October is Awareness Month for the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired South Carolina (ABVI). In honor of World Sight Day (October 8th), our 84th Birthday (October 14th) and White Cane Day (October 15th), ABVI is celebrating all month by bringing awareness to the more than 15,000 adults with visual disabilities living in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester Counties.

Adaptive Strategies: Dental Hygiene

As part of ABVI Awareness Month, we are introducing techniques that our clients use to navigate everyday life safely, confidently and independently. Dental hygiene routines can seem like second nature to us. Imagine, however, trying to brush or floss your teeth without the use of sight. Adults who are blind or visually impaired must learn adaptive strategies to perform daily routines. In Activities of Daily living, clients might learn to pull dental floss from the container in their palm to the tip of their elbow to ensure they are using the appropriate length of floss, or to use a dental floss stick for added control and easier access. Clients also learn alternative ways to apply toothpaste. In this video, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist and Low Vision Therapist Samantha McGovern describes an adaptive strategy for using toothpaste that allows our clients to independently perform their daily dental hygiene routines.

 

Glaucoma

Each week, we are introducing you to an ABVI client and the visual impairment or progressive condition he or she is affected by. This week we are spotlighting Alvin who suffers from glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease resulting in permanent damage to the optic nerve. There are many different types of glaucoma, and the most common is open-angle glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is caused by elevated pressure in the eye which damages the optic nerve by decreasing blood flow to the area. Unfortunately, there are no detectable symptoms in the early stages of open-angle glaucoma, and even though your peripheral vision is slowly deteriorating, you may not suffer noticeable vision loss for many years. By the time you recognize the effects of the damage such as severely reduced peripheral vision and difficulty seeing at night, the disease is advanced and damage irreversible. It is imperative to have annual eye exams to detect diseases like glaucoma in the early stages and begin preventative treatment to protect your vision. If caught early enough, glaucoma may be treated with medicine and/or surgery, but if left untreated, it can lead to blindness.

Client Spotlight: Alvin

Alvin began losing his vision ten years ago, and while he was told during a vision screening he likely had glaucoma, he ignored the warning and did not get an eye exam to confirm the diagnosis. While driving to work one day, Alvin suddenly realized he could not read road signs nor could he see anything on his dashboard. Shaken by this experience, Alvin visited the eye doctor where his diagnosis of glaucoma was confirmed. Because his glaucoma was left untreated, Alvin’s vision loss was permanent.

Fortunately, Alvin’s eye doctor referred him to ABVI to learn the skills needed to adjust to his life with vision loss. Since becoming a client, Alvin has received a new white cane and has signed up for orientation and mobility training to learn how to safely navigate his home, neighborhood and other environments. Alvin plans to join our Assistive Technology class where he will learn how to use his phone as an adaptive tool to make daily tasks easier. The skills he is learning from ABVI all support his goal of eventually living on his own. Alvin is an avid reader, so ABVI also helped him access a free library service available to adults who are blind or visually impaired. Through this service, Alvin receives audio books and can enjoy books again, which has greatly improved his quality of life.

“[o]ne would be surprised how innovative, flexible and adaptable humans are capable of being when faced with something as terrible as losing your sight. If you have never gone through this, you can’t even begin to think about the things you will need to do and accept. I am extremely appreciative of the professionalism, caring and understanding of everyone I have interacted with at ABVI.”

- Alvin, ABVI Client

Participate in ABVI Awareness Month

Would you consider supporting Alvin on his journey to a more independent life by donating to our ABVI Awareness Month Campaign?

In celebration of our 84th birthday, we invite you to participate in ABVI Awareness Month by donating $19, $36, or $84. Of course, any amount helps as we try to reach our goal of raising $1,936 this month, in honor of the year of our inception.

If you are an annual donor, we encourage you to consider setting up a monthly recurring donation through our EyeGive Program, to increase your impact on ABVI and the clients we serve.

You can easily donate by texting “ABVI” to 44-321 or by visiting www.abvisc.org.

Thank you for helping us enrich the quality of life of adults who are blind or visually impaired in the Tri-County.