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Focus on Video Magnifiers
By Kristine Dwyer, LSW, Staff Writer

(Page 1 of 3)

Martha and Ken were married for more than 45 years when Ken began showing signs of multiple sclerosis. As the disease progressed and his caregiving needs increased, Martha found her own health status changing. She was having more difficulty breathing and she began to notice a decrease in her vision. Over the next two years, Ken became confined to a wheelchair and Martha was diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and put on daily oxygen. Her eyesight continued to deteriorate to the point of near blindness. She was no longer able to drive, read the mail, see recipes or the print on prescription bottles. Photos were blurry, bills were late and Martha was unable to manage her correspondence or even read her Bible. Her world had sharply narrowed and depression quickly set in. How was she going to safely care for Ken without her sight? There was turmoil in their lives and they were at risk of losing their independence!

A social worker was referred to Martha and Ken to make a visit and assess their current needs. The social worker then set up a home visit with a low vision specialist to meet with Martha. He was able to offer her support, education and an opportunity to try some video magnifying equipment to enhance her remaining vision. The results were astonishing! A month later, Martha revealed, with tears in her eyes, that she had been given her life back. The desktop video magnifier she purchased had allowed her to once again read the newspaper, see her mail, write out checks for their bills, understand the words on medication bottles, work puzzles, string beads for her jewelry hobby and even clearly see the photograph of her new great grandchild. She boasted how she was now able to read three hours a day and had gained a new lease on life. The positive impact on her ability to care for Ken was becoming obvious as she set up his pillbox, reviewed his medical insurance forms and then prepared his favorite dessert recipe.

Low vision can vary with each individual and may be a result of a birth defect, eye injuries, the aging process or diseases such as macular degeneration or diabetes. Age-related macular degeneration, for example, is the leading cause of central vision loss in people over age 55 and accounts for more than 45 percent of all low vision cases.

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