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CONTACT: TOM MOORE
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8788 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 356-3945
e-mail: thomas-moore@uiowa.edu

Release: Oct. 4, 2002

UI low vision specialists to highlight rehabilitation service

The Low Vision Rehabilitation Service of the University of Iowa Center for Macular Degeneration will join hundreds of other organizations nationwide in calling for improved Medicare coverage for patients with low vision during the eighth annual celebration of National Vision Rehabilitation Day (NVRD) Thursday, Oct. 10.

Created to raise public awareness about how people who are blind or partially sighted can overcome the challenges of vision impairment through vision rehabilitation, NVRD is hosted by Lighthouse International in New York.

Supporters are issuing a call-to-action to support the Medicare Vision Rehabilitation Services Act (S.1967/H.R.2484), landmark legislation to improve Medicare coverage for specialized services provided by vision rehabilitation professionals.

"The Medicare Vision Rehabilitation Services Act would help older Americans with vision impairment to live safely and independently, which is the spirit on which NVRD is based," said Barbara Silverstone, president and CEO of Lighthouse International. "With our rallying slogan, 'Medicare Now!' we are declaring our support of this vital legislation that will ensure access to Medicare-covered vision rehabilitation services for older adults who are blind or partially sighted, as well as standardize Medicare coverage nationwide."

The incidence of vision loss is greater than commonly recognized. According to the Lighthouse National Survey on Vision Loss (1995), one in six Americans (17 percent) age 45 and older, representing 16.5 million middle age and older adults, report some form of vision impairment even when wearing glasses or contact lenses.

"NVRD is the perfect occasion to gain an awareness that the earlier people learn about vision rehabilitation, the more options they are equipped with to improve the quality of their lives and maximize their independence," Silverstone said

Mark E. Wilkinson, an optometrist and director of the Low Vision Rehabilitation Service at UI Hospitals and Clinics, said, "Many people are told there is nothing more that can be done to enhance their vision. This may be true medically and/or surgically. However, with low vision rehabilitation services, people can learn new ways to accomplish everyday tasks, and with specialized devices, they can lead qualitatively better lives."

The National Vision Rehabilitation Day Web site is www.lighthouse.org/nvrd or you can go to the Medicare Now website at: www.medicarenow.org.

For additional information about National Vision Rehabilitation Day, contact Wilkinson at (319) 356-8301.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at www.uihealthcare.com.