Ride Stories

Here at Rides in Sight we answer phone calls every day from people searching for transportation. Ours is the largest and best database of ride services anywhere. These are stories of actual calls, only the names have been changed.

This week we helped Karen, an elderly woman in Dover, New Hampshire, find rides eye doctor appointments. Karen needed a second operation on her eyes, but, “I can’t get there because I can’t drive,” she said. A Rides in Sight customer service specialist researched the Seacoast region of New Hampshire and found two organizations that provide rides to seniors in the Dover area.

“My focus right now is getting my sight back,” Karen said, “but I didn’t have any way to get there. When I found the Rides in Sight pamphlet I called immediately. This is amazing, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this!”

Now that she’s aware of the transportation options in her area Karen will not have to worry about getting to her eye appointments.

15,000+ ride service options. One hotline.

The Gift of Sight

Over time, things grow fuzzy: clouded vision, faded colors, lights too bright or haloed, failing night vision, double vision. These are the symptoms of cataracts, a clouding of the eye lens that touches more than half of all Americans by the time they reach age 80. An easily treatable condition, left untended it can lead to blindness. Cataract removal is simple, one of the most common operations in the United States, a safe and effective surgery that leaves roughly 90 percent of patients with better vision afterward.

But the majority of cases are not in the United States. Worldwide 18 million people suffer from cataracts, most of whom live in the developing world, where access to medical treatment can be scarce. So despite being easily treatable, cataracts plague the vision of millions worldwide.

Enter the Himalayan Cataract Project, a nonprofit launched in 1995 by two eye doctors, Sanduk Ruit and Geoff Tabin. Ruit is a Nepali-born doctor who studied in India before going to the Netherlands and Australia on fellowships. He then returned to Nepal with dreams of reviving sight in his home nation. He worked with international colleagues to develop low-cost lens replacements and set up a factory in Katmandu to manufacture them. He also refined techniques that cut surgical times drastically. Suddenly a surgery that cost thousands in the developed world was available in Nepal for $25. The paradigm of available sight had shifted.

The Himalayan Cataract Project has since completed 600,000 cataract surgeries across the developing world, from Nepal to India and Ethiopia to Myanmar. And in addition to surgical work they have led an eye health educational campaign in Nepal to let people across the country know they can escape being trapped by cataracts. Blindness there has subsequently dropped from one blind person for every 100 people to less than 0.2 percent. With the Himalayan Cataract Project, things don’t have to grow fuzzy.

Simple solutions have the power to surmount barriers to healthy vision. The Himalayan Cataract Project is dedicated to making a difference across the developing world, one set of eyes at a time.

Small fixes can make a big difference at home too: If you find yourself experiencing vision troubles, talk to your eye care professional. Early detection can be instrumental in producing a positive outcome.

And as always, if you need assistance getting there, a ride to reach your eye doctor, call Rides in Sight. We can help. Simple solutions surmount barriers to healthy vision.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

November is American Diabetes Month, a month aimed at focusing attention on the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes affects more than 30 million Americans, causing health complications like heart disease, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputations. It hits seniors particularly hard — roughly one in four Americans 65 or older suffer from diabetes — and it can cause blindness and other vision problems.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has its own campaign designed to focus special attention on eye conditions exacerbated by diabetes, such as glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month piggybacks on American Diabetes Month, but with vision in mind.

Glaucoma, for example, is 40 percent more likely among diabetes patients than the general population. Caused by a building of pressure within the eye, according to the American Diabetes Association, glaucoma causes blood vessels to the retina and optic nerve to pinch, resulting in gradual vision loss. The longer a person has diabetes the more likely they are to develop glaucoma.

Cataracts, meanwhile, are common in older people, but those with diabetes face a 60 percent greater chance of developing them. Cataracts are the clouding of the eye’s lens, which can leave vision blurry, or dark, or affect night vision, or leave lights haloed. People with diabetes tend to get cataracts younger than people without diabetes, and the condition progresses faster. Doctors can perform surgery to address cataracts, but people with diabetes suffer greater post-surgical risks.

Then there is diabetic retinopathy, the most common eye condition tied to diabetes. It affects more than 5 million Americans and is potentially blinding. Diabetic retinopathy occurs as blood vessels inside the retina becoming damaged, leading to fluid leakage into the retina. Retinopathy can cause severe vision loss, but if detected early there are treatment options. The best outcomes occur when retinopathy is discovered early, before it affects vision, which takes an eye care professional to notice.

Which is perhaps the most important point of Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month: to safeguard their vision, people with diabetes need to be extra vigilant. They need to schedule regular eye exams, monitor their blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Diabetes carries real risks to vision, but if approached carefully they are often manageable. November is meant to serve as a reminder to look those challenges square on and move forward. Healthy vision requires it.

And as always, if you need a ride to an eye care appointment, Rides in Sight is just a call or a click away. When it comes to supporting healthy vision, we can help, no matter where you are.

Ride Stories

Here at Rides in Sight we answer phone calls every day from people searching for transportation. Ours is the largest and best database of ride services anywhere. These are stories of actual calls, only the names have been changed.

Last month Rides in Sight helped a legally blind 75-year-old woman named Beth find transportation in Montgomery County, Penn. Beth lives without family in the area and is legally blind. She needed rides for medical appointments, so Beth called Rides in Sight to ask about local transportation options. Rides in Sight found Beth two options in her area: a county-operated senior minibus service, and a non-profit organization that assists blind and visually impaired adults with transportation and other vital needs. Rides in Sight’s up-to-date information about low-cost transportation options enabled Beth to solve her issue of rides to her upcoming medical appointments quickly and easily.

15,000+ ride service options. One hotline.

The Clarity of Vision

Vision. It’s our central sense, the one we rely on most heavily for nearly everything we do, from walking to cooking to recognizing the face of a friend. Vision keeps us on track in everyday life.

But for many Americans, clear vision is elusive. As we age, our vision may cloud and deteriorate. But it’s not just age that gets us. Even among young people sharp eyes aren’t universal. And according to research, the problem is getting worse. The National Eye Institute reports that least 1/3 of Americans are nearsighted. And a 2009 study found the prevalence of nearsightedness (myopia) in people 12 to 54 shot up by roughly 66 percent between the 1970s and the early 2000s. Vision is precious, but it’s becoming more blurry.

The authors of the study hypothesize the overall decline in American vision may be due to something called “near work,” or vision tasks that take place close to the eyes. “Individuals who spend considerable time reading, working at a computer, or doing other intense close visual work may be more likely to develop myopia,” according to the American Optometric Association. The authors of the 2009 study suggest increases in education might be responsible for the uptick they saw, as more time is now spent reading and researching both in books and on computers.

And if that is the case, the situation could be poised to get even worse. The 2009 study looked at data from the 1970s and compared it to 1999-2004. The smartphone, meanwhile, was launched in 2007, ushering a whole new era of ever-increasing screen time (which is a category of near work).

Eye doctors have a number of suggestions in this near-work-intensive computer age for maintaining eye health, beginning with the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes take a 20-second break from staring at the screen and look at something 20 feet away. This is an important habit for people to develop who spend long hours on the computer.

But there are other factors as well. Too much computer work is often called digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome — eyes that suffer from working harder than they should have to for long periods of time. Such eye strain can be reduced by observing the 20-20-20 rule, by addressing poor lighting and screen glare and by adjusting viewing distance and seating posture. Also, it is important to see an eye care professional to address any uncorrected vision problems.

Lastly, remember these factors can also affect children, who, like adults, are spending more and more time looking at screens.

“Sitting for hours in front of a computer screen stresses a child’s eyes because the computer forces the child’s vision system to focus and strain a lot more than any other task,” according to Gary Heiting and Larry K. Wan, optometrists who write for AllAboutVision.com. “This can put children at an even greater risk than adults for developing symptoms of computer vision syndrome.”

The guidelines for adults also apply to children. Parents might additionally consider limiting their child’s screen time for the health of their eyes.

Because healthy eyes are a lifelong treasure.

Ride Stories

Here at Rides in Sight we answer phone calls every day from people searching for transportation. Ours is the largest and best database of ride services anywhere. These are stories of actual calls, only the names have been changed.

This week we helped legally blind 57-year-old woman named Amy find transportation in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Amy is extremely self-sufficient, able to do everything except drive. She called Rides in Sight looking for a local ride service, and luckily she lives in the service area of one of our ITN affiliates, ITNCentralOklahoma, which serves senior citizens and visually impaired adults in the Oklahoma City region. Through ITN Amy can access arm-through-arm, door-through-door rides for any purpose at a reasonable fare.

In addition to ITN, Rides in Sight recommended the local ADA para-transit service, a curb-to-curb minibus that costs just a few dollars each way. Amy said she’d try out both options to see which one she liked better, and was grateful for the referrals.

15,000+ ride service options. One hotline.

Ride Stories

Here at Rides in Sight we answer phone calls every day from people searching for transportation. Ours is the largest and best database of ride services anywhere. These are stories of actual calls, only the names have been changed.

This week we helped Michelle, who lives outside of Detroit, Michigan, find transportation options for her elderly parents in the Memphis, Tennessee, area. Her parents are both in their 80s and rely on mobility devices like walkers and wheelchairs to get around. Not being there in person to help with transportation, Michelle called Rides in Sight to learn what options might be available in her parents’ area. After speaking with a Rides in Sight representative, Michelle learned there were several options for her family.

“I appreciate your help because I was at a loss,” Michelle said. “You have given me way more information than I had and I appreciate that. Thank you so much!”

The Gift of Grandparents

Sunday is Grandparents’ Day, a day to honor the wisdom and contributions of the previous generation. It’s a holiday not only for those with multigenerational families of their own, but for every older person—grandparents biological or grandparents adopted. Being a grandparent is the great gift of aging: it’s like parenting, but with less responsibility and more opportunities for spoiling. It’s an uncomplicated relationship, one built of unconditional love.

But what happens if being a grandparent overlaps with fading vision? As we age our vision inevitably changes, and for many the impact can be dramatic. How can older people retain the joy of grandparenting even as their eyes go dim? The American Foundation for the Blind has a host of recommendations. Most importantly, “there is no reason why declining vision needs to prevent you from enjoying your grandchildren,” according to the foundation. Vision loss or impairment doesn’t have to hold anyone back from one of the greatest gifts life has to offer.

Vision changes might mean different activities, however — reading together instead of hiking into a favorite fishing spot, board games instead of baseball. But many family favorites can and should still happen. On the Vision Aware blog grandmother Linda Fugate recommends going to children’s sports games even if you can’t watch them — just having you there is enough. And ask to have pictures taken with your grandchild. Those are bound to become lifelong treasures.

Don’t be afraid to be upfront about your eyesight when talking to your grandchild. And don’t be afraid to take the role of caregiver just as you would with full vision. There are additional challenges, but vision challenges don’t have to stop that special bond from forming.

One of the biggest challenges, of course, can be transportation. Vision loss means no more driving. But that’s where Rides in Sight can help. With Rides in Sight, you can find a service capable of delivering you to your grandchild’s school so you can watch that sports game, play, spelling bee or holiday pageant. Rides in Sight can also help you find a service to take you to the store, where shopping together becomes its own adventure. Rides in Sight can help you access the tools you need to maintain your independence, which means you and your grandchild can escape the parents and build your own unique relationship.

When it comes to helping those with vision impairment live full lives, Rides in Sight can make a difference. No matter where you are in the country, our listing of ride service providers is the best anywhere. If anyone can find you a ride, we can.

Want to do something really special for a grandparent, something that doesn’t cost anything and means a lot? Go on the computer, pull up the Rides in Sight website and search their community. Find what transportation options are available to them.  Do it this weekend. Make this Sunday the best Grandparent’s Day yet. Give the gift of independence.

Healthy Aging, Healthy Eyes

September is Healthy Aging Month. It’s a month dedicated to being your best self no matter your age, a yearly reminder to do the little things as you move through the years to keep a spring in your step and a smile on your face. It doesn’t matter how many years you have under your belt, there are always steps you can take to keep yourself healthy, things like regular exercise, healthy eating, and maintaining relationships with friends, family and neighbors. These building blocks support lifelong health, and that’s what Healthy Aging Month is all about.

But there is always more you can do, like routine health screenings and dental exams. Here at Rides in Sight, when Healthy Aging Month comes around we think about eye exams.

Eye health is a key part of healthy aging. So much of what we do in life, so many of the things that make life rewarding — art, exercise, movies, driving, working, cooking, eating — require healthy eyes. But by the time we reach age 50  the risks of eye disease and other vision impairment spikes. According to the National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute, vision loss is not a normal part of aging. Changes in vision occur, but vision loss and blindness are not inevitable.

Older adults, however, carry increased risk for diseases and conditions like age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, dry eye, and low vision. Many of these offer no early symptoms, but eye exams can detect them early. That’s what makes eye exams so important. They can keep you seeing as you age, catch diseases that might in time wreak havoc on normal vision.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends most adults get their first baseline eye examination at 40. Early screening allows early detection. Evidence of eye disease or vision changes caught early can often be treated, and early treatment can have the most impact on preserving vision. And people who already have an eye disease, or risk factors for developing one such as diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of eye disease, should see an ophthalmologist even before 40.

That initial vision screening will give your eye doctor the information to tell you how often you should undergo an eye exam as you age. If you are 65 or older, make sure you have your eyes checked every year or two for signs of age-related eye diseases such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.

More than 40 million Americans are currently age 65 or older. By 2050 that number is expected to more than double. In that same timeframe, the number of Americans with age-related eye diseases is expected to double, and the number of people living with low vision is projected to triple. Vision screening leads to early detection, and early detection leads to treatment. Treatment can lead to saving sight. Sight helps maintain a healthy, active, fulfilling life. Healthy Aging Month is all about all of those.

Ride Stories

Here at Rides in Sight we answer phone calls every day from people searching for transportation. Ours is the largest and best database of ride services anywhere. These are stories of actual calls, only the names have been changed.

This week we helped a woman named Jane in Standish, Maine, who underwent a recent medical procedure that left her unable to drive for a time. Living 35 minutes outside of Portland, Maine, where her doctors are located, Jane was concerned about getting to her medical appointments. Jane thought she’d need to rely on a taxi service or Uber to get to appointments, but Rides in Sight found Jane a volunteer transportation service that for a reasonable suggested donation provides door-to-door escorted rides to seniors in the greater Lakes Region of Maine, including Standish. Thanks to Rides in Sight Jane now has reliable access to her doctor’s appointments. Jane said she was very happy that Rides in Sight was able to find her a volunteer service in her area that could meet her needs.

15,000+ ride service options. One hotline.