News about Blindness and Vision Loss

Want to know what's going on in blindness research, adaptive technology, independent living products, or general news that can help you live independently?  We'll bring you some of the latest stories and links to information that you can use!

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Sleep patterns for people with vision loss are often interrupted due to circadian rhythm patters being thrown off due to lack of light perception.  

Today it was announced that three American scientists — Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young — have been awarded the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine, who identified the gene that controls circadian rhythms in plants, animals, and humans, which may prove to be beneficial to people with vision loss.

Personal Care Tips for people with vision loss

Sep 14, 2017
Health Products For You

Personal care and hygiene are important for self esteem and pride for most people.  But with vision loss it may not be as easy to take care of your fingernails, apply make-up, shave, or do laundry.  AFB's VisionAware has some great tips for all of these tasks and more.

The American Foundation for the Blind's (AFB) VisionAware technology review by Steve Kelley presents information on Android's newest Select to Speak feature.

Like the Speech setting in iOS, Select to Speak enables a user to use Talkback to read a selected portion of text, without turning Talkback on and changing the other gestures, so it is very convenient for users who are not routinely screen reader users.

To find and change this setting you will need to go into Accessibility settings.

The HealthWell Foundation has announced the creation of the Macular Degeneration Fund to help eligible patients with macular degeneration meet their out-of-pocket co-payments and premiums.  

Medication Safety Awareness for the Blind

Aug 25, 2017

For the more than 20 million people living with vision loss, not being able to read drug container labels and package inserts is a scary reality and a significant public health challenge. Some pharmacies provide accessible labels in audible, braille, and large print formats but few get dispensed with these labels, due to lack of awareness among consumers and pharmacies.

During the week of September 9-15, 2017, you are invited to take part in Medication Safety Awareness for the Blind Week, to help raise awareness among pharmacies and consumers about accessible prescription labels and how they help the blind and low vision safely and independently manage their medications.  Click title to read more.

Meet Chris Downey, a San Francisco architect who lost his sight in 2008 after surgery to remove a brain tumor.  Determined to move forward with the mission of getting the tools and the training to live a full and productive life, Chris discovered much about life and his surroundings that he couldn't see before he lost his vision.  In his TED Talk entitled "Design with the Blind in Mind" he compares his sighted experience with his beloved San Francisco to his unsighted experience, and determines that if cities were designed with the blind in mind, it would be a benefit for everyone.  Watch t

Beat the summer heat with a Talking Thermostat

Jul 12, 2017

The summer heat is on and if your thermostat isn't accessible, it may be difficult to get the relief you need.  There are products that are meant to help you, but will they work or not?

Even if you're not actively involved in the stock market, you probably own stocks. If you have a retirement plan at work, if you have a 401(k), or an IRA, you are probably invested in stocks, even if it's via mutual funds. At some point you will need and want to take more control over your personal investments and that's where the Robinhood app may help.


As we age, many people experience loss of hearing or vision loss related to age-related diseases.  But what happens when you are experiencing dual sensory loss - the loss of both hearing and vision.  A whole new series of challenges are presented.

AFB's VisionAware provides information for caregivers to help understand what your loved one is going through as it relates to communication, daily living skills, socialization, physical activity, independence and well being.  Seniors may experience depression, anxiety and feelings of isolation.

AFB's VisionAware announces Aira (pronounced EYE-rah), an accessible technology that matches a blind person with a trained, sighted agent that provides real-time descriptions of surroundings, buildings, people, even reading menu items and assisting in independent travel.

It combines wearable smart glasses with an embedded video camera paired with a smartphone, a portable WiFi hotspot, and connects the wearer with a network of live certified agents who describe the environment around the blind person.


So you've been noticing that your vision isn't what it used to be, so you go to the ophthalmologist and he diagnoses it as FCED, Fuch's corneal endothelial dystrophy, a very rare eye disease with no known cause, that eventually will take your sight.

If your new oven, microwave, dishwasher or washing machine is frustrating you because you can't access the flat-screen digital controls, help is on the way.

Anne DeWitte of Tangible Surface Research, LLC worked in collaboration with RIT design students and ABVI to research tactile overlays for home appliances.  Two products were a result of this research - clear tactile overlays and tactile stickers.  With these products you can identify the location AND function of a digital control on your home appliance.

The National Eye Institute of the National Institute of Health is offering these tips to living a lifestyle for health vision. 

Have a regular comprehensive dilated eye exam.

National Eye Institute - NIH

Did you know that nearly 2 million Americans suffer from Age-Related Macular Degeneration? There are currently more than 40 million people age 65 and older in the United States, and that number is expected to double by 2050. As people age, their risk increases for eye diseases and conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye, glaucoma, and low vision.

Learn more about age-related macular degeneration.

What are you doing to protect your vision?

May 5, 2017

May is Healthy Vision Month and WXXI Reachout Radio wants to remind you that keeping your vision healthy allows you to see and enjoy all that the world and your life has to offer.

Did you know that people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, cataracts or glaucoma? 

Learn more about diabetic eye disease.

Vision loss due to stroke or brain trauma

May 1, 2017

If you've had a stroke or some other brain injury, you may have noticed changes in your vision - particularly on one side or the other.  Although there are multiple possibilities, we just learned about this one - homonymous hemianopsia, which is the loss of half of the field of view on the same side in both eyes. It generally happens when the optic nerve communication to the brain is interrupted.  You can read more about this and watch a video that explains it all here.

New Health Guide

So you see something floating around in your field of vision, and the doctor refers to "Floaters."  What does he mean by this, and what does that mean for your vision?  Dr. Mrinali Patel Gupta answers this and many other questions in an article for AFB's VisionAware about Retinal detachment, floaters, Retinal tears, what you should ask, what you should do, and when it might be appropriate for surgery.


The American Foundation for the Blind's website has a section for Everyday Living.  This month, author Steven Kelley share information on how apps and accessible technology have changed what it means to read for book lovers with vision loss.  Read the full article.

One day while watching the Ellen Degeneres Show, I stumbled upon two guests which captivated me.  Bryan and Bradford Manning are brothers born with a degenerative retinal eye disease that will one day, leave them blind. 

Foundation Fighting Blindness

Experts gathered at the Foundation Fighting Blindness to discuss the current state of therapy, challenges and opportunities in the treatment of Stargardt Disease, an inherited juvenile form of macular degeneration.  The group included research experts as well as physicians and individuals versed in the pharmaceutical industry and developments.  Information was presented on drug development and clinical trials.  

Learn more here.


Have you ever wanted to check your email or surf the web on the go? MagWin USB, a truly portable screen reading option, gives you access at a hotel, public library, school, even a friends or family members computer.

MagWin is one of the only screen magnifiers that is completely portable by offering a handy USB. Now you can operate your magnifier anywhere, anytime, on any system you need when you need it with the handy USB stick. No restrictions on public computers against granting rights.

The internet changes how we Watch Television

Feb 7, 2017

The internet has totally changed how people watch television programs, and smart TVs and streaming apps are making a whole new world available for people with vision loss.

Both the Apple TV and Amazon's Fire TV are accessible and include text-to-speech to enable complete access to the menus.

Roku is rolling out an update to their software on many devices, which will include a new screen reader, called "Audio Guide."

And at the rate technology is changing, the technology and apps we know today will probably be more advanced or updated even tomorrow.

Thanks to advances in technology, people with vision loss have many more resources and options for accessing print information. 

The American Foundation for the Blind has published an article about Five Reading Apps that can make books, newspapers and other print available on many devices, including a table or smart phone.

Read the full article.

Reachout responds to Changes in the D&C

Jan 24, 2017

We were scrambling at Reachout Radio this morning when we saw this article in the D&C from the Editor & VP of News Karen Magnuson. The D&C is making several changes in the print edition, which is what we read from on Reachout Radio.

The daily Editorials have been reduced and will no longer appear in the newspaper on Mondays through Wednesdays.  Also the ROC Living section has been deleted, although the columnists and television listings will still appear in another section.

The Democrat and Chronicle for Monday, January 23rd tells the story of a program at East High School training students to screen for vision problems and help other students get free eyeglasses to improve their vision and their success in school.

Teacher Logan Newman, a former Navy optician began the career and technical education program in the 2010-2011 school year thanks to a state grant.

Read the full article here.

Tax time is right around the corner. Need help with accessibility? Check out this captioned and audio described video for information on accessible forms etc.

Hundreds of accessible federal tax forms and publications are available for download from the IRS.  You can choose from large-print, text, accessible PDFs, e-Braille, or HTML formats that are compatible when used with screen readers and refreshable Braille displays.

January is Braille Literacy Month

Jan 18, 2017

January is Braille Literacy Month. The use of braille in schools is often a topic of discussion and disagreement. There are some that believe braille is no longer needed. Others are firm believers that braille is a key tool for literacy.

12-year-old Hari Bhimaraju of Cupertino, California, has always been fascinated by science and technology, and she's putting her skills to good use by creating tools for the visually impaired.

Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic | Eau Claire

If you are dealing with Age-Related Macular Degeneration, you can help with a national research study; but time is of the essence, as there are just two more weeks to participate in this survey.

We've all heard the saying that "kids don't come with an instruction manual," and parenting isn't easy.  But what if you're a blind or visually impaired parent?  You are not alone!

Whether you are just considering having children, or if you're at one of those stages like potty training, sending them off to school, or the dreaded teenage years, The American Foundation for the Blind has resources for you.

Lots of links and resources here.