Low Vision Newsletter
February 2011

Thank you for your continued interest in Lighthouse International. Based on a survey we completed last year, we have made some changes and improvements to our Low Vision Newsletter. We hope you like it.  

Feature Story

New Findings Link Glaucoma to Parkinson’s Disease

The Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) has unveiled new findings on the underlying cause of glaucoma in the publication, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Glaucoma is a disease where the optic nerve in the eye becomes damaged due to excessive fluid pressure, resulting in irreversible damage and vision loss.

The study by the GRF found new similarities between glaucoma and Parkinson’s disease. Like most neurodegenerative disorders, Parkinson’s is characterized by the aggregation of proteins. Glaucoma was also found to be characterized by the formation of protein aggregates called gamma-synuclein. This provides evidence that glaucoma acts more like a neurodegenerative disease than other eye diseases.

It has also been known that the optic nerve head is where vision most likely occurs in glaucoma. The GRF study, however, was the first to pinpoint where within the optic nerve head the blinding insult is likely to be, which could explain the pattern of blindness in glaucoma.

“Even with the most up-to-date treatments, glaucoma often results in severe visual impairment,” said Dr. Bruce Rosenthal, Chief of Low Vision Programs at Lighthouse International. “However, eye researchers have discovered a pathway that appears to play a role in protecting [and] destroying the optic nerve. The ultimate goal is to reduce and possibly eliminate the devastating effects of glaucoma by stopping the formation of harmful waste products that ultimately result in destruction of the optic nerve. These treatments, if effective, will result in a reduction of future health costs by eliminating falls in the elderly as well as increasing quality of life and independence.”

For more information on glaucoma, visit Lighthouse.org.

In The News

President Obama Signs Pedestrian Safety Act for Visually Impaired

On January 4, 2011, President Obama signed The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010. This legislation will make it safer for the visually impaired to travel by requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation to set requirements for an alert sound that allows people who are visually impaired and other pedestrians to detect a nearby electric or hybrid vehicle.

People who are blind or visually impaired are trained to listen for the sounds of vehicles in order to determine when it is safe to cross a street. Hybrid and electric cars, however, do not emit sound, making it dangerous for the visually impaired to travel safely.

“The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 addresses the growing concern caused by the rising popularity of quiet electric and hybrid cars, and creates a standard level of noise each car must emit,” said Lester Marks, Director of Government Affairs at Lighthouse International. “This legislation prevents the exacerbation of a very real problem and increases safety for people with a visual impairment.” Lighthouse International supported the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act and since its introduction, has educated members of Congress about the importance of the bill.

For more information on Lighthouse International’s advocacy efforts, visit Lighthouse.org.  

The Lighthouse Introduces Sleep Studies for the Blind

Are you blind? Do you have trouble sleeping? Are you awake at night and sleepy during the day?

Lighthouse International and Vanda Pharmaceuticals are conducting a study on sleep-wake disorders in individuals who are blind. You can help researchers understand non-24-hour sleep wake disorder by taking a brief phone survey. In addition, you will be informed of upcoming clinical studies recruiting in your area.

If you qualify for the study, you will be compensated for your time and travel. The first step is to fill out a survey.

For more information on the Lighthouse sleep study, visit Lighthouse.org.  

Lighthouse Store Product of the Month
The Lighthouse Store is your source for the latest products that can make your day-to-day life easier. Offering a vast selection of helpful, vision-friendly products, the February product of the month is a Clarity Cordless Telephone. This phone is hearing aid compatible and features up to 30 decibels of amplification in the high-frequency range.



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