Happy Memorial Day

“May we never forget freedom isn’t free.”

VRS will be closed for Memorial Day on Monday, May 28th.  As you enjoy time with friends and family, please take a moment to thank those who have given so much to our country.  

 Shared by our Executive Director, Sharon Croyle:
“My now deceased Aunt Grace was an Army nurse.  She spoke of traveling on a hospital train with our wounded WWII soldiers as they traveled to Army hospitals or home.  I don’t think she ever thought of how much she meant to those boys.  But I know from stories about my Dad, also a wounded WWII soldier just how meaningful it was to him that those doctors and nurses healed not only their wounds, but their spirit as well.
 
Many serve and it is not always in combat.
 
Wishing you a relaxing and safe weekend”

What’s on Your Plate?

From an anonymous submitter…

“The truth is that I have always hated talking about nutrition. This was mostly because I wasn’t good at it; I wasn’t one of those people who loved nutritious snacks and grabbed an apple out of the fridge if I was hungry. My mother made me cinnamon toast on white bread for a snack. My first instinct was always to grab potato chips or chocolate bars as snacks. After years of growing up with this pattern, how could I not be pounds and pounds overweight and physically weak. When my diabetic mother came to live with us, and she began struggling with all the repercussions of an unhealthy diet including vision and circulation problems due to her diabetes, I knew it was time to take a serious look at my own diet. Through Weight Watchers and a lot of family support, I have lost 75 pounds and am still on my way to my goal weight. Nutrition and exercise are no longer words I avoid.”

National Nutrition Month® is in March. It is a nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to focus on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
This year’s theme is “Go Further with Food” and focuses on the many different lifestyles of Americans and specific food requirements for those lifestyles. According to registered dietician Jim White, of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there’s no one diet that is right for everyone. “It’s important to follow a healthful eating plan that’s packed with tasty foods and that keeps your unique lifestyle in mind,” said White.

For example, if you live an on-the-go lifestyle, like many Americans, it is important to plan ahead and pack fresh fruits or vegetables to eat throughout the day. Don’t assume that you can find the healthy choice you need at a restaurant nearby. Check the menu first.
Athletes should eat protein-filled food like peanut butter and yogurt, in order to have the fuel they need for their daily activities.
Students should turn to the healthy options in their school cafeteria like baked chicken and the salad bar. Avoid the popular favorites like French fries and other fried foods.

Vegetarians and vegans should include protein-rich foods like beans, lentils, nuts and soy products.  Because lifestyles vary so widely from person to person, White recommends seeking the guidance of a registered dietician to develop a food plan that’s right for you. Find a registered dietitian in your area by visiting www.eatright.org.

Meet Esref Armagan – A Blind Painter

March is National Craft Month and most people would assume that those with visual impairments would have little interest in creating crafts when they can’t fully see their own creation.

They would be wrong. Some might believe that creating tactile pieces like pottery or knitted sweaters would be the only form of art that a person challenged with vision could complete. Again, they would be wrong. People with blindness or low vision have the same passion to create art as others, and even have a unique approach due to their limited vision.

Consider Esref Armagan. Born in 1953 in Istanbul, Turkey, Esref had one eye the size of a lentil.  The other eye was fully formed but totally non-functional, leaving him completely blind.

Despite his blindness, Esref had a strong desire to discover the world around him and express himself through color and art. Using cardboard and nails, he first drew patterns on paper, then began drawing pictures using paper and pencil.

Esref sees and discovers the world with his fingertips. His first picture, drawn around age 8, was a butterfly. He drew and drew as a child, mixing vibrant colors to express what he felt with his fingertips. By age 18, he was painting on poster paper with oil paints, and decided on a career as a painter.

Using colors, perspective, shadow, light and balance in his pictures Esref began to attract the attention of both international artists and curious scientists. In 2004, Harvard University scientists tested him with brain and eye scans.  They were amazed to discover that his brain´s visual cortex lit up whenever he touched an object and began drawing.

Today Esref has developed a unique technique and method to paint what he imagines.  He has been featured in the documentary “The Real Superhumans” by Discovery Channel as well as in an internet commercial for Volvo and numerous media interviews for television, radio and the press.

 

 

Here is a video of his story:

https://youtu.be/JTDQcSS809c

 

 

February – Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month

Mom began to complain about a blurry spot in the middle of her vision while reading; something she loves to do every day. Threading needles for her quilting was also harder and we helped her out by pre-threading them and pinning them to her sewing room curtain. Little did we know that she was experiencing some of the most common symptoms of Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD)

ARMD or AMD — is the deterioration of the macula,  the small central area of the retina of the eye responsible for visual acuity. The health of the macula determines our ability to read, recognize faces, drive, watch television, use a computer, and perform any other visual task that requires us to see fine detail.

According to Friends for Sight, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving sight, ARMD affects 1.65 million individuals in the United States and is the leading cause of vision loss in people older than 65 years.  Due to the aging of the U.S. population, the number of people affected by AMD is expected to increase significantly in the years ahead.

According to a recent study by university researchers and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 6.5 percent of Americans age 40 and older have some degree of macular , which explains why when mom began sharing her diagnosis with her friends, several of them also admitted to struggling with reading and seeing small print, just like her!

Macular degeneration is diagnosed as either dry or wet.  In dry AMD, there is new growth of blood vessels in the retina where they are not supposed to be. About 85 to 90 percent of AMD patients are diagnosed with dry AMD. Doctors believe it may result from the aging and thinning of macular tissues, the depositing of pigment in the macula or a combination of the two.

Dry macular degeneration is diagnosed when yellowish spots known as drusen begin to accumulate in and around the macula. It is believed these spots are deposits or debris from deteriorating tissue. Gradual central vision loss may occur with dry macular degeneration. Like my mum, most people begin to first experience difficulties with reading small print such as on their medication bottles or their mail.

In wet macular degeneration new blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid. This leakage causes permanent damage to light-sensitive retinal cells, which die off and create blind spots in central vision.

AMD usually produces a slow, painless loss of vision. In rare cases, however, vision loss can be sudden. Early signs of vision loss from AMD include shadowy areas in central vision or unusually fuzzy or distorted vision.

Risk factors for macular degeneration include having a family member with AMD, high blood pressure, lighter eye color, diabetes, obesity, poor nutrition and inactivity.High levels of dietary fat also may be a risk factor for developing AMD.

Although there is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, there are some treatments which may delay its progression or even improve vision. Many doctors may recommend a type of nutritional intervention such as taking a good multi-vitamin, may help prevent its progression to the wet form. These dietary modifications are also beneficial to one’s overall health as well. individuals with diabetes. For example, some studies have suggested a diet that includes plenty of salmon and other cold water fish, which contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, may help prevent AMD or reduce the risk of its progression.

As you age, particularly if you are a diabetic, make certain to be aware of the risk factors associated with AMD. Maintain a healthy lifestyle including good nutritional choices and exercise.And, don’t forget, visit your eye doctor and general practitioner annually. If you do find that you are struggling with some of the side affects of ARMD, call the staff at VRS for assistance. We can help you learn how to use some basic tools and strategies to see you best and to continue to do the things you love, even with ARMD.

Seasons Greetings & Happy Holidays

Vision Rehabilitation Services of GA wishes each and every one of you very Happy Holidays!  May the time you spend with family and friends warm your hearts and remain with you always.  VRS looks forward to the New Year and being able to serve our clients and their families.  We also appreciate our sponsors and supporters in all they do to help our efforts.

In observance of the Holidays, VRS will be closing at 1pm ET today.  We will remain closed Monday, December 25th, and Tuesday, December 26th.  We will reopen, Wednesday, December 27th!

Four-Part Christmas Plan For Diabetics

Christmas bellsIt’s the Christmas season and those with diabetes should approach the season with thoughtful planning in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and keep up with hard-earned healthy habits.  Creating a four-part plan for eating, drinking, traveling and activity at Christmas is one strategy recommended by the American Diabetes Association.  VRS instructors can assist you in developing your holiday plan – feel free to contact us at any time with questions:

Holiday Eating Plan:

American holidays are typically celebrated with excess food, so it is important to have an eating plan for maintaining healthy glucose levels Holiday Eating plan graphicthroughout the season.

  • Communicate your dietary needs to the event host
  • Offer to bring healthy alternatives to add to the menu
  • Have a high protein snack earlier in the day to avoid arriving hungry at the event

How to cut calories, without compromising on taste:

  • Remove the skin and eat light-colored meat (breast) rather than dark meat (thigh)
  • Make low-carb pigs in a blanket. Use low-fat cocktail sausages and pierce the skins. Instead of wrapping in bread, wrap with lean back-bacon (with the excess fat trimmed off) and grill. Do not fry or bake
  • Roast your potatoes; minimize fat by dry-roasting or using spray oil
  • Use vegetarian sausage rather than high-fat, high-calorie sausage meat in your stuffing
  • Keep to the healthy plate rule: 2/3 of your plate should be vegetables
  • Be extra cautious with dessert. Check out this link for dessert ideas. https://www.rd.com/food/recipes-cooking/diabetes-friendly-holiday-desserts/

If you have a higher blood glucose level than normal due to overindulging or changing your routine; don’t worry too much as this shouldn’t affect your long-term diabetes control.  Do aim to avoid persistently high readings in order to avoid compromising your hard-earned healthy habits.

Holiday Drinking Guidelines:

Holiday Drinking guidelines graphicAlcohol intake can lower blood glucose levels and increase the risk of a hypoglycemia incident.  Check with your doctor or pharmacist regarding how your prescriptions interact with alcohol and adjust your intake accordingly.

  • Diabetic men should have a maximum of 3-4 units of alcohol
  • Diabetic women a maximum of 2-3 units
  • Alternate between alcoholic and diet soft drinks or water can help limit the amount of alcohol you consume and keep you hydrated
  • Reduce calories and alcohol units by consuming lower strength wine
  • Do not to drink on an empty stomach – this can cause a low blood sugar event

Holiday Travel Tips:

Travelling with diabetes requires some extra planning and, at times, extra luggage!  List the items needed for your journey; keep an extra copy on your device or with a loved-one.

Travel Tips graphic

  • Always take extra supplies in case of an emergency
  • Plan for the unexpected: storm and airline delays may require longer stays
  • Bring extra insulin, meters, strips, pump supplies, alcohol wipes and Skin Tac wipes. You may also want to bring additional ketone urine strips. Use a Frio or other cooling bag for carrying insulin.
  • If you are flying, plan for extra time to go through security
  • Get a medical note saying you are allowed to carry diabetes- related supplies onto the airplane
  • Carry all of your supplies onto the plane – just in case
  • Divide supplies between bags, perhaps between other family members, in case a bag gets lost
  • Find out about special precautions from your insulin pump company Most insulin pumps and CGMs cannot be removed and sent through the x-ray machine.
  • Wear a medical ID necklace or bracelet
  • Carry a list of your doctors’ phone numbers with you
  • Have a back-up plan. Always carry syringes even if you are on a pump; if your pump fails you will be okay
  • Carry Ziplock bags in case something needs to be put in ice so it doesn’t get all wet (such as a pump or insulin bottles)
  • Carry candy, granola bars, glucose tabs, and other low blood sugar foods
  • Carry extra batteries for your pump/meter if needed

 

Keeping Active during the Holidays:Keeping active graphic

There are lots of easy and fun ways to add in some extra physical activities during the holiday season.  Grab a family member up off the couch and check some of these off your list:

  • Take a brisk walk with your family after your holiday meal.
  • Dance to holiday music.
  • Go ice skating at a local or pop up ice rink.
  • Shoot a few hoops
  • Enjoy the colors or smells with a holiday hike
  • Walk the neighborhood and look at lights
  • Take a caroling walk in the neighborhood

Introducing activity into your holiday season can help control both blood sugar levels and blood pressure.  It also helps us make memories with our families and friends that will last a lifetime. Take some time to make your plan for staying healthy over the holiday season and then go enjoy!

holly

November is American Diabetes Month – Did you know…

November is American Diabetes Month, a month set aside to educate the general public about this serious, and sometimes debilitating disease. One of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States, diabetes can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease, and other health problems if it’s not controlled.

Diabetes#1causeofblindnessOne in 10 Americans have diabetes — that’s more than 30 million people. Another 84 million adults in the United States are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Fortunately, people who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes can lower their risk by more than half if they make healthy changes in their life – such as eating healthy, getting more physical activity, and losing weight. Those with diabetes in their family tree should be especially aggressive about making these changes as the risk of diabetes increases dramatically based on genetics.

Here are some tips for “tackling” Thanksgiving, football, and diabetes:

One of the most important considerations for those of us managing our diabetes or similar health issues, is to keep your blood sugars balanced during the day. Stable blood sugars ensure that your visual functioning remains consistent and at its best. The most effective way to balance blood sugars is to eat vegetables and proteins. So, on Thanksgiving Day, plan to eat small balanced meals at your regular meal times –breakfast and lunch –before the big dinner meal. Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner by eating small portions of the food available for the meal. Leave the leftovers. Go back to your normal healthy eating the next day. It’s also an excellent idea to get up and move a little. Take an after meal walk and reminisce with loved ones,  stand up, stretch, and move during commercial breaks of the football and basketball games or better yet, go outside and toss the football yourself with the kids!

Even if you are already a diabetic, you can limit the progression and impact of the disease by carefully monitoring your health and following your doctor’s plan of action to diligently treat your diabetes. Further information about the prevention and treatment of this disease can be found on the American Diabetes Association website at www.diabetes.org.

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