By OLIVIA BURNS, Aging Texas Well Coordinator
February is Low Vision Awareness Month, which promotes education about the importance of eye health at all ages to prevent future vision loss. According to a report by the Aging Texas Well Advisory Committee, approximately 261,000 Texans age 65 and older experience impaired vision. Fortunately, routine checkups, early detection, and treatment of common eye conditions can help keep your eyes healthy.
There are a variety of programs available to help older adults who are at risk or have vision loss. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Blindness Education, Screening and Treatment program partners with Prevent Blindness Texas to provide free eye exams to assess the risk of vision loss and eye disease. BEST also provides financial assistance to eligible Texans with urgent medical vision needs and a referral from their ophthalmologist. Learn more, email BESTprogram@hhsc.state.tx.us.
Prevent Blindness Texas helps educate about types of vision loss, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), treatment options, low vision services and more.
“The best way to save your sight from AMD and other forms of eye disease is to get an annual eye exam from an eye health professional,” said Heather Patrick, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness Texas. “Early detection and adherence to treatment can save your sight for years to come.”
Prevent Blindness also offers “Living Well with Low Vision,” a free online library of tools to help people maintain their independence and quality of life. For more information, visit texas.preventblindness.org.
For older adults whose vision can no longer be corrected to 20/20, low vision rehabilitation services are vital to helping them live independently. Services and supports may include rehabilitation training through independent living or vocational service specialists and assistive technology, such as magnifying glasses and audio books.
Organizations can also help by making their spaces and materials more accessible by controlling lighting glare, increasing color contrast in rooms and meeting spaces, and improving font size and color contrast in printed materials. .
“Continuing to read, performing household chores, walking safely, and participating in recreational activities that involve visual tasks are imperative for independence, productivity, and life satisfaction,” said Neva Fairchild, a national specialist on aging and loss of life. vision of the American Foundation for the Blind. A visit to a low vision specialist can enable a person to use their remaining vision to its fullest potential.”
For more information on resources available for people with low vision, visit visionaware.org Y hadley.edu. To find independent living services near you, visit timetobebold.org.
In addition to the programs and services listed, your local Aging and Disability Resource Center can help you connect with services available in your community. To find your ADRC, call 855-937-2372.