Two Million Floridians are Living with Low Vision

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“If I hadn’t come to the Lighthouse, I wouldn’t be living alone in my condo. I like my independence.” Marion, age 90.

Two Million Floridians are Living with Low Vision.  Families, eye care professionals, policy-makers, and legislators all are challenged by this overwhelming fact.  Florida ASB is doing the best we can, but WE MUST START A CONVERSATION on how to help 2,000,000 people to regain productive lives, contribute to the well-being of their families, and remain safe and healthy in their own homes.

  • Florida leads the nation in numbers of blind persons and growth of this population. Florida has 21 million residents (Census as of July, 2016) of which 19.4% are 65 years old or older.  Applying Florida’s population to findings from a nine-year longitudinal study of Medicare recipients performed by Duke University (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12963614), the number of severely visually impaired Florida seniors is currently in the range of 2 million older individuals.  An annual census performed by the American Printing House for the Blind yields a total of 3,000 severely visually impaired children in public schools.

In addition to the already high incidence of blindness, the rate of growth is alarming

  • As diabetes becomes ever more common, adults are being affected with diabetic retinopathy which causes blindness; other major causes of adult vision loss are glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and cataracts. At the other end of the generational spectrum, a steady 6% of premature babies have an associated vision impairment in addition to other handicaps.

ASB member agencies provide Vision Rehabilitation services delivered by a team of university trained blindness rehabilitation professionals. 

  • These nationally certified experts include Orientation & Mobility Specialists (to teach safe travel using a white cane or dog guide), Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (to teach daily living skills), Low Vision Therapists (to teach use of remaining vision as aided by magnification devices and techniques) and Assistive Technology Specialists to teach computers and technology. In addition ASB members employ state credentialed Teachers of the Visually Impaired for the babies and children, and social workers/case managers to help clients and family members adjust emotionally to the many changes vision impairment brings to their lives.

Research shows that losing 90% of acuity or field of vision has an enormous impact on a person’s ability to earn a living, manage family responsibilities, handle finances and medications and a myriad of daily personal needs.   

  • A recent revision of the Standard of Care by the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends Vision Rehabilitation intervention much earlier than that degree of loss in order to minimize or even avoid job loss and disruption of quality of life.

Vision Rehabilitation as provided by ASB members is known to result in success in school and work, fewer nursing home admissions, improved health, and a reduction in depression.  

Find a local ASB agency near you:  https://beyondvisionloss.org/florida-agencies-serving-the-blind-locations/

Refer your patient or client to a local ASB agency:  https://beyondvisionloss.org/eye-care-professional-request-account/

 

ASB’s Mission:  To serve as a united voice and be the organizational support empowering private agencies serving Floridians with blindness and visual impairment to provide state-of-the-art professional vision rehabilitation services which enhance the quality of individual and community life.

About Florida Agencies Serving the Blind:  ASB’s eighteen member agencies, most of whom include “Lighthouse” as part of their names, are the independent non-profit providers of specialized Vision Rehabilitation and Education for persons of all ages who are blind or visually impaired.  Their local service areas (some agencies serve just one county and others have multiple counties), combine to provide full coverage for all 67 Florida counties, with over 2 million severely visually impaired residents, including 2000 children between birth and age 21.  The member agencies each have one voting member –the executive director or CEO–on the ASB board.  The member agencies all have their separate governing boards, charters and mission statements.