December Newsletter No. 330

Cost of living crisis

The cost of living crisis is affecting everyone but the impact is being felt to a greater extent by blind and partially sighted people due to unavoidable costs like assistive technology and support in the home.

It’s important that decision makers hear about how the cost of living crisis is affecting people with sight loss. If you are blind or partially sighted, please share your experiences with us by filling out this form (see link below).

Charity launches UK’s first ever inclusive Christmas grotto for children with vision impairment

Poor diet increases risk of vision impairment

Diet plays a major role in your eye health. Research has suggested eating a “poor diet” could increase your odds of getting eye problems by nearly 30 percent. Age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of vision loss, is one such condition that is linked to poor diet. More details below:

Living with the challenge of sight loss

A woman has told how she coped with visual impairment and chronic fatigue to become a campaigner for disability rights. Elin Williams endured bullying in her childhood and has to pace herself to cope the debilitating condition ME.

But she has overcome these difficulties to run an award-winning lifestyle blog My Blurred World with thousands of regular readers as far as Australia.

Google’s Reading Mode app helps visually impaired people read long-form content

Google has launched a new app called Reading Mode today. It helps people with visual impairments and dyslexia read the content on the screen — especially articles.

The newly released app works on any device running Android 9.0 or above. Once you install it on your phone, you will have to turn on the toggle for the app under the Accessibility settings. This allows the app to have a floating button on the screen all the time, so you can turn any app or webpage into a more accessible version.

Hiking for visually impaired people

Hiking is great exercise and a way to get outdoors. Visually impaired writer Caroline Butterwick considers how she and other people with disabilities can make the most of hiking, and her sense of belonging in the natural world.

Scientists find strong link between macula degeneration and cardiac events

New research by the Mount Sinai Hospital has found a strong link between a specific form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and serious cardiovascular events. The study, published in BMJ Open Ophthalmology, is the first to identify which types of cardiovascular disease are associated with the eye disorder.

Researchers established that patients with the condition were also likely to have underlying heart damage, advanced valve disease or carotid artery disease.

Prevent diabetes from impacting your vision

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition where blood vessels in the retina swell and leak fluid, causing vision loss. The longer you live with diabetes, the higher your chances are of developing diabetic retinopathy. But many do not realise their sight is being affected until they begin to lose their vision. Keys to managing diabetes include:

    • Keep blood pressure and cholesterol low through low sugar and low sodium diets
    • Exercise and maintain an active routine to stay heathy.
    • Maintain yearly eye exams to help address the condition before severe vision loss occurs.;-Prevent-Diabetes-from-Impa

How NaviLens helps people with sight loss get the information they need

NaviLens has been designed specifically to enable blind and partially sighted people to be able to access and locate information and interact with the environment around them. NaviLens is free and easy to use. The app works on both the Android and Apple operating systems and is completely accessible.

The app is used to get information from optical codes which can be placed on anything from buildings to packaging materials.

Each optical code, called a NaviLens code, is surrounded by a white boarder encompassing a smaller black boarder which surrounds a five-by-five grid pattern of individual squares. Each of these squares are coloured either cyan, magenta, yellow or black.

NaviLens codes can be read by a smartphone camera and do not require any power or transmit any signal. The size of the code determines how easy it is to detect; the larger the code the further away it can be detected.

By pointing your phone camera in the general direction you want to scan, the NaviLens app can recognise NaviLens codes in the vicinity. It does this without the need to focus on the code or know exactly where it is situated. Information is then presented both visually, audibly and through haptics; effectively through touch.

Can AI smart glasses make blind people more independent?

Using AI-powered smart glasses can improve personal independence for visually impaired people, according to one blind user of the technology.

Stuart Beveridge, who is visually impaired and has been blind since birth, relies on his guide dog around the clock.

But since 2020, he has been using smart glasses with software which can take a photo and describe his surroundings. It can also connect him with  loved ones who can access his video vision.

“I’m actually doing a lot more on my own,” Mr Beveridge said.