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Hospital Partners With Lions Club To Help Low-Vision Patients



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Hospital Partners With Lions Club To Help Low-Vision Patients

DANBURY — The Main Street Physical Rehabilitation Center, a division of Danbury Hospital, is partnering with the regional Lions Clubs to help people suffering from low-vision problems.

The regional Lions Clubs’ Low-Vision Program relocated its services to the Main Street Physical Rehabilitation Center so patients can work with a licensed occupational therapist (OT). In addition to more commonly recognized types of traditional physical and occupational therapies, OTs are licensed to provide low-vision treatment services. Services are available at the Main Street Physical Rehabilitation Center on Wednesdays.

“My role as an occupational therapist is to help people achieve a level of independence in their lives despite their low-vision status,” said Kim Downs, OT, liaison for the program. “We help them learn new ways to read their mail, write a check, cook a meal, or figure out how to take their medication. As more people are living longer, active lives, there’s more pressure to stay independent despite one’s handicap.”

Low-vision is a growing problem in this country, especially given the aging population. “Low-vision is the third common cause of impairment in older adults,” Ms Downs says, right behind arthritis and heart disease. It’s estimated that 30 to 35 million people are visually impaired.”

The biggest causes are macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma. Some patients suffer from low-vision following a stroke or other neurological problem.

The Lions Club has a long history of supporting the treatment of low-vision, according to Tom Nolan, area coordinator. In addition to running this Low-Vision Program, it also collects eyeglasses for distribution to the needy, helps fund eye research, and provides a variety of other vision-related services.

While the Main Street Physical Rehabilitation Program provides the occupational therapy, the Lions Club donates all the adaptive equipment given to patients, including hand-held magnifiers and other visual aids, according to Ms Downs.

In addition, Mr Nolan or another Lions Club member is always on hand on Wednesdays at the Main Street Program to help patients change the batteries or light bulbs in their magnifiers and other devices.

While devices are helpful, therapy teachers a patient ways to cope with low-vision, according to Ms Downs. For example, she might teach a patient to mark the dials on their stove to designate on and off. She will also recommend better lighting solutions.

Patients usually participate in the program for about three weeks. Entry in the program is by referral from an ophthalmologist. For more information about the Low-Vision Program, call 730-5900.

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