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National Eye Institute (NEI)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 14, 2003
CONTACT:
Michael Coogan
(301) 496-5248

Downloadable photos and other materials available at the following links:

Photos of THE EYE SITE exhibit http://www.nei.nih.gov/photo/lv_exhibit/index.htm
Simulations of eye diseases http://www.nei.nih.gov/photo/sims/sims.htm.
THE EYE SITE website http://www.nei.nih.gov/nehep/eyestie/index.htm
Statistics for Washington, D.C. eye diseases – See Attachment

The Washington, DC Area Hosts
THE EYE SITE: A Traveling Exhibit on Low Vision

Do you have trouble reading books or newspapers, even with your glasses or contact lenses?

Do you have trouble recognizing the faces of friends or relatives?

Does your vision make it difficult to do things at work or at home?

If you or someone you know answers “yes” to any of these questions, low vision may be a problem.

People can do many things to make the most of their remaining vision. THE EYE SITE: A Traveling Exhibit on Low Vision for Shopping Centers will visit the following malls in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area:

April 26–May 15, 2003: Prince Georges Plaza (Hyattsville, MD)
Opening Events: Saturday, April 26, 2003, 2:00–4:00 p.m.
May 17–June 12, 2003: Springfield Mall (Springfield, VA)
June 14–July 12, 2003: Westfield Shoppingtown Montgomery (Bethesda, MD)
July 14–27, 2003: Union Station (Washington, DC)

Low vision is a visual impairment not correctable by regular eyeglasses or contact lenses, medicine, or surgery. It interferes with a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. It can result from a variety of diseases, disorders, and injuries that affect the eye. Many people with low vision have age-related macular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy. Age-related macular degeneration accounts for almost 45 percent of all cases of low vision.

The exhibit includes five kiosks with an interactive multimedia touchscreen program and panels that describe causes of low vision, warning signs, local resources, and a self-assessment. One of the kiosks features displays of devices to help people with low vision. The interactive program, which is available in English and Spanish, also features a variety of videos and ELVEE, the program’s animated guide. ELVEE is also a costume character who will make special appearances at each mall.

“For about 14 million Americans — one of every 20 — the inability to see well makes doing things difficult,” said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute. “They have trouble recognizing the faces of friends. Seeing the television and checking price tags become harder. Reading mail becomes an ordeal. Walking around the neighborhood presents a challenge. This exhibit has been developed to provide information and options for people with low vision, their families, and friends.”

A local Host Committee is sponsoring the Washington, DC, metropolitan area tour. The Committee is offering free educational activities and events at each mall.

The Host Committee includes the Prevention of Blindness Society of the Metropolitan Area, chair; the American Academy of Optometry; the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind; Howard University Hospital; the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research; Classic Residence by Hyatt, Chevy Chase; the Eye Bank Association of America; the Fairfax County Public Library, VA; Inova HealthSource; the Montgomery County Department of Recreation, MD; and The Senior Beacon.

“What can people do about their low vision? What can they do to maintain their quality of life? How can they make the most of their remaining vision? THE EYE SITE can help answer these questions,” said Michele Hartlove, executive director of the Prevention of Blindness Society of the Metropolitan Area. “It features low vision materials, provides local experts and volunteers to help answer questions, and lists low vision-related resources where people can turn for assistance.”

THE EYE SITE has a simple message: People can do something about their vision loss. People with low vision — particularly seniors — tend to live with their condition and not seek help. Many older adults feel that low vision is a part of aging they have to accept. “People should not resign themselves to the idea that nothing can be done about their low vision,” said Dr. Sieving. “Help exists. Vision rehabilitation services can teach people how to use their remaining vision more effectively. Visual and adaptive devices can help them lead independent lives.”

The exhibit was developed by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for its Low Vision Education Program. The exhibit will travel to shopping centers nationwide for the next several years.

Consumers can obtain a free booklet, What You Should Know About Low Vision or ¡Ojo con su visión! by calling toll-free 1–877–LOW VISION (1–877–569–8474).

To learn more about NEI, visit www.nei.nih.gov. To learn more about low vision, visit www.nei.nih.gov/nehep. For more information on THE EYE SITE, visit www.nei.nih.gov/nehep/eyesite.


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