Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Top Ten Low-Vision Household Gift Ideas

Top Ten Low-Vision Household Gift Ideas
Gifts that can help make daily life easier if there is someone in your life with vision challenges.

Top Ten Household Gifts for the Low Vision Household

1. Jumbo Universal Remote Control TV VCR Cable DVD Satellite: With the amount of buttons that are on remote controls these days, and the fact that every electronic gadget has its own remote - means multiple remotes and mayhem! This can cripple an individual who has deteriorating or low vision from being able to access the television completely. A large button, oversized, universal remote can remedy this problem and also has the benefit of being harder to misplace!

2. The Voice Control Talking Digital Alarm Clock There are many large display clocks and alarm clocks, but they are of little use when the buttons and actions required to program them are too small or the process to set the clock is complicated and requires good vision. Select a clock with large display, easy to program, voice controls/voice activated and audio output. Additional features include a clock that can speak the time and temperature on command or at a regular interval or serves as a nightlight.

3. Reading books doesn't have to be a thing of the past for folks with low vision. The Kindle DX Wireless Reading Device is Amazon's popular book reader on a larger scale. It has a much larger reading size (9.7" display) compared to the standard 6" Kindle display. You can also magnify the text size to make any book "large print". In addition the Kindle has text-to-speech capabilities so it can read books, publications, magazines, and even blog subscriptions out loud.

4. A Computer Display screen magnifier makes images on the computer monitor instantly larger. Also check out large print keyboards such as this Visikey Large Print Keyboard Pc Mac.

5. With the price of electronics dropping, you can now get large screen plasma and LCD TV's like this 50" Panasonic Plasma TV for around $1,000 or less! TV's can be wall-mounted so they are space-saving and you can enjoy a "front row seat" view from anywhere in the room.

6. Every year you buy a new calendar but what good is it if the boxes are too small and you cannot see the date. This Jumbo Large Print Low Vision Wall Calendar is the answer.

7. For the health conscious, a Digital Talking Bathroom Scale is a nice gift. I learned about this product by accident when visiting a friend for dinner and I stepped on their bathroom scale and announced my weight to the whole house. It wasn't funny at the time, but I made a mental note that this product could be quite useful for those with low vision.

8. For those who like to play games, consider Large Print Scrabble Tiles, Large Print Playing Cards, or Large Dice .

9. For "stocking stuffers" or small gifts, consider getting one of these Large Print Crossword Puzzle Book or Large Print Sudoku Volume 1 books.

10. I love this Talking Calculator which also has a built in alarm clock and music on it, it is perfect for home, office or travel.

These are just a few ideas for gifts for those family members and friends in your life who may have vision issues.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Choosing a Gift for the Visually Challenged Child

Choosing a Gift for the Visually Challenged Child

With the holiday season going strong, it can be hard to select gifts for children who have vision challenges. Some toys may not be appropriate for a child with low vision, may be too difficult to play with, or not hold a child's interest regardless of the age recommendation.

A few things to consider when choosing a gift for a child with vision challenges.

In the case of books

Choose books with large print and few words on a page (depending on reading level and of course vision abilities).

I recommend the Random House has a
"Step Into Reading" books. They include popular children's characters and are very inexpensive (under $5 a book). The paperback books are all labeled based on level. Step 1 books (red) all have very large print and are a good place to start. Step 2 also have large print and use of picture cues, as well as ample spacing between words.

Electronic Toys

"Noisy Toys" - or toys that make sounds, music, or read books are good choices but only with a few caveats: a volume control and an on/off switch.

For a child who enjoys music, a keyboard or microphone can be a good choice.

For a child who enjoys stories but cannot read - look for books on tape/cd or consider a reading system like the LeapFrog TAG Reading System or the Poingo Interactive Reader. My daughter who has amblyopia and low vision is having difficulty learning to read but enjoys these reading systems as well audio books.


Sensory Toys

Look for toys with interesting textures and surfaces or that provide sensory stimulation.

Toys with bright lights, bright colors, or contrasting colors (white/black) can be beneficial and enjoyed by children with moderate vision challenges and low vision. I recommend a toy that combines music, bright lights, and also has a talking clock and alarm -
Zizzle Zoundz 



Toy Resource Guides

- Toys R Us has a
Guide for Differently-Abled Children

American Foundation for the Blind maintains a categorized list of toys according to the disability.

- Bright Tots
Choosing The Right Toy for Special Needs

- Prevent Blindness America:
Help Keep the Holidays Merry and Bright by Giving Safe Toys and Gifts to Children This Year (pdf)

This article was orginally published by me at Bella Online Vision Issues site

Greeting Cards for Low Vision or Visually Impaired

Braille and Large Print Greeting Cards

The day after Thanksgiving marks open season for sending holiday greeting cards. But, what about that friend or family member of yours who may be blind, have low vision, or be dealing with deteriorating eyesight.

Consider making a card or purchasing a Large Print or Braille card.

Make your own Large Print Card
I suggest making your own large print card.

This is also a great activity for kids! You can do this using one of the many free clipart websites online or the good old-fashioned way of putting pen (or crayons & markers) to paper. Even if the card is hand-made and decorated, consider using printed text in a large easy to read block print - use a font like ARIAL or COURIER in BOLD and choose a large font size of 20 or higher.

TIP: Print in black or dark ink on white or light colored paper.

Where can I buy Braille and Large Print Greeting Cards

The good news is that you can probably find a small selection of Large Print and braille cards in your local card shop or pharmacy. The popular Hallmark brand markets everyday greeting cards in both large print and braille.

If you are looking for Braille greeting cards, you will find a large selection online. Sources for Braille Cards include Braille Enterprises, the American Printing House for the blind, and the National Braille Press. For a truly unique Braille greeting - they even sell Braille Chocolate Bars at Choco Braille.

I searched high and low to find Large Print cards and found that the nicest selection was actually at a website called Greeting Card Universe. This is a unique website where you can either order paper cards, or select a card and enter your text and the recipient's address and the website will send the card to them via the US post office. Inputting "Large Print" into their search filter yielded 24 cards including birthday, holiday, and mother's day.

This article was originally published at Bella Online: Vision Issues., by me!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Continued Improvement - a Good appointment!

Last month, we received the good news that Belle's eyesight was improving and that she was indeed using her left (amblyopic) eye again.  This was the news we needed to hear after patching diligently 6-8 hours a day and FINALLY seeing steps in the right direction.  We (the Doctor and myself) agreed that since there had been improvement we would continue with patching at the same duration of 6-8 hours per day. Belle had been hoping for a reduction and at first saw it as a punishment for her good work - but after some explaining she understood that she just needed to keep doing what she was doing and her good work would hopefully pay off bigger in the future.  This is a lot for a 5 year old to handle. But handle it, she did.

Saturday we went back to the eye doctor for our 6 week recheck. As usual, I was nervous - yet Belle was excited to go. She loves the eye doctor we go to which makes trips there so much easier. That morning  she announced that her doll Elizabeth needed get her eyes checked too. So, in the morning the two girls got dressed and off they went.  Elizabeth and her pretty purple glasses were a huge hit with all the ladies who work in the office who took turns playing with Belle and the doll until it was our turn to see the doctor.

I knew right away when Belle was reading the eye chart that we'd seen improvement.  We did have the usual 'confusion' of Cs with Os and Ds - she always says "O" for these 3 interchangeably. But aside from that she was able to read more than 1 line before announcing that "everything is too tiny".  Even when she pulled the too tiny trick, when the doctor isolated each letter instead of her viewing it in the line she was able to get it.  We've noticed this before with her - she can't seem to read the letters when they are in a line but when they are singled out she can get them. Likewise, she will often read the last letter, then the first letter and then the ones in between.  I'm not quite sure what is going on here but I'm pretty sure it has to do with "crossing the midline" issues that we are dealing with..

Still, she is using her eye and scored slightly better than at the last visit.   With that - the doctor decided that we'd take things slowly and try a small reduction in patch time.  4-5 hours instead of 6-8 hrs.  He said to really try to shoot for the 5 and we will.  So, its only a little bit less than before but to Belle this is huge.  She went home with all smiles and didn't complain about putting her patch back on before we left the office. 

We go back again in 8 weeks and pray for more good news.  She still has a long way to go, but she has come so far, already.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fun eye patches for the holidays

I thought it would be fun to showcase some of the fun patches your child can wear over the holidays. My daughter is very into decorating her own patches and coordinating her patches to outfits - it makes it a lot easier for her to wear the patch if it is something that she likes.

Did you make your own holiday patch?
Have a picture of your child patching through the holidays?
Please share by leaving a comment here or on our Facebook page.

Looking for that special patch for the holidays? Here
are a few options!

Patches worn with glasses:

Anissa's Fun Patches
- Foam patch that slides under the lens of glasses. Several patterns available featuring Santa, Candy Canes, Snowmen. [review|site]

Ortopad Frame Friends -
new for Holiday 2010! cloth patches in a wide assortment of patterns ranging from strings of lights to gingerbread cookies. Patch is worn over glasses.

Patch Pals - felt patches that slip over the frames of glasses. Offers a fall pack, winter pack, and individual holiday patches. I love the turkey! [review|site]

Pumpkin Patch Eye Works -
cloth patches made of sturdy denim fabric. I love that these can go casual or dressy. Especially like the glitter snowflake and the holiday charm one [review|site]

Adhesive Patches
Krafty Eye Patches- Holiday patch decorating kits. 3 kits available for boys/girls. Christmas, Hannukah, Winter Wonderland (Snowmen, Snowflakes, Santa, Red/Green, Blue/Silver). [review|site]

MYI Patches/Fresnel Prism -
2 styles available - gifts or snowflake in Junior or Regular sizes. [review|site]

Ortopad - One set of Holiday stickers will be included (complimentary) with each purchase of beige or white adhesive patches (limited time) [review|site]

Pirate Style Patches:

esigner Eye Patches - "Pirate" style patches. Over 50 different holiday designs available - flat, padded or convex [review|site]

Eye Patch Heaven -
Concave "Pirate" style cloth patches can be worn with or without glasses. clear elastic available. [review|site]

Don't forget these fun "add-ons"!

Eye Doodle Eye Patch Stickers - add these stickers to your eye patches - they work on adhesive or cloth patches. Choose from Left or Right Eye. [review|site]

- fun charms for glasses! kids love to wear their glasses when they can add charms for any o
ccasion. They offer a few holiday styles too. Great stocking stuffer! [review|site]

Did you make your own holiday patch?

Have a picture of your child patching through the holidays?
Please share by leaving a comment here or on our Facebook page.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Push-Pull Eye Exercises could aid Amblyopia treatment

It absolutely doesn't surprise me to read that exercises intended to improve depth perception and decrease imbalances between vision strength could also be beneficial as amblyopia treatment.

Eye Exercises Might Boost Fine Depth Perception

Push-pull training method could also be used for 'lazy eye,' researchers say

....This method -- which involves making the weaker eye work while the stronger eye is suppressed -- could be especially important for people who depend on fine depth perception for their work, such as dentists, surgeons, machinists and athletes.

It's also likely that the method can be adapted for treating children with amblyopia (also known as lazy eye), which affects 2 to 3 percent of children in the United States, said the authors of the study published in the Oct. 14 online edition of the journal Current Biology....

Read full article at: http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=644235

EyeMario Video Game being adapted to treat Amblyopia (lazy eye)

Recently we read about a boy who played Mario Kart and reversed his Amblyopia. And now, we have EyeMario.

On Wednedsay, November 3rd, 2010:

PORTLAND, Ore. —Waterloo Labs, a team of engineers inside National Instruments Corp. (NI), Wednesday (Nov. 3) unveiled the LabView source code to "EyeMario," which demonstrates how video gamers can use their eyes to control Nintendo gaming consoles.

Marrying NI software with electrically isolated data converters from Analog Devices Inc. (ADI), enabled the EyeMario reference design, which NI is making available as a free download. Besides gaming, EyeMario will also being adapted to use in the treatment for amblyopia (lazy eye) as well as to empower people who have lost the use of their hands.

See it in Action on YouTube
From: WaterlooLabs

In this episode we show off our Eye Mario system that allows you to play any NES video game just using your eye movements. In this video we give you a basic overview of how this system works.

Amblyopia - Studies show a supplement helps

I've been hearing a lot lately about alternative treatment for amblyopia including nutritional supplements. So, I did a bit of googling and thought I'd share what I found on the topic. I would love to hear from parents who are using CDP-Choline or vision professionals.

Study: Effect of oral CDP-choline on visual function in young amblyopic patients.


RESULTS: The addition of CDP-choline to patching therapy was not found to be more effective than patching alone after 30-day treatment. The present results showed that adding CDP-choline to patching stabilised the effects obtained during the treatment period. In fact, whereas the participants treated only with patching showed a decrease in visual acuity at 90 days, these receiving CDP-choline and patching combined appeared to maintain the results obtained (two-way ANOVA: P = 0.0042). Similar results were obtained when measuring visual acuity by isolated Snellen's E letters.

CONCLUSIONS: In amblyopic patients, CDP-choline combined with patching contributes to obtaining more stable effects than patching alone.

From Vision International: http://www.visionsinternational.net/eye-vision/how-to-treat-amblyopia-2/

Concerning the supplement for amblyopia, CDP-choline has been proved effective in treating conventional amblyopia by two scientific studies. The scientific name of CDP-choline is cytidine-5′-diphosphocholine, which is an important component of cell membranes all over our body and has the role of keep our body form and function well. An Italian study has proved CDP-choline enables people with amblyopia to have shorter time to improve their vision. According to the research, with 500 milligrams of CDP-choline everyday, children at the age of 5 to 9 can improve their vision in 10 days, while it takes 1 month for children to improve their vision by wearing eye patch.

But this does not mean CDP-choline is perfect for everyone with amblyopia. As a matter of fact, CDP-choline is similar to soy lecithin. If children are unluckily allergic to soy, it is often the case that they may be also allergic to CDP-choline. Besides, though it is effective to treat amblyopia, this does not mean people can take as much as possible. Researches show if CDP-choline is taken too much, it will result in gas and diarrhea.

NEW Holiday Patch Kits - Krafty Eye Patch 15% off Coupon Code

Sharing another eye patch coupon code in my inbox today for Krafty Eye Patches.

They now have new Holiday patch kits with snowflakes, snowmen, and other festive holiday fun! There are 3 kits to choose from (Christmas, Winter Wonderland, and Jingle Bells).

Use code: Holiday15 15% off ALL patches

And since the holidays can be crazy... stock up now on patches, one less thing to think about!

More Codes for "Stocking Up on patches"
Take 15% off on orders $50 or more. Use Code Patch15
Take 20% off on orders $100 or more Use Code Krafty20


If you haven't tried Krafty Eye Patches - check out our review of these fun and non-toxic patches "craft kits".