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Stanford Medical Visionary Sight Solutions

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Though Emery Olcott can no longer see words on a page or faces in front of him, he can still take pleasure in a game of golf. Legally blind, Olcott can’t drive a car, but occasionally he’ll pilot a golf cart on the course. And he can distinguish contrasts of light and color, like a small, yellow ball on an expanse of green.

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Diseases Spotlight: Raising the Bar for Healthcare Collaboration

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Diseases Spotlight is new a digital platform created with the goal of bringing together a range of voices and material that is focused on the patient perspective. This month, the spotlight is on Glaucoma. Joe was interviewed about his personal history with Glaucoma, creating Going Blind: Coming Out of the Dark About Vision Loss and the widely successful outreach campaign.

 

Rollins College to Show Going Blind for World Sight Day

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Rollins University in Florida will be using Going Blind to bring awareness to students on World Sight Day, October 8th. Grace Moskola, the Director of Disability Services at Rollins College, was using Going Blind in her previous role at the University of Central Florida and decided to bring it to the students and faculty at Rollins. “I found the documentary to be highly impactful, and I believe that it helps educate others about issues of vision loss and health in a very personal way,” Grace says. Stay tuned for updates on the impact of the screening on the student audience on World Sight Day. 

Going Blind Licensed by College Television network Peralta TV

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College television network Peralta TV has obtained screening rights to showcase Going Blind to students, teachers and community members. The Peralta network is made up of four colleges – College of Alameda, Laney College & Merritt College in Oakland and Berkeley City College, providing classes to more then 60,000 local and international students every year. The channel can be accessed on cable channel 27 in Alameda and Berkeley, and on cable channel 28 in Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont and on Alameda Power & Telecom cable in Alameda and is also on AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

For program scheduling, click here, and keep the Going Blind Facebook page for announcements on when it will air. If your college television station would like to know more about airing Going Blind, contact mike@Lovettproductions.com.

JCAHPO Webinar Series Now Online!

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In late 2013, the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel (JCAHPO) hosted a webinar series on the Going Blind and Going Forward Outreach Campaign called “Going Blind and Going Forward: Pearls and Resources for the Eye Care Team.” The series included three webinars on blind and low vision rehabilitation tools and resources. Joe presented in Part 2, Going Blind and Going Forward: A Patient’s Perspective on Vision Loss, his session brought in over 500 attendees.

JCAHPO and the Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation have now made these courses available to the general public as free resources! Click the link below to be taken to the entire 3 part webinar series and a “Focus on the Patient” guidebook, provided by Stuart Carduner at Lovett Stories and Strategies.

Going Blind and Going Forward

JCAHPO’s membership is comprised of ophthalmic allied health personnel including assistants, technicians, and medical technologists. At their 2012 annual convention, Joe provided the keynote address to a sold out audience of over 600 attendees. Since then we have developed a relationship with the organization, which is eager to train their members in patient education and empowerment.

Learning about blindness: a personal perspective by Raul Lovett

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Our eyes are truly wondrous products of evolution. Through my work at Lovett Stories + Strategies I’ve learned a great deal more about blindness and vision than I ever thought I would. It was eye-opening (no pun intended) to learn so much about blindness and low vision. For me, this experience was very personal as Joe Lovett is my great-Uncle. Joe suffers from glaucoma, which we now know is hereditary, meaning that I am at risk as well.

One of the most important concepts I was (and most others are) unaware of is that our vision exists on a spectrum, with perfect vision at one end, and complete blindness at the other. For the vast majority of people however, their vision sits somewhere along this spectrum. Especially for the “blind” the biggest misconception is that they cannot see at all; they only see total darkness, and this is not the case. Most people who are legally blind have some degree of residual vision, which might enable them to see light or shapes.

Through watching Going Blind, one of the most interesting things I learned was that our vision is 80% memory, and 20% what we see in real time. This is the main reason why so many people who have glaucoma or similar eye diseases don’t notice the holes in their vision, because their brain fills in the rest from memory. Joe experienced this firsthand, which he discusses in the film. A helpful tool called an Amsler grid is available to help one notice any holes in one’s vision between doctor’s visits. This is one reason why regular eye check-ups are necessary.

In regard to vision care and aid, I was totally unaware of the area of visual therapy called low vision therapy. Low vision refers to when one’s vision cannot be corrected to 100% even using the best corrective lenses possible. Low vision therapy utilizes aids to help people with low vision function at the highest level possible. Many tools are available, ranging from monocular telescopes to stickers with large font for one’s keyboard. While it may seem normal for me as a sighted individual to be ignorant of low vision therapy, it is fairly shocking that the vast majority of those afflicted with low vision or blindness are completely unaware of the services and aids available to them. This is an issue that Joe is attempting to ameliorate through screenings and broadcasts of Going Blind, and the outreach, Going Blind and Going Forward

I could go on and on about all of the different aspects of vision and blindness that I learned at Lovett Stories + Strategies, but there are too many to write here! Working here has truly been a learning experience, and I invite everyone reading to watch Going Blind and to get involved with the outreach.

New York State House Screening: The First Of Many

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On Tuesday April 30th Going Blind: Coming out of the Dark About Vision Loss premiered at the New York State House in Albany in room 104A of the Legislative Office Building to a room full of legislators, health professionals, advocates and staff. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee and Senator Kemp Hannon, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Healthco-hosted the event. First the audience mingled at a reception for the event and met with Joe Lovett, director of the film, and Julie Gayin, Outreach Coordinator, where they could learn more about the outreach for Going Blind and the work that has been done so far. Next Joe Lovett and Assemblyman Gottfried gave special introductions for the opening remarks.

After the audience witnessed an abridged screening of Going Blind, an expert panel discussed the film and the politics of vision care, and fielded audience questions. The panel consisted of:

Joseph Lovett: Director of Going Blind: Coming out of the Dark About Vision Loss

Pat Williams: Program Support Assistant at the NY Veteran’s Administration Medical Center and a character in Going Blind

John Farina: Assistive Technology Instructor

Leah Pagnozzi: Graduate Student and Researcher, Cornell University, Biomedical Engineering Department

Dr. Albert Morier: M.A., O.D.

Dr. Paul Beer: MD, of Retina Consultants

A live Twitter feed of the event was provided by Raul Lovett and Julie Gaynin and can be viewed at https://twitter.com/GoingBlindMovie under the date April 30

For more photographs of the event please visit the Going Blind Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GoingBlindMovie/photos_stream

A special thanks goes out to: The offices of Richard Gottfried and Kemp Hannon, and all of our panelists.

Additional thanks to: Reader’s Digest Partner’s for Sight Foundation, Pfizer Ophthalmics, Allergan Foundation, National Eye Institute, Gibney Family Foundation, Allene Reuss Memorial Trust, Bloomberg Foundation. The Frank DeCoizart Charitable Trust, The Rudin Family Foundations, The Olcott Family Foundation, American Council of the Blind of New York, Linda Dawes, Ed Harris, Chris Burke, and Nancy Miller.

NEI’s Webinar on Going Blind and Going Forward Now Available Online

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The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) of the National Eye Institute (NEI) hosted a webinar on Going Blind and Going Forward on Wednesday, September 5, 2011. Moderated by Rosemary Janiszewski of NEI, the online workshop featured Joseph Lovett, director of the film, Going Blind: Coming Out of the Dark About Vision Loss; Julie Gaynin, Outreach Coordinator for Going Blind and Going Forward; George Theriault, President of the New Hampshire Association for the Blind; and Stacy Pommer, Visual Impairment Services Team Coordinator at the Veterans Health Administration, New York Harbor Healthcare System.

Over 400 individuals registered for the event – the highest in NEHEP’s history. Participants discussed how to use Going Blind as a tool to engage the blind and visually impaired community to open the lines of communication between their eye care providers, low vision specialists, and the general public; raise awareness about low vision services and devices; and inspire the visually impaired community to obtain low vision and rehabilitation services.

A post-participation survey found that 81% of participants would likely use the film and outreach materials in their community to raise awareness of low vision services and breakdown stereotypes of those living with low vision. In particular, participants would like to use the film with:

  • Medical residents; in-service programs
  • Senior citizens; family and friends
  • Community screenings
  • Local legislators

Since the webinar, many blind service organizations and Veterans Affairs Medical Centers have hosted screenings of Going Blind followed by panel discussions and audience talk-backs, including the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government and partners and the Syracuse VAMC.

More Info

Going Blind and Going Forward webinar participants include:

Rosemary Janiszewski, M.S.
CHES Branch Chief
Office of Science Communications, Public Liaison, and Education
National Eye Institute

Joseph Lovett
Director, Producer, and Writer Going Blind Film

Julie Gaynin
Outreach Coordinator
Going Blind and Going Forward

George Theriault
President and CEO
New Hampshire Association for the Blind

Stacy Pommer
Visual Impairment Services Team Coordinator
Veterans Health Administration, New York Harbor Healthcare System

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

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It is believed that over 2.2 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, are diagnosed with glaucoma. What is more shocking though, is the fact that an estimated 4 million Americans actually have the disease but half of them simply don’t know it yet.

Though it is a disease that deserves our attention all year long, several eye care organizations dedicate extra effort to raising awareness about glaucoma each January at the start of the New Year. The National Eye Health Education Program(NEHEP) and the Glaucoma Research Foundation both offer an abundance of free information for you to utilize yourself as well as distribute to others in your community to help spread the word. This disease can affect anyone so it is crucial that everyone be informed.

Glaucoma research and awareness is especially important to Going Blind director Joe Lovett because he has been receiving treatment to combat his own declining vision for the past twenty years due to this disease.

What is Glaucoma?

The National Eye Institute explains, “Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the optic nerve in the eye. Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common form. In this condition, fluid builds up in the front chamber of the eye, and the optic nerve is damaged by the resulting increase in eye pressure. Left untreated, glaucoma can lead to serious vision loss or blindness.”

Glaucoma is often called the thief in the night. There are no symptoms or early warning signs because it typically begins with peripheral side vision loss and thus you don’t notice diminished vision. Once vision is lost, it is lost for good.

With regular comprehensive eye exams, early detection, and new treatments, vision loss due to glaucoma can be dramatically slowed down and prevented. This makes awareness about the disease so incredibly important.

Please spend a few moments this month taking a look at some of these resources compiled here below.

Learn & Share This Month

  • Are You At Increased Risk? It is important for everyone to monitor their vision, but it is particularly important to make sure those with increased risk for glaucoma are well monitored: These include people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent, people over 60, who have diabetes, family members of those already diagnosed, and people who are severely nearsighted.
  • Free Educational Booklet: Request a free booklet from the Glaucoma Research Foundation and register to receive their free newsletter mailed 3 times/year.
  • Glaucoma Education Website: A great, easy to navigate, comprehensive website with information about glaucoma, FAQs, facts, tips and questions to ask your doctor, and many other resources.
  • Keep Vision in Your Future – Glaucoma Toolkit: After informing yourself on the above website, download this toolkit with helpful information and resource materials to use as teaching tools and distribution material to educate others in your community.
  • Don’t Lose Sight of Glaucoma Brochure: NEHEP will send you free copies of this brochure to distribute to anyone who is at risk for glaucoma to help inform them about what they can do to prevent vision loss. Place in waiting rooms, senior centers, local libraries or health fairs in your community.
  • Send E-Cards: This is a great way to send family or friends a link to the information provided on the Glaucoma Education website to remind them they should be thinking about this disease.
  • Medicare Benefits Card: Inform others about the glaucoma and diabetic eye disease benefit under Medicare with free copies of this card you can place around your community. Developed by the National Eye Institute with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, it contains helpful information about benefit eligibility.
  • The American Optometric Association: Provides additional information about Glaucoma Awareness Month and specifically addresses Medicare eligible patients providing them with a free hotline for information about finding eye care professionals.
  • Glaucoma Eye Exam in 2012: EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology offers free glaucoma eye exams for those who are uninsured and at increased risk for glaucoma. Find out about eligibility.

Additional Links:

For World Sight Day: Where are they now?

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After filming ended for Going Blind, the lives of our main characters changed in many profound ways. We’d like to share with you, the audience, how the compelling stories of these characters did not end when principal shooting did.

After leaving Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center in 2008, Steve Baskis became involved with the United States Association for Blind Athletes (USABA). This partnership led him to Paralympic training facilities across the country to help prepare for the 2012 Paralympic Games. Steve has climbed mountains and competed in races all over the globe. In July 2011 Steve visited Tanzania as a part of a service project to provide medical aid to blind albino Africans. Steve is pursuing a career in public speaking in order to share his story with the general public.

In the last year Jessica Jones suffered two difficult setbacks. Her beloved guide dog, Chef, died of a brain tumor and she was severely affected by complications from an ankle fracture. However, never one to be easily discouraged, Jessica persevered. She is now back to work at the Lavelle School, fully healed, accompanied by her new guide dog, Willie. She also started a website that includes a digital portfolio of her work with students.

Emmet Teran is a sophomore at Loyola High School in Manhattan. Coping with albinism, Emmet plans to get involved in blogging with fellow teens through a support group called, “Positive Exposure.” Just like we saw in the film, Emmet is still doing stand up comedy and still loving it.

Pat Williams has not let her disability get her down and has enjoyed her life since we last met with her. Pat still works at the Veterans Administration and is poised to celebrate her 30th anniversary at the New York Harbor Health Care System.

When Ray Kornman was interviewed in Going Blind, he worked as an outreach coordinator at the Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey. He is no longer at the Seeing Eye and plans to continue his work in the vision services field. Ray still lives in New Jersey and is looking forward to what the future holds.

Peter D’Elia lives in New Jersey with his wife Peggy. They are both enjoying their retirement. They are traveling around the world like never before having recently visited France.