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Mental Health and Your Vision

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the USA; in Canada, Mental Health week is May 6th to 12th. Since 1949, it has been observed throughout the United States as a way of drawing attention to the importance of proper mental health. This year’s theme is #4Mind4Body. The idea is that using elements around us, such as the people in our lives, faith, nature, and even pets, can strengthen wellness and overall mental health.

Did you know that your vision can affect your mental health? While things like stress, trauma, and family history are factors that impact mental health, vision can also impact it.

How Does Vision Affect Mental Health?

Certain types of eye diseases and visual impairments can lead to emotional problems like anxiety and depression. This is particularly common in cases of severe vision loss. Patients with glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy, for example, can experience mild to acute vision loss. This can make everyday activities like driving, running errands, watching TV, using a computer, or cooking, a difficult and painful experience. When this happens, it can cause a loss of independence, potentially leaving the person mentally and emotionally devastated.

Like most surgical procedures, LASIK corrective surgery is permanent and irreversible. Although it has very high success rates, LASIK has been considered the cause of depression and mental health issues in a few instances.

Kids’ Vision and Mental Health

Increased screen time among school-age children and teens has been shown to reduce emotional stability and cause repeated distractions and difficulty completing tasks, while also increasing the likelihood of developing nearsightedness.

Kids with visual problems often experience difficulty in school. If they can’t see the board clearly or constantly struggle with homework due to poor vision, they may act out their frustration or have trouble getting along with their peers.

Coping with Vision Problems

One of the most important ways to cope with visual problems is awareness. Simply paying attention to the signs and symptoms — whether the patient is an adult or a child — is a crucial first step. 

Family members, close friends, colleagues, parents, and teachers can all play an important role in detecting emotional suffering in those with visual difficulties. Pay attention to signs of changes in behavior, such as a loss of appetite, persistent exhaustion, or decreased interest in favorite activities.

Thankfully, many common vision problems are treatable. Things like double vision, hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), amblyopia (lazy eye), and post-concussion vision difficulties can be managed. Vision correction devices, therapeutic lenses, visual exercises, or special prism glasses may help provide the visual clarity you need. Your primary eye doctor can help and a vision therapist or low vision expert may make a significant impact on your quality of life.

How You Can Help

There are some things you can do on your own to raise awareness about good mental health:

Speak Up

Often, just talking about mental health struggles can be incredibly empowering. Ask for help from family and friends or find a local support group. Be open and honest about what you’re going through and talk with others who are going through the same thing. Remember: you’re not alone.

If you experience any type of sudden changes to your vision — even if it’s temporary — talk to your eye doctor. A delay in treatment may have more serious consequences, so speak up and don’t wait.

Get Social

Developing healthy personal relationships improves mental health. People with strong social connections are less likely to experience severe depression and may even live longer. Go out with friends, join a club, or consider volunteering.

Have an Animal

Having a pet has been shown to boost mental health and help combat feelings of loneliness. Guide dogs can be especially beneficial for people suffering from vision loss.

Use Visual Aids

If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health issues caused by vision loss, visual aids can help. Devices like magnifiers or telescopic lenses can enlarge text, images, and objects, so you can see them more clearly and in greater detail.

Kids can benefit from vision correction like glasses, contacts, or specialized lenses for more severe cases of refractive errors. Vision therapy may be an option, too. It is a customized program of exercises that can improve and strengthen visual functions.

Always talk to your eye doctor about any concerns, questions, or struggles. 

Thanks to programs like Mental Health Awareness Month, there is less of a stigma around mental health than just a few decades ago. Advancements in medical technologies and scientific research have led to innovative solutions for better vision care.

During this Mental Health Awareness Month, share your share your struggles, stories, and successes with others. Use the hashtag #Mind4Body and give your loved ones hope for a healthy and high quality of life.

 

World Braille Day 2019

Each year during the month of January we recognize World Braille Day which gives us the opportunity to take a moment and appreciate the incredible gift that Braille has given to those who are blind or suffer from vision loss. 

What is Braille?

Braille is a tactile representation of letters and numbers that can be utilized by people with vision loss to read using their fingers.  The system uses combinations of six raised dots – three rows of two – that serve to represent the numbers, letters and even symbols such as music notes. 

Braille History:

Braille was developed by a young Frenchman named Louis Braille and was first published in 1829. Braille invented the system at the age of 15 after he became blind as the result of an accident. The idea was originally based on night writing, a touch-based military code developed for Napoleon’s army by Charles Barbier as a strategy for soldiers to be able to communicate silently in the dark. Barbier’s code was ultimately rejected because it was too difficult to be used effectively by the soldiers. Barbier and Braille later met at the Royal Institute for the Blind in Paris and Braille was able to adapt the idea into a more functional system. In braille, the characters, or letters, are each represented by a cell or block with a particular arrangement of raised dots.

Not Just the ABC’s

While first developed for the French alphabet, braille has since been expanded for many languages including all the European-based languages, as well as Arabic and Asian languages. Even within those languages there are different forms of the system.  For example, in English, there is Grade 1 braille which is composed of the representation of the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet and is primarily used for those learning to read and write the language. Grade 2 on the other hand is the type of braille you are likely to see written in public places such as menus or signs as it is more complex. Grade 2 includes higher level punctuation, abbreviations and contractions. Lastly, Grade 3 is a form of shorthand designed for personal use such as taking notes or writing letters. 

In addition to the cells which represent the letters, braille may also include illustrations, graphs and symbols such as bullets or arrows. Further, a cell can also represent a number, a word or a punctuation mark. Because braille takes up more space than standard print there are many abbreviations or contractions that represent words or word sequences to save space. This also helps to improve the speed at which one can read and write using the system. 

How To Write Braille

Writing braille requires some tools. To do it by hand you need a stylus, which is a metal tool that is used to create the dots, a slate, which is a type of stencil used to align the dots into neat cells and card-stock paper which is heavy enough to emboss.  You can also write braille with a special braille typewriter or an electronic brailler as well as certain computer programs with a braille embosser printer. 

Being able to read and write braille allows those with vision impairment to learn and express themselves in a way that they would otherwise not be able to. While newer technologies such as screen readers and other computer based programs have become more common in recent years, braille is the foundation of innovation in improving the lives of the blind and vision impaired. 



Your Low Vision Optometrist in Gulfport, Mississippi

When your medical eye doctor says, “nothing more can be done,” contact a low vision optometrist. Southern Low Vision is one of over 40 optometrist practices in North America that has helped thousands of low vision patients live independently, fulfilling lives after others told them it wouldn’t be possible.
Thanks to the doctor’s knowledge, dedication, and experience, patients can do what they enjoy: drive, read, work, play, cook, or recognize people’s faces.
Call for a personal consultation and find out if you are a candidate for low vision glasses.

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Dr. Roderick D. Fields

helping you live your best life

What is a Low Vision Optometrist?

Our goal is for you to reclaim the ability to carry out tasks that are important to you. Such an activity could be driving a car, reading the paper, recognizing faces, watching TV, playing cards or board games, cooking, and anything that matters in your life.
As a member of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists (IALVS) – a network of low vision optometrists – Dr. Roderick Fields intensively studied low vision care. We are committed to maximizing our patient’s vision and help them live their best lives.

keep your eyes on the possible

Causes That Lead to Low Vision

Low vision is an eye condition that cannot be corrected with conventional eyeglasses or contact lenses. Its causes are usually due to injury, disease, or genetics and include:

Serving patients in Gulfport, Jackson, Hornlake, Meridian, Decatur and throughout Mississippi.

  • Macular Degeneration: Wet or Dry
  • Juvenile Macular Degeneration (i.e., Stargardt’s disease, Best disease, etc.)
  • Diabetic Retinopathy – a complication of diabetes affecting eyesight
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa – leads to contraction of the visual field
  • Glaucoma – damage to the optical nerve due to inner eye pressure
  • Cataracts – a clouding of the eye lens
  • Hemianopsia – the loss of part of the visual field
  • Albinism – the lack of pigments in the back of the eye
  • Other Vision-Limiting Conditions
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Genuine care and hands-on advice are our primary ingredients to ensuring complete low vision services. Talk to our low vision expert in Gulfport about your concerns, and we will help optimize your surroundings to accommodate your visual needs better. As an example, improved lighting makes a significant difference for many eye conditions.

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The advantage of glasses is that they allow you to be mobile and use your hands freely. Many patients have kept their driver's license and independence thanks to bioptic telescope glasses, E-Scoop glasses, or side-vision awareness glasses. Theater lovers can benefit from full-diameter telescope glasses to enjoy performances. Prismatic glasses are primarily used for reading.

These are only a few of the many low vision glasses available for low vision patients. Dr. Roderick Fields will help you to find the best solution for you.

Magnification is key for optimizing vision. Closed-circuit television (CCTV), video magnifiers are available as hand-held devices or as a stand-mounted version. You can install special software to enhance contrast and colors on your computer screen. Other software can increase the font size to whatever is comfortable for you.

Advanced equipment utilizes virtual reality, image processing algorithms, or audio feedback to assist with almost any task you want to accomplish. Go for it!

Southern Low Vision

1900 23rd. Ave
Gulfport, MS 39501
Call for a Low Vision Consultation 866-739-2003
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