Mar 17 2009

Easier Web surfing for people with reduced vision

Posted at 2:04 pm under Aging in America conference,Uncategorized

Ed Cohen

March 16, 2009

If you know someone whose vision problems make it difficult to surf the Internet, consider downloading the experimental LowBrowse plug-in for Mozilla’s free Firefox Internet browser. (First you have to download and install Firefox, of course.)

The software was developed by Lighthouse International, an organization dedicated to fighting vision loss. Lighthouse’s senior vice president for policy and evaluation, Cynthia Stuen, presented at the conference. She’s also chair of the board of the American Society on Aging.

Here are some facts from her talk on vision and health literacy:

  • Each decade past age 30 we need about 20 percent more light to see well because of yellowing of the eye lens and other forms of eye deterioration.
  • In a 1995 survey, 17 percent of people 64-75 said they had visual impairment that their corrective lenses didn’t solve. The figure was 25 percent for people 75 and older. Some of that may be due to there being people who need stronger prescriptions but either can’t afford them or refuse to get them, she said. She estimated that about 12-13% of seniors have uncorrectable vision problems because of conditions like macular degeneration.
  • Nearly half of diabetes patients have retinopathy, damage to the retina caused by a problem of blood flow to the eye. This is a growing concern because diabetes is becoming more and more prevalent, she said.
  • Here’s a simple visual assist device: Use black or dark-colored measuring cups instead of white because most of what we measure when cooking (flour, sugar) is white, and the contrast between  light and dark makes the measuring lines much easier to read.

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