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With September being Healthy Aging Month, it is interesting to note that research continues to look and find causes of different causes of vision loss and blindness. A new study has shown how changes in a particular gene can lead to blindness in middle age. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland have discovered how changes in a gene known as RPGR damages eye cells to cause a disorder known as X-linked retinitis pigmentosa. The condition is incurable and affects night and peripheral vision before gradually causing blindness in middle age.
Although there is no current treatment for this disease or the more common Retinitis Pigmentosa, some research shows that taking certain vitamins, including vitamin A palmitate, may help some people with retinitis pigmentosa. As Retinitis Pigmentosa is passed down genetically, anyone with Retinitis Pigmentosa and planning to have children may want to speak with a genetic counselor to learn about their chance of passing this eye condition on to their children.
Hopefully more discoveries through research such as the latest gene discovery will lead to treatment of these and other eye conditions. If you or someone you love is losing vision due to an eye disease, please visit your Ophthalmologist and www.slsbvi.org.
Dave Ekin, President
Keeping abreast of new technologies is important for us in order to provide the best services and opportunities for those we serve. In this context we are honored to become one of the few direct distributors in the country of the OrCam, an eyeglass mounted optical character recognition (OCR) that reads print and converts it into speech, allowing a person with limited, or no, vision to read printed material and gain other information. The newest Orcam also allows for facial recognition (so one may know who is in the room), object identification, currency reading, color description and bar code reader.
The only option for local residents who might want the device was to travel to Chicago for training, which can now be done here in St. Louis, through the Society. The story of two individuals, one totally blind and one with low vision, who went to Chicago to get the device and training says it all. As Mark said ““I am thrilled to be able to go to the mailbox, retrieve our mail and then be able to sort and read it independently. It is something I have truly missed”. Or as Robyn said “One truly defining moment for me that changed my life forever was just being able to walk into a bookstore, pull a book off a shelf and sit down and start reading. It is something I had not done since I was a teenager”.
If you would like more information on the OrCam, please give us a call and speak with one of our Social Workers.