In this issue:
When Mother Teresa said “I can do things you cannot. You can do things I cannot. Together, we can do great things,” she was not speaking about the federal government and community-based, academic, civic, and nonprofit organizations. However, this statement could not hold truer, especially for the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP), its Partnership network, and all the other organizations that join forces to help educate the American public about eye health.
As a federal program, NEHEP relies on its partners around the country to help expand the reach of its messaging and ensure that information is disseminated in a meaningful, tailored, and actionable way to people at higher risk for eye disease, health and community professionals, and people living with vision loss, their family, and friends.
Thank you to everyone who collaborated with us last year! NEHEP partners were instrumental in helping test pilot new resources; sharing information via social media sites, newsletters, and websites; disseminating NEHEP materials and messaging in community outreach activities; reviewing content to make sure we’re reaching the target audiences you serve in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner; and in celebrating national eye health observances, among many other activities. The year 2015 was incredibly active, and your efforts helped NEHEP reach millions of Americans with eye health information through traditional and social media alone. Collectively, we garnered an estimated 520 million media impressions. Working together, we did great things!
This year has also been off to an exciting start. Last month we celebrated Glaucoma Awareness Month and we want to thank everyone who helped share information with people at higher risk for glaucoma about steps they can take to protect their sight. This month we are observing Low Vision Awareness Month, a time to bring even greater visibility to those living with vision loss and promote how vision rehabilitation can help people maintain their independence and quality of life by maximizing the use of the vision that they do have. As a health professional, social service provider, or a community health worker, you can play a vital role in encouraging people to seek out vision rehabilitation services. Our new fact sheet, Vision Rehabilitation: Helping People with Low Vision, is a great resource to help you get started. Additionally, our Low Vision Resources At-A-Glance describes all the low vision educational resources NEHEP offers for you to use in your outreach efforts and this video explains how important it is for you to encourage patients and clients to seek out vision rehabilitation services as part of the continuum of care. We encourage you to share this video with your colleagues, residents, and students as well. If you’d like copies of this video on DVD, please contact us and we’d be happy to provide you with copies.
As always, we invite you to share with us what you are doing to raise awareness about eye health in your own community. Elevating vision health as a priority for Americans takes collaboration, idea and resource sharing, and year-round outreach efforts. Send us an email, post to our Facebook page, or submit an article for the next issue of Outlook to share your activities with NEHEP Partnership organizations and others interested in eye health education. Here’s to a great 2016!
Older Adult Volunteers: An Untapped Resource for Eye Health Education
Jullia Rosdahl, M.D., Ph.D.
Duke Eye Center
NEHEP Planning Committee Member
“I’m here because my friend has macular degeneration, and she couldn’t come. I thought I could learn something that would help her,” a gray-haired woman told me when I asked her why she came to a recent Healthy Eyes seminar. A few years ago, the Duke Eye Center started offering Healthy Eyes seminars to people in our community, providing them with information about eye health and disease. The seminars have been well-received, both by people who come and the eye care providers who have given the seminars. I expected that the people who came to these seminars would have the disease being discussed or have family members with the disease. What a pleasant surprise to have someone come just to help out a friend.
In retrospect, it shouldn’t have surprised me. Many older adults help each other with their eye care—for example, driving friends to appointments, helping to pick up medications from the pharmacy, and sharing information they have learned from their own doctors. Older adults who work as health care volunteers often perform tasks such as bringing coffee to waiting patients (a significant morale boost here at our eye center), taking blood pressure at local senior centers (like my mother-in-law, a retired nurse), and manning the information kiosk at a local hospital (like my grandmother in Arizona, a retired accountant). Research shows that these older volunteers—“retired senior volunteers,” or RSVs—derive personal benefit in the form of an increased meaning in life from these volunteer activities.i
Other recent research shows how senior volunteers are making a difference:
- Loneliness—Older people active in senior centers serve as gatekeepers for a community-based program to address loneliness and improve health in older adults in Spain.ii
- Connecting Seniors With Kids—A clinical trial is in progress to evaluate the effects on both senior volunteers and children’s academic success in a program called Experience Corps, an intervention created to address the needs of a growing population of older adults seeking meaningful and impactful post-retirement roles.iii
- Cancer Support—Trained senior volunteers provide peer counseling via the telephone for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.iv
- Hypertension—Keep on Track is a volunteer-run, community-based program in New York City that aims to lower blood pressure. Participants have their blood pressure measured and receive low-literacy patient education materials and adherence support.v
In ophthalmology, there is significant potential for senior volunteers to lend a helping hand. Many common eye diseases are more prevalent in this population—cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma, to start—so many potential volunteers already have experience with these diseases. Here are some ways senior volunteers can help:
- Keep doing what you are doing.
- Offer to drive a friend to appointments if he or she is having pupil dilation or a laser procedure.
- Offer to help put in eye drops.
- Get informed and stay informed. Read brochures; keep up with NEHEP bulletins; and check out the American Academy of Ophthalmology website, geteyesmart.org, and the websites of other eye and vision societies.
- Offer an arm. Sometimes it is hard to tell if a friend is having trouble seeing. If you think a friend looks unsteady, or may not be able to see something in the path, offer your arm to help prevent a fall. Falls prevention is especially important for older people and vision loss is a major risk factor.
- Give community presentations. NEHEP’s See Well for a Lifetime toolkit is a great resource that makes giving presentations easy and includes a PowerPoint presentation, handouts, and a feedback evaluation sheet. If an oral presentation is not your cup of tea, order or print out some of the NEHEP information sheets and bring a stack of them to your senior center or clubhouse.
- Share what you know. Tell your friends about getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam, and how important it is to wear eye protection when doing yard work or household repairs.
- Host a fundraiser for eye research. There are many wonderful organizations that help doctors care for people with eye disease and develop new treatments. Funding is needed to help doctors cure blindness around the world and help researchers look for cures and innovations in care here in the United States.
- Be an organ donor. Corneal transplants are very common. Other parts of the eye are routinely donated also, like the sclera (white part of the eye). Eyes from older deceased patients can be used for the care of patients and research. In fact, if you have an eye disease, your eyes could be used to help researchers develop cures for future patients.
- Tell your congressional representatives that eye health and eye research is important.
- Volunteer at your local eye center. Our eye center has a coffee cart, and the volunteer who works that cart is the most popular person in the building! Giving directions, helping push a wheelchair, and finding a hot drink or quiet corner are only a few ways to support eye patients.
- Let us know what you are doing. This growing population of older adults has limitless potential. Share what you are doing and the difference you are making by emailing the National Eye Health Education Program at https://nei.nih.gov/nehep/about/contact.
i Allen RS, Azuero CB, Csikai EL, Parmelee PA, Shin HJ, Kvale E, Durkin DW, Burgio LD. “It was very rewarding for me…;” senior volunteers’ experiences with implementing a reminiscence and creative activity intervention. February 11, 2015.
ii Coll-Planas L, Dell Valle Gomez G, Bonilla P, Masat T, Puig T, Monteserin R. Promoting social capital to alleviate loneliness and improve health among older people in Spain. Health & Social Care in the Community, October 1, 2015.
iii Fried LP, Carlson MC, McGill S, Seeman T, Xue QL, Frick K, Tan E, Tanner EK, Barron J, Frangakis C, Piferi R, Martinez I, Gruenewald T, Martin BK, Berry-Vaughn L, Stewart J, Dickersin K, Willging PR, Rebok GW. Experience Corps: A dual trial to promote health of older adults and children’s academic success. Contemporary Clinical Trials, September 2013. 36(1):1-13.
iv Crane-Okada R, Freeman E, Kiger H, Ross M, Elashoff D, Deacon L, Giuliano AE. Senior peer counseling by telephone for psychosocial support after breast cancer surgery: Effects at six months. Oncology Nursing Forum, January 2012. 39(1):78-89.
v Truncali A, Dumanovsky T, Stollman H, Angell SY. Keep on Track: A volunteer-run community-based intervention to lower blood pressure in older adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, June 2010. 58(6):1177-83.
Low vision is defined as a visual impairment that is not correctable by standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery and that interferes with the ability to perform everyday activities. The National Eye Institute estimates that low vision affects 3 million Americans age 40 and older. This figure is projected to reach 4.5 million by the year 2030. Most people with low vision develop it because of eye diseases and health conditions like age-related macular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma, and diabetes. But it can also be due to birth defects or eye injuries. While vision that is lost usually cannot be restored, people can learn to make the most of the vision they have.
The National Eye Health Education Program’s (NEHEP) Low Vision Education Program offers English and Spanish resources that provide people living with low vision and their loved ones with information about the benefits of vision rehabilitation and the services and devices that can help them live independently and maintain their quality of life. Our Low Vision Resources At-A-Glance describes all of our low vision resources, which can be used year-round. The following are some that you may be especially interested in using during Low Vision Awareness Month this February:
Vision Rehabilitation: Helping People with Low Vision Fact Sheet
This fact sheet for health and social service professionals describes low vision, populations at higher risk, vision rehabilitation, and resources that can be used to help inform patients and clients.
Living with Low Vision Booklet and Companion DVD
Share this booklet and companion DVD with people with vision loss and their families to help them better understand how to get help and live safely and independently. You can also link to these videos online from your website or share them on your social media outlets.
Living with Low Vision Educational Module
Use this module to conduct educational sessions in your community about low vision. You can inform others about the signs of vision loss, the benefits of vision rehabilitation services, where to get more information, questions to ask a low vision specialist, tips for managing medications, and more. The module includes a PowerPoint presentation, speaker’s guide, participant handouts, and other useful tools.
Low Vision Infographics & Infocards
NEHEP offers a variety of infographics and infocards which can be shared on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, or placed in newsletters, publications, and websites.
For more resources and ideas, visit https://nei.nih.gov/nehep/lvam.
Between 2010 and 2050, the estimated number of Americans affected by the most common eye diseases is expected to double. Because pictures speak louder than words, the National Eye Institute (NEI) created snapshots that you can use on websites and social media and in newsletters, publications, and other communication channels to show the growing prevalence of age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. An infographic showing all of these diseases is available for download, as well as individual snapshots of each disease.
If you have any questions about these snapshots, call the NEI Office of Science Communications, Public Liaison, and Education at 301–496–5248 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the NEI and NEHEP Flickr pages to find additional visuals such as scientific images, infocards, infographics, and public service announcements.
Facts about specific eye diseases, conditions, and disorders are some of the top things people look for when they visit the National Eye Institute (NEI) website. NEI’s Office of Science Communications, Public Liaison, and Education updates and adds new information frequently to make sure content reflects the current state of the science on a wide range of topics. Recently, several topics were updated and added, including:
To find additional content NEI offers on its health information pages, see our A-Z list of diseases and disorders. If you have questions about any of the content on the NEI website or about a specific disease or condition, contact an information specialist by emailing email@example.com or calling 301–496–5248.
To raise awareness about age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the Macular Degeneration Partnership (MDP) began distributing a public service announcement (PSA) in January. The 60, 30, and 20 second spots show what it is like to have macular degeneration. Seen through the eyes of a woman with AMD, the “One Focus” PSA reveals the challenges of vision loss, where “with AMD, even a walk in the park is no walk in the park.”
“In recognition of our shared commitment to patients and families, we want to offer the PSA to other NEHEP Partnership organizations for use in their own campaigns,” said MDP Executive Director Judi Delgado. “The last frame can be personalized to show your organization’s logo and contact information so local viewers can find you and the services you offer.”
The PSA was created as part of a grant from Women in Film, a nonprofit organization that promotes equal opportunity for women in global media. Dozens of film professionals dedicated their personal time to craft a polished and moving call to action.
If you are interested in branding and distributing the “One Focus” PSA for your organization, contact Judi Delgado at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888–430–9898.
This year marks the 80th year of service for the Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington (POB), founded in 1936 by May B. Vories and Dr. William H. Wilmer of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. POB is dedicated to the improvement and preservation of sight by providing services, education, advocacy, and innovation.
The organization shares National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) information and resources at as many as 10 free monthly seminars and meetings through its Aging Eye, Macular Degeneration, and Stargardt Disease networks. Seminar topics often coincide with NEHEP awareness months and incorporate NEHEP campaign messages, infocards, posters, and handouts to educate community members, particularly those at higher risk for eye health problems.
Each year, POB screens more than 8,000 children for vision loss and strabismus and thousands of adults for glaucoma. POB provides affordable eyeglasses to thousands of low-income and homeless community members. The organization also operates a Low Vision Learning Center, which provides personalized vision rehabilitation to help individuals living with low vision to retain their independence. This past September, POB held its second annual Eye Run for POB 5K and fun run, featuring a Vision Health Fair with free vision screenings, information about local resources, and eye health booths distributing NEHEP materials.
POB will celebrate the 80th anniversary of its founding on March 19, at the 2016 Night of Vision gala, where the organization will give this year’s Professional Service Award to local ophthalmologist Andrew Adelson, M.D. POB’s Board of Trustees established the Professional Service Award in 1986 to be given annually to the person who best exemplifies the spirit of POB's mission and its commitment to the community.
To learn more, contact Tina Robinette at 202–234–1010 or email@example.com.
Despite increased access to health care and medical advances, significant disparities still exist among racial and ethnic minorities. These groups disportionately have a higher prevalence and complications of diseases, such as early death and disability. They also have a higher incidence of visual impairment and blindness. Several conditions—such as diabetes, hypertension, and glaucoma—are on the rise, particularly in African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos.
The National Optometric Association (NOA) addresses the disparities encountered through its mission of “advancing the visual health of minority population.” The NOA has established the Three Silent Killers Program, in conjunction with the American Optometric Association’s Healthy Eye Healthy People program, to help achieve this mission. The program is aimed at reducing visual impairment from diabetic eye disease, hypertension, and glaucoma through education, awareness, and community outreach.
The Three Silent Killers brochure provides optometrists, patients, health professionals, and organizations with culturally appropriate and up-to-date information on diabetes, hypertension, and glaucoma. Information from affiliates and partners, such as the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) and the American Diabetes Association, is also included.
The NOA recently updated and expanded the Three Silent Killers brochure to Spanish. A Creole version is being created as well to address the visual health concerns of the growing Haitian-speaking community. Additionally, the NOA created a comprehensive Three Silent Killers presentation as part of its Speaker’s Bureau and uses it at various events, including local community visual health outreach by NOA members. Social media, like Facebook, has also been important in helping to promote awareness of the Three Silent Killers as well as NOA affiliates’ information, such as the NEHEP Diabetes and Healthy Eyes Toolkit, during observance months like Black History Month in February and National Diabetes Month in November.
These and other efforts by the NOA are crucial to reducing the impact on eye and systemic health from diabetes, hypertension, and glaucoma in minority communities, and the NOA is committed to combating the disparate impact of these conditions on racial and ethnic minority populations.
To order free copies of the NOA’sThree Silent Killers brochure, email the NOA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Prevent Blindness “GuideMe” App Available for Those Diagnosed With Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Prevent Blindness, the nation’s oldest volunteer eye health and safety organization, is offering a new free app, GuideMe, designed for those who have been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The effects of AMD may include central vision becoming blurry or wavy, or a blind spot in the center of vision. Although there are some treatments that may slow the progression, there is currently no cure for AMD.
The intent of GuideMe is to simulate as accurately as possible a post-diagnosis consultation with a doctor or therapist. It is not, however, designed as a substitute for the advice and directions of an eye care provider. Users should make no assumptions about their diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment without the awareness of their treating physician.
GuideMe works by asking a few questions about the user and the user’s AMD diagnosis. The app then uses the answers to create a customized guide with helpful information, tips, resources, and suggested steps to take to be proactive about protecting vision. The guide is compatible with a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or PC. The customized guide can be viewed online or downloaded and printed. If users receive any diagnosis changes or updates, they can return to GuideMe at any time, change their answers, and create a new customized guide.
Patient advocate and low vision educator Dan Roberts, M.M.E., assisted in the design and development of GuideMe. Roberts created and maintains the new Prevent Blindness online resource Living Well with Low Vision.
Additional resources may also be found at the Prevent Blindness AMD Learning Center. The site provides a variety of information, including AMD risk factors, treatment options, an Adult Vision Risk Assessment, and downloadable fact sheets.
To download the free GuideMe app, go to http://guideme.preventblindness.org. For more information on AMD or low vision, please call Prevent Blindness at 800–331-2020 or visit http://www.preventblindness.org/amd.
Registration Now Open for the 2016 American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.
For leaders in the vision loss field, the American Foundation for the Blind’s (AFB) Leadership Conference is an ideal time to learn from the best and brightest minds in our field, make new connections, and earn continuing education units from the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals and the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. Registration is now open for the 2016 AFB Leadership Conference, which will be held March 3–5 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott. This annual conference covers the most pressing and relevant topics in the field of blindness and brings together attendees from diverse organizations and institutions spanning the public and private sectors, including school districts, schools for the blind, Veterans Administrations, hospitals, private agencies, and universities. A special day-long session called Cerebral/Cortical Visual Impairment: A National Conversation will take place on March 3. This motivating, informative dialogue is designed to unite a core group of people who will work together to build upon prior knowledge, initiate research, and discuss best practice interventions in support of the Cerebral/Cortical Visual Impairment population.
Diabetes Information Now Available in Spanish
VisionAware, the AFB’s site for adults with vision loss, now offers its diabetes resources in Spanish. Visitors will find an introduction to diabetes, its symptoms, and treatment, along with links to rehabilitation services for those experiencing diabetes-related vision loss.
AFB’s AccessWorld App Version 2.0 Now Available
AccessWorld, the American Foundation for the Blind’s popular online magazine dedicated to technology is available on the go via the AccessWorld app. And now it’s newly improved as AccessWorld Version 2.0 and has been rewritten from the ground up to be much more responsive and includes the following features:
- Automatic updates on new issue launch
- Ability to search the full AccessWorld archive
- Enhanced table of contents with author information for each article
- Improved article sharing through e-mail and social media
- Full interface refresh, including text resizing through pinch to zoom and toolbar control
- iPad support
The new app can be downloaded for free.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of the Director has launched a Spanish-language health information website, Portal de Información de Salud de NIH. The website offers free, evidence-based health information from across NIH on topics ranging from child health to aging. This mobile-friendly site includes translations of many health articles from the NIH News in Health publication, popular for its clear and to-the-point content. The site also includes information on clinical trials from the Clinical Research Trials and You website. This new information portal features a monthly column called Ask Carla (Pregunta a Carla), designed as an opportunity for readers to learn about Spanish-language resources available from NIH.
Health literacy guidance and standards can help make your health information accessible and actionable. The Guidance and Standards section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Health Literacy website offers links to tools and references that can point you in the right direction.
For example, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recently released the second edition of Health Literacy Online: A Guide for Simplifying the User Experience. This guide addresses why and how to design health websites and other digital health information tools for all users. Imagine the impact your Web-based health information would have if you tailored it to the needs of the millions of people who don’t have strong health literacy skills or free time to study and process complex health information.
Check out the Health Literacy Online Guide and other guidance by visiting the Guidance and Standards Web page.
The holidays are over, but your New Year’s resolution to stay healthy and fit is probably still on your mind. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a sister agency to the National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health, is offering free health planners to help you reach your health goals.
A Year of Health: A Guide to a Healthy 2016 for You and Your Family has 12 months of health tips and resources on reducing back pain, keeping joints healthy, preserving bone health and much more. Choose the planners that best fit you and your community. You can download them here:
- African Americans
- American Indians/Alaska Natives/Native Hawaiians
- Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders
- Hispanics/Latinos (bilingual)
Place orders directly through the NIAMS online ordering system. To order bulk copies of more than 10 planners, visit the NIAMS National Multicultural Outreach Initiative website and click on the banner at the top of the page. Download and fill out the order form in its entirety and email your completed form to the NIAMS Clearinghouse at email@example.com.
The health planners were developed as part of the NIAMS National Multicultural Outreach Initiative. NIAMS also offers other free resources on conditions of the bones, joints, muscles, and skin. Many of these publications are available in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.
For more information, please contact the NIAMS Information Clearinghouse toll free at 877–226–4267 (TTY: 301–565–2966) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lighthouse Guild provides resources on vision impairment and rehabilitation worldwide and is dedicated to addressing the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities or chronic medical conditions. The organization also provides services in the greater New York region.
Low vision is an urgent and rising public health issue that is impacting everyone’s practice. To address the growing need for low vision education and services, Lighthouse Guild’s state-of-the-art continuing education programs are available in clinical low vision care and vision rehabilitation for new and experienced health professionals and paraprofessionals.
Lighthouse Guild offers the most extensive, multidisciplinary continuing education programs available in the low vision field. Its offerings include clinical training opportunities; self-paced, accessible online courses; and timely webinars. It has taken a fresh look at the needs of today’s professionals and revamped its offerings to present new topics in new ways so they can learn what they need when they need it.
Many of Lighthouse Guild’s programs are accredited by a wide range of organizations, including the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education, the American Occupational Therapy Association, the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals, and the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology.
Lighthouse Guild has been a longtime National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) partner organization and helps disseminate NEHEP resources and information by providing links on its website and sharing social media resources. Its Vision and Health Blog page is also a great resource where you can find NEHEP information and a range of topics from mental health to staying safe outside in winter weather if you’re visually impaired.
Visit http://www.lighthouseguild.org to learn more about Lighthouse Guild and the programs and services it offers.
The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) regularly presents at national meetings across the country. Presentations provide an opportunity to share information and publications, promote NEHEP messages and resources, and strengthen links with partnership and other intermediary organizations. A list of upcoming NEHEP presentations follows. If you plan to attend, please stop by and say, “Hello!”
- Aging in America Conference
March 20–24, 2016
- See Well and Be Well: A Surround-Sound Approach To Promoting Eye Health Among Older Adults
The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) wants to know what you think about Outlook. Let us know what you find beneficial, ideas for content you would like to see in upcoming issues, or suggestions for improvement. We’re always interested in hearing about your eye health education efforts and especially how you have used NEHEP resources and materials.
Please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!