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CONTACT: TOM MOORE
8798 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 356-3945
e-mail: thomas-moore@uiowa.edu

Release: Sept. 12, 2000

UI center promotes awareness of low vision issues

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Center for Macular Degeneration’s Low Vision Rehabilitation program is supporting a major public health campaign to create greater awareness of how people who are blind or partially sighted can overcome vision impairment through counseling, specialized training and instruction in adaptive skills. The sixth annual campaign kicks off on National Vision Rehabilitation Day, Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Centers offering low vision rehabilitation, such as the UI Center for Macular Degeneration, are available to help people who are visually impaired, as well as their family and friends, learn more about vision rehabilitation services. Traditional products such as prescription magnifying glasses, filters to reduce glare and increase contrast, and hand or stand magnifiers can be combined with other aids such as illumination devices, audio books and bold-tipped pens to allow people to manage everyday tasks safely and independently.

More than 10 million Americans have a significant vision impairment that cannot be further improved by corrective lenses, surgery or medicine.

Mark Wilkinson, optometrist and director of low vision rehabilitation at the UI Center for Macular Degeneration said, "Low vision rehabilitation services are designed to restore safe and independent functioning to individuals diagnosed with vision impairment. Low vision rehabilitation services restore quality of life by helping individuals with a visual impairment function more efficiently for educational, vocational and avocational activities."

Barbara Silverstone, president and CEO of Lighthouse International, a worldwide leader in vision impairment and vision rehabilitation said, "We know from first-hand experience that vision rehabilitation can really help people who are blind or partially sighted to take charge of their lives. The rehabilitation process equips them with the skills and confidence they need to function independently."

The National Vision Rehabilitation Day website can be reached at: www.lighthouse.org/nvrd.html. and the UI Center for Macular Degeneration website can be reached at: www.ophth.uiowa.edu/CMD.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.