Low Vision with a Twist

As an officer for the LVR (Low Vision and Rehabilitation) Club at RSO, I am very excited to share my experience with a recent event that we held as a fundraiser. Most people have heard about “Painting with a Twist,” which involves a teacher showing you step-by-step how to finish a painting, all while indulging in a BYOB atmosphere. LVR Club wanted to do something similar, but do it with a low vision twist. This was the first time an event like this has ever been held at UIWRSO, so we were very eager to have it go off with a bang!

For our event, we had a teacher (our very own third year and LVR officer Minati Desai) show us how to paint a picture, but with the added difficulty of wearing low vision simulator glasses. Our third year class made these glasses, and they simulated all kinds of low vision diseases such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma, among others. Participants were encouraged to use the glasses and see a small glimpse into the life of someone with one of these eye diseases. I used a pair of cataract glasses and I have to admit that it got difficult when I was trying to use my central vision! Luckily, I was still able to come up with a decent painting.

One of the great things about this event is that more than just RSO students attended. Some pharmacy students from UIW attended, as well as friends of the professors here at UIWRSO. One thing that is very difficult about being an officer in a club is sometimes worrying about the turnout of events. We were very pleased that we had a full turnout with all 30 spots filled. We were also able to have wine service at the school for this specific event. The event was sponsored by Mattingly Low Vision.

Everyone at the event really enjoyed it. Many people told me it was one of the best events we’ve ever had at RSO, which myself and the other officers of the club are very proud of. We were even mentioned in the UIW newsletter! I hope that this event continues next year and even after we graduate. I think it is a great way to educate students who have no prior exposure to low vision and also people who aren’t involved in optometry. I am very proud of what our club has done this year, so what a great event to finish off my third year of optometry school!

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LVR Club Celebrates Valentine’s Day

I am a firm believer that students that enroll in an optometry program should also be active outside the classroom. I am lucky enough to be an officer for our school’s Low Vision and Rehabilitation (LVR) club. Every month I send out information about low vision diseases and our role, as optometrists, in treatment and management of the diseases. We also host many events, including trips to the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind, 5k walks, etc. This month, in honor of Low Vision Awareness Month, LVR Club decided to help out our library in making Valentine’s Day Cards for employees of the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind.

At the beginning of the meeting, our club’s president, Candice Jones, explained the upcoming events that LVR will have. This includes (and make sure you watch out for the blogs about these!): Volunteer events such as vision screenings, San Antonio Low Vision Club monthly meetings, Low Vision Expo, as well as “Low Vision with a Twist.” Coordinating events such as these is a great way to network and learn a lot more about optometry, even outside of school. Food for this meeting was graciously donated by one of the RSO faculty, Dr. Matt Valdes.

Then the fun making the Valentine’s Day cards began! Because many of the employees of the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind are visually impaired, students, faculty, and staff used tactile stickers, glitter glue, beads, felt, and dark markers so it is easier for them to read the cards once they receive them. You don’t really know how much you take for granted until you realize little things like this: that people need things like tactile words/stickers in order to “see” what you wrote. It was very humbling.

During the meeting, we were able to make a lot of cards! Our school library is actually keeping the card station open so that all students can get involved whenever they have time. I am excited to hear about these employees opening their cards. I hope that reading something like this will brighten their day, even if it is just a little bit. I am grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life, and I wouldn’t have known about it unless I joined UIWRSO’s LVR Club!

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The San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind Partnership with UIWRSO

As a fourth year intern, students at UIWRSO get the chance to have their low vision rotation through the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind (SALB). The organization has been around for more than 80 years in the city of San Antonio, and has spread to many other cities, not only in Texas, but also to New Mexico and Oklahoma. I attended a Low Vision Club meeting where the SALB was able to show the students some of the various services they provide to the blind and visually impaired, so that before we go to our rotation, we have a good idea of all the incredible things the organization does.

UIWRSO students get very familiar with the SALB’s Low Vision Clinic, which has seven state-of-the-art exam lanes. The speakers explained that the eye exams actually used to take place in a much smaller location, which is now part of the Lighthouse Rehabilitation Center for the blind or visually impaired, where they learn to live independently and do daily chores and tasks on their own. Not only do they provide these services, but they also help in teaching people new skills or help in assisting them in continuing their work (with or without the use of visual aids), so that they can become successfully employed.

The SALB is unique in that it employs close to 425 people, which nearly half of whom are blind. The products that these employees make are distributed and sold in over 14 stores throughout a few states. Employees get competitive pay, and also medical and retirement benefits. They manufacture various supplies, including those for offices, as well as those for the military. The speakers showed us some of these supplies, and the craftsmanship on the products was impeccable.

The organization also has a shop for the blind here in San Antonio. They are able to purchase products such as braille materials, large print items, canes, magnifiers, etc. They showed us some of the items that the blind or visually impaired can buy. One of the most interesting products was a little remote-control looking item. The speakers explained that the blind and visually impaired need help in determining colors for the clothes they wear, which is something I think people take advantage of everyday. The remote control is pressed up against the clothing in question. You push a button and the device tells you what color the clothing is!

Not only does the organization have all of these great programs and devices, but they also have the Blind Children’s Education Program, which is the only one of its kind in Texas. It helps children from birth to the age of 14 with the use of enrichment programs and several activities throughout the year. One of the speakers explained how their annual Easter egg hunt is a huge success and is getting bigger each year. They told us a story of how one mother of a visually impaired child had “never seen her child happier” than when they found one of the eggs during the Easter egg hunt this past year.

Learning more about the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind made me realize the importance that UIWRSO plays in the community. The San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind is doing amazing things in our city, and it’s great to know that we can have a small part in their mission to improve and empower the lives of the blind and visually impaired.SALB SALB 2 SALB 3 SALB 4 SALB 5 SALB 6 SALB 7 SALB 8 SALB 9 SALB 10 SALB 11 SALB 12 SALB 13

Low Vision Expo

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This is my second year volunteering at the Low Vision Expo.

The volunteers consist of high school students, RSO Low Vision Club members and San Antonio Lighthouse of the Blind members. I really enjoy the Low Vision Expo because you can find the latest in low vision aids magnifiers, closed circuit TV’s, computers and other items. I had a lot of fun learning how to use these gadgets.

Also there are community agency representatives who will answer questions concerning their services and products. When I had some free time, I found myself talking to the representatives; it was a great learning experience because I learned more about the needs of low vision patients outside the exam room. For example, there are companies that can come into your home and make it low vision friendly. There was also a free booklet compiled with Low Vision resources. Flipping through the pages, I’m glad to know that San Antonio is a Low Vision friendly place.

There were many vendors including our school: San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind, Christal Vision, DARS (Division for Blind Services), Guide Dogs of Texas, HIMS Inc., San Antonio Eye Bank, Santa Rosa Low Vision Clinic, Texas Talking Book Program, Lions Low Vision Center, UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry, Via Metropolitan Transit with Buster their mascot, Low Vision Resource Center (Low Vision Club) and (Owl Radio) with Owl mascot and more community agencies.

 

For more information about Low Vision: 
 (210)829-4223, 
 email lowvisionresourcecenter@yahoo.com
 visit www.lowvisionclub.org

Lighting the Way 5K/10K Race

The Low Vision and Rehabilitation Club at RSO formed a team of 60 participants to walk/run in the 4th Annual Weston Wright Lighting the Way 5K/10K Race on September 29.  Although it was storming the previous night, many students, faculty, and staff members still braved the weather and were present in the early morning for the race.

It was a very fun event.  We were able to raise over $900 for the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind, and there were many team members that were top winners in each age category and overall.