency program.

Doors open at 9:30 a.m. for coffee and exhibits. This free event is a partnership of POB with Sibley Senior Association and the Village of Friendship Heights.

Learn more about this event

What is a town hall meeting?

A town hall meeting is exactly what it sounds like: members of a community coming together to discuss an issue or issues of common concern. Most town hall meetings are open to the public and encourage participation from the audience. The primary purpose of a town hall meeting is to provide information to the community and collect feedback. This format is well suited to raise awareness of an issue.

Background information

In preparation for the town hall meeting, it may be useful to be reminded or become aware of the following information provided by the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) at NEI.

Did you know that 4.2 million Americans are visually impaired, and of these, 3 million have low vision? By the year 2030, when the last baby boomers turn 65, the number of Americans who have visual impairment is projected to reach 7.2 million, with 5 million having low vision. These numbers will further strain the availability of low vision support services and are the root cause of a looming public health crisis.

So what is low vision and what are its causes? Low vision is a visual impairment that cannot be corrected by standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, medicine or surgery. Activities like reading, shopping, cooking, writing, watching TV, or driving may be hard to do. Low vision is usually caused by eye diseases or other health conditions. Eye injuries or birth defects can also be the cause. Whatever the cause, lost vision often cannot be restored. It can, however, be managed with proper treatment and vision rehabilitation.

What is vision rehabilitation? Vision rehabilitation helps people adapt to vision loss and maintain their current lifestyle. A vision rehabilitation program begins with a comprehensive low vision exam performed by a specially trained ophthalmologist or optometrist. Additionally, vision rehabilitation offers a wide range of services, including training in the use of magnifiers and other adaptive devices, ways to complete daily living skills safely and independently, guidance on modifying residences, and information on where to locate resources and support. Vision rehabilitation brings help and hope to people with vision loss.

Premiere Low Vision Town Hall Meeting 2016


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Make a New Year’s resolution to find out if you do.

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month! As you plan for a healthier 2016, why not add this sight-saving exercise to your list of resolutions: Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam. It’s the only way to find out for sure whether you have glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness in America.

An eye disease that can rob you of your vision, glaucoma often comes with no early warning. No pain. No discomfort. No blurry vision. Nearly 3 million people have glaucoma, yet half don’t know they have it.

Glaucoma starts with a buildup of fluid that increases the pressure in your eye and can cause damage tothe optic nerve, the bundle of nerve fibers that transfers visual images to your brain. Glaucoma first affects your peripheral, or side, vision. As the disease advances, more noticeable vision loss will occur, and if not controlled, the disease can lead to permanent vision loss and blindness.

You can take action to protect yourself from glaucoma.

“If glaucoma is detected in its early stages, pressure can be controlled through medication or surgery, and the progression of the disease can be delayed,” says Dr. Paul Sieving, director of the National Eye Institute (NEI). “Early detection by having a comprehensive dilated eye exam every one to two years is key to protecting vision, especially if you are at higher risk.”

Are you at higher risk for glaucoma? You could be if you:

- Are African American and age 40 or older

- Are over age 60, especially if you are Hispanic/Latino

- Have a family history of the disease

Everyone at higher risk should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam, which is different from the basic eye exam for glasses. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is a procedure in which an eye care professional places drops in your eyes to widen the pupil and looks at the optic nerve for signs of the disease.

This year, make a resolution for healthier vision. Make sure your eyes are healthy and you are seeing your best in 2016. Schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam and encourage your friends and loved ones to do the same.

To learn more about glaucoma, view this animated video. For tips on finding an eye care professional and for information on financial assistance, visit or call NEI at 301-496-5248.

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