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.

Don’t Get Eclipsed!!

Solar eclipses happen every year. There are at least two, and sometimes as many as five, that carve their way somewhere around the Earth.

But whether or not you get to see them depends on where you live. The sun might slide behind the moon somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, for example, leaving few opportunities for viewers to take in the spectacle. Or it might occur on the other side of the earth while your home is shrouded in night, leaving no better option than staring up at the night sky.

Then there are the different degrees of eclipse. A partial solar eclipse, when the moon blocks part of the sun but not all of it, is more common than a total solar eclipse, when the entirety of the sun is obscured and day briefly turns to night.

So despite the relative frequency of eclipses, what is happening today is rare. In the United States the last total eclipse was 38 years ago, in March of 1979. And if you miss today’s event, the next opportunity to see one isn’t until 2024.

So get excited, and make sure you go see it. But whatever do, don’t look at it!

That’s right, don’t look at it. These beautiful, stunning rare events are extremely dangerous, at least for your eyes. It is never safe to look directly at the sun, and an eclipse is no different. Even wearing sunglasses is not enough to keep your eyes safe for watching. If you are going to take in this celestial spectacle, you need to be prepared.

There are a handful of easy safe ways recommended by NASA to view the sun today. The easiest is through a pair of special eclipse viewing glasses. They look like the old 3D glasses, but instead of one red lens and one blue they have special dark lenses rated to the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. Anything less is not enough.

Another option is a welding mask, but be sure the filter’s shade number is adequate. NASA suggests a rating of 14. Few welding masks are rated this dark. If yours is not, don’t use it.

Another option that might require a bit of creativity but is a fun way to look at the sun is the projection method, where a pinhole allows the projection of the sun onto a surface. Instead of looking directly at the sun you watch the projection, which is safe on the eyes. There are a number of options for how to project the sun, from two sheets of paper held parallel to building a camera obscura from a cardboard box to transforming a pair of binoculars into a focusable projector. These keep your eyes looking away from the sun and its direct rays, which in turn keeps them safe.

According to the Solar Center at Stanford University, those in the exact path of the total eclipse can look up when the sun is fully covered by the moon, at the point when the sky goes dark, but for most of us viewing the eclipse requires protection. And even in the direct path there is ample opportunity to damage your eyes. Be safe, and if in doubt look away. The next U.S. eclipse is seven years from now — chances are you’ll want to use your eyes a lot between now and then.

Summer, Sunglasses and Safeguarding Your Sight

Summer is a time to be outside. Sun and hot weather push us out the door, and we find ourselves at the beach, the lake, hiking in the mountains or grilling in the backyard. All that time in the open air is glorious, but it can also be hard on our eyes. Sunlight, wonderful to bask in, when left to shine on unprotected eyes can take a toll.

The sun not only shines with sunlight, it also emits ultraviolet radiation. Roughly 10 percent of the energy from the sun is transmitted as UV rays. We can’t see these rays with our eyes, but they can still do damage to our eyes.

UV rays come in different forms. Some, like UVC rays, get absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere. But others, like UVB radiation, are only partially blocked, and UVA rays are not blocked at all. UVB can burn skin and eyes, and UVA can cause serious eye damage. These are the rays from which we need to protect our eyes. Extended exposure has been linked to cataracts, macular degeneration, and conditions like pingueculae (a yellowish, slightly raised thickening of the conjunctiva on the white part of the eye), pterygia (a pinkish, triangular tissue growth on the cornea) and photokeratitis (a painful eye condition caused by exposure of insufficiently protected eyes to the ultraviolet rays) that can cause temporary vision loss.

As destructive as this radiation can be, however, all it takes to beat the sun and still embrace summer is a good pair of sunglasses. But not all sunglasses are created equal. Many cheap varieties lack UVA and UVB protection, which means that while they might shade your eyes they don’t protect them. To keep your eyes healthy, look for sunglasses rated to provide 100% UV protection, or glasses labeled with UV 400 protection, which means they block all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers. That covers both UVA and UVB radiation. Expensive sunglasses offer this kind of protection, but you don’t have to break the bank for eye health — plenty of gas station varieties offer 100% UV protection, too.

Glasses alone won’t protect your eyes, however. To do any good, you have to wear them. In the glovebox, in a pants pocket or pushed up on your forehead, they do nothing. The Vision Council reports only one in five Americans wears their sunglasses all the time. If you’re focused on eye health, you’ll be one of those who do.

And parents: These rules don’t just apply to adults. Children spend more time outside than adults. According to the Vision Council, children receive an annual dose of UV roughly three times higher than adults. But only 7.4 percent of American adults report their children wear sunglasses regularly, and 13.4 percent use nothing to protect their children’s eyes from the UV rays.

Everyone should wear sunglasses, regardless of age, regularly. The Vision Council suggests donning a pair anytime you’re outdoors during daylight hours. Sunglasses are not just for style. Proper shades keep you looking good, and seeing well.

National Children’s Vision and Learning Month

It’s August! The eighth month, named after a Roman emperor, is a time for sand and sun, bikes, beach vacations and road trips. August is summer full swing: hot days, warm nights, swimsuits and flip flops, thunderstorms and fireflies, lemonade and barbecues.

But the warmest month is also a time to focus on eye health. August is National Children’s Vision and Learning Month, dedicated to increasing awareness of the prevalence of undiagnosed or misdiagnosed vision problems among children and the importance of comprehensive vision exams for kids’ education.

September follows August, bringing thoughts of school and of the healthy vision children need to see the whiteboard and read their textbooks and computer screens.

But according to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, as many as 1 in 10 children suffer from vision problems, and in-school eye screenings often fail to identify them. As many as half of children with vision problems remain undiagnosed.

Unaware of their vision problems, these children struggle to keep up with their peers in class. Undiagnosed issues can lead to diagnoses of ADD, ADHD or other attention disorders, when in fact these problems are better fixed by prescription lenses or other vision treatment.

The College of Optometrists in Vision Development launched National Vision and Learning Month and plopped it right in the heart of beach season to raise awareness of this issue. August is a time for children to get comprehensive vision exams — far more important than new pencils or notebooks, healthy eyes are at the very foundation of learning. National Vision and Learning Month encourages parents, grandparents, families and teachers to make sure all the children in their lives have appointments for adequate eye care. Vision exams are as important as back-to-school shopping, if not more. Undiagnosed vision problems shouldn’t leave children struggling unnecessarily. Early detection aids treatment, and these are not difficulties children will “grow out of.”

And as always, if someone needs to get to an eye care appointment, Rides in Sight is here to help you find a ride. Our service is available to families of children with eye appointments as much as anyone. If you need a ride, we’re here, no matter the season.