Newswise — NEW YORK— Nearly 14 million Americans - about one out of every 20 people - have low vision, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eye-care professionals use the term “low vision” to describe significant visual impairment that cannot be corrected with standard glasses, contact lenses, medicine or eye surgery.
According to the National Federation of The Blind, each year, 75,000 more people in the United States will become blind or visually impaired. Though the condition mainly afflicts the elderly, younger Americans are increasingly at risk of irreversible vision loss, particularly as cases of diabetes continue to rise. Low vision means that even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery, people find everyday tasks, such as reading, shopping, cooking, watching TV, writing, and exercising difficult to do.
Because of this difficulty, individuals with visual impairments often exhibit lower levels of fitness than their sighted peers, often due to fear and lack of confidence. Walking, a simple form of exercise with many health benefits, is considered a good choice for people who are visually impaired, according to Laura Sperazza, OD, Director of Low Vision Services at Lighthouse Guild in New York City.
Dr. Sperazza encourages people with low vision, who have been hesitant to venture out and walk for fitness, to participate in the American Heart Association’s National Walking Day on April 5. The day promotes all the benefits of walking, and people can keep the momentum going throughout the year by starting a Monday Mile in their community.
The Monday Mile is an initiative of The Monday Campaigns, the nonprofit public health organization, associated with Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Syracuse universities. The Monday Mile mission is to encourage people from all walks of life to walk for their health, by using Monday as the starting day. Research by Johns Hopkins shows that people view Monday as a day for a fresh start and are more likely to begin new healthy behaviors on a Monday, and carry them out for the rest of the week.
What are the best ways for people who are visually impaired to walk the Monday Mile with confidence? Dr. Sperazza offers these tips:
• Walk during daylight hours in order to avoid obstacles.• Walk with a normally sighted buddy to help avoid obstacles and unforeseen conditions.• Don’t walk in bad weather.• Wear proper shoes to avoid slipping.• Walk in familiar areas so you can anticipate the path.• Use a ‘sighted cane’ which notifies others that you have an impairment• For people with a greater level of impairment, train in the use of a ‘sighted cane’ with a mobility specialist, which can help them adjust to different surfaces and unfamiliar areas
For more information on low vision services, visit lighthouseguild.org.
About Lighthouse Guild
Lighthouse Guild, headquartered in New York City, is the leading not-for-profit vision and healthcare organization with a long history of addressing the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities or chronic medical conditions. With more than 200 years of experience and service, Lighthouse Guild brings a level of understanding to vision care that is unmatched. By integrating vision and healthcare services and expanding access through its programs and education and awareness, we help people lead productive, dignified and fulfilling lives. For more information, visit lighthouseguild.org.
Lighthouse Guild Contact:Bryan DotsonManners Dotson Group917firstname.lastname@example.org
About The Monday MileThe Monday Mile is part of The Monday Campaigns, a nonprofit organization, which dedicates the first day of every week to health. The organization offers a free Monday Mile Starter Kit and resources for workplaces, campuses and community groups to start their own program. At Syracuse University, Monday Mile routes have been created with accessibility in mind, and are well-lit and feature many flat routes. This Monday Mile program can serve as a great example of how to create an accessible Monday Mile in your community.Download the Monday Mile Starter Kit at: www.moveitmonday.org/mondaymile For a Monday Mile infographic: http://bit.ly/GroupWalkingGraphic
The Monday Campaigns Contact:Nara SandbergMarketing & Partnerships Coordinator212-991-1055 email@example.com