National Sunglasses Day: A Reminder to Protect Your Eyes from Harmful UV Light

National Sunglasses Day is held every year on June 27th and is sponsored by the Vision Council. While sunglasses can make you look cool, they are also beneficial to helping preserve your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.  Much of the population is still not aware that years of cumulative UV exposure can accelerate conditions like cataracts and age-regulated macular degeneration. If you want to actively participate in the event, post a selfie to your social media accounts, and use the hashtag #NationalSunglassesDay. This blog will look what UV light is and does plus several types of sunglasses and the benefits provided by each.

Ultraviolet (UV) Light

Stanford University states that UV (Ultraviolet) Light refers to the region of the electromagnetic spectrum between visible light and X-rays, with a wavelength falling between 400 and 10 nanometers. This electromagnetic radiation is not visible to the human eye, because it has a shorter wavelength and higher frequency than the light our brain perceives as images.

The article further discusses four basic subtypes of UV light. The first of the four is UV-A light (320-400nm). It is the UV light with the longest wavelength, and the least harmful. It is more commonly known as “black light”, and many use its ability to cause objects to emit fluorescence (a colored glowing effect) in artistic and celebratory designs. The next subtype is UV-B light (290-320nm) which causes sunburns with prolonged exposure along with increasing the risk of skin cancer and other cellular damage. Next comes subtype UV-C light (100-290nm) which is extremely harmful and is almost completely absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere. It is commonly used as a disinfectant in food, air, and water to kill microorganisms by destroying their cells’ nucleic acids. Finally, the last subtype is classified as Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) Light (10-100nm) which can only travel through a vacuum and is completely absorbed in Earth’s atmosphere.

Prolonged exposure to UV-A and UV-B waves without adequate protection can have dangerous health consequences. The eyes should always be protected from UV radiation when outside by wearing sunglasses designed to block out UV-A and UV-B rays. If one spends a large amount of time outside or in any environment with UV-A and UV-B radiation, they can develop short-term effects like Photokeratitis (known in some cases as arc-eye or snow blindness), or serious long-term conditions including cataracts which lead to blindness.

The information provided for the National Sunglasses Day event states, Ultraviolet (UV) radiation can penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere at any time and place, but certain regions have heightened radiation levels. UV rays are particularly strong near the equator since they travel a shorter distance to reach the Earth’s surface. Cities at high altitudes also share higher UV levels because the sun’s rays can easily penetrate the thin atmosphere. If you would like to know the average monthly UV index for your state (or links to nearly anywhere in the world) see the EPA’ site for Sun Safety Monthly Average UV Index.

Cocoon Eyewear

These patented sunglasses are designed to fit over almost any prescription eyewear. With their extensive technology, they will provide a polarized view, while delivering optimum protection against harmful UV rays. These lightweight frames completely isolate the eyes from the elements, cutting glare, blocking harmful UV rays, and steadying fluctuation in light conditions. The elimination of glare provides a tranquil “cocoon” for your eyes, improving visual acuity and enhancing depth perception. These sunglasses are versatile and stylish, and ideal for those that don’t wear corrective eyewear too.

The Low Vision Cocoons offer a full spectrum of filters designed to enhance contrast and/or reduce glare for those with low vision impairments. The integrated side shields are precisely regulated to match the exact transmission rates and UV absorption curves of the front filters.

ILA offers 11 different types of these glasses including Polarized or Low Vision Wideline, Polarized or Low Vision Slimline, Polarized or Low Vision Pilot Large and Polarized Aviator XL.  See Cocoons Eyewear for the complete listing of available products.

NoIR Sunglasses

NoIR Low Vision Filters are the point where utility and comfort converge, providing essential light management, visibility, and protection with an eye on wear-ability. NoIR sunglasses are available in dozens of comfortable and fashionable styles, many with top and side-shield protection and designed to fit over prescription glasses. The NoIR Low Vision Filter System is made in the USA.

The NoIR Filter system employs the same technology used for laser protective eyewear, relieving glare by absorbing the short wavelengths of the visible spectrum that can scatter within the ocular media. All filters absorb ultraviolet radiation to 400nm, with many lenses also blocking blue light, protecting the retina from high-energy wavelengths which may contribute to the degenerative process culminating in macular degeneration.

ILA offers 50 different types of NoIR Sunglasses in many different lens colors and shades to suit most anyone’s preference To see the full listing see NoIR Sunglasses.

Eyesential DryEye Sunglasses

These sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun and the elements! Eyesential™ Dry Eye Sunglasses were designed specifically for patients with sensitive eyes, including those with dry eyes and allergies. They are also the ideal choice for anyone who is exposed to dust, wind, or extreme bright sun.

These glasses offer soft cushion frame liner provides 50% more protection from the sun and elements. They block 100% UVA and UVB light and come with an anti-fog coating. If interested in this comment visit Eyesential Dryeye Sunglasses.

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Bathroom Aids: Safety and support in the bathroom help maintain Independence

The CDC states that each year, one in four Americans 65 and older experiences a fall, the leading cause of injury among older adults, and impaired vision more than doubles this risk. Falls often result in serious injuries, decreased mobility, and loss of independence. According to Caregiver, the bathroom is routinely cited as the most dangerous room in the house for seniors. Countless slips and falls occur in the bathroom, causing a difficult (and sometimes embarrassing) situation for families. This blog will look at a few simple measures that can be taken to help ensure your bathroom keeps your loved ones from becoming another of these statistics.

Bathroom Aids for the Toilet and Bathtub or Shower

Feeling confident while using the toilet and/or bathing yourself goes a long way towards safety and independence. ILA offers several products to help make this a reality.

Stander Curve Grab Bar: The Curve Grab Bar is a space saving support rail that allows the user to easily rise from a sitting position by providing 4 hand grips at 4 different heights. This pivoting grab bar locks in place every 45 degrees and can also be locked flat against the wall when the bar is not in use. Made of rust resistant, zinc plated steel, it installs quickly into two wall studs.

Vertical Bath Bar: Bar extends 14″ above tub edge to provide extra stability when getting in & out of tub. Made of steel construction with vinyl coating and protective rubber cushions. Product fits tub walls up to 6″ wide and secures to tub in minutes.

CombiAttendant with Footrest: Standard Combi Shower, Commode, and Indoor Transit Chair. The mobile Combi commode/shower chair is an assistive device allowing the user to sit down safely and comfortably during toileting or showering. It is supplied complete with toilet rails and can be used freestanding, with an optional bucket, or positioned over a toilet. Easy to move and maneuver in different settings and locations.

Decluttering and Using and Labels

One way to lessen the risk of falling is to keep the bathroom as clutter free as possible. Using totes, cabinets, and shelving goes a long way towards keeping things up and away from being a hazard. Labeling items using high contrast lettering, braille labeling, and having products in easy to use pump bottles makes finding what you need both easy and convenient. ILA offers several products that can be beneficial with keeping things easily accessible.

Low Vision Pens Sampler: If you know that you need a pen that creates a black, bold, heavy line that is easy to see, but you can’t decide which one to buy, order this sampler. It lets you test 4 pens with different thicknesses and drying characteristics. Included are: CAN-DO Low Vision, Sharpie, Pilot Bravo, and Liquid Expresso.

Braillable Labels: These ingenious little transparent hard plastic labels have room to Braille three lines. Each non-adhesive label has a hole in each end for the black elastic band peg to push through so that the label can be stretched around whatever you are marking. 50 labels and 50 elastic bands in a pack. Each label measures 4.75 inches by 1.5 inches.

WayClip Plastic Clips with tag: Use a clip tag with a rubber band or a hairband to attach a tag to all the bottles and vials in your bathroom(s). The WayAround product line is a combination of smartphone app and physical WayTags™ that allows you to tag and label nearly everything in your environment. Download the free app for either iPhone or Android onto your own smartphone. WayAround works with the accessibility settings on your phone. To hear your information spoken aloud, turn on VoiceOver or TalkBack.

Flooring, Lighting and Contrast

In addition to keeping the floor as clutter free as possible your choice of tile, rugs, and tub or shower liner are also key to preventing falls and accidents in the bathroom. Things to think about when choosing these type items are contrast in color with the things around it, nonskid bottom, and flooring or tile with texture. Smooth flooring is just asking for trouble when you add water into the mix.

Lighting is also an important safety feature to keep in mind. It may be necessary to have several different types of lights in various places in the bathroom. It might be beneficial to install extra lighting around the tub or shower. Having a light above the mirror also enables someone with vision issues to be better able to see things in and around the sink and counter. A lighted mirror by the sink could provide assistance with shaving or applying makeup. To learn more about lighting check out our previous previous blogs.

Contrast is something simple to consider but often times overlooked. The way colors and shapes work within the whole room can help deter potential fall risks. Examples of using contrast to your advantage is by having hand towels a different color from wash cloths or bath towels. In addition, the towels should contrast with both the wall and floor coloring to help with locating them when either hanging up or fallen on the floor.  Using a different colored toilet seat could help separate it from the colors around it. Using dark colored or striped toothpaste can help ensure you squeeze out just the right amount onto your toothbrush. If more than one person uses the bathroom you can also use different colored totes and/or different shaped containers to help keep personal items separated.

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Father’s Day is Coming: Gift Ideas for Three Different Types of Fathers

Father’s Day is coming on June 21st so now is the perfect time to be thinking about what to buy, create, or plan to celebrate the special father(s) in your life. This blog will look at three of the ten most common father types as described by The Star along with suggested ideas for that type. For a little added fun each section will also include some of tv’s most iconic dads that fit the type.

The Nostalgic Dad

“Back in my time” is the Nostalgic Dad’s favorite opening line. He likes dishing out advice and comparing how society and times have changed. Nostalgic Dads often have a well of amazing stories and lessons to share. He makes you appreciate how you now have a better life thanks to his perseverance and hard work.

Famous television fathers that fit this category include: Andy Taylor, a widower, father, and sheriff from “The Andy Griffith Show,” Howard Cunningham, business owner, lodge member, and family man from “Happy Days,” and John Walton Sr. a hard-working, industrious man who runs a small family sawmill on his property from “The Waltons.”

Gift ideas for the family man that falls into this category would be your more typical tried and true gifts. Some of these ideas include:

MedCenter System ™ Talking One Month Medication Organizer and Reminder: The MedCenter System was designed by two sons to ensure that their father took his medication regularly. He is doing so now and you will also when you use this system. 31 individual boxes, each with 4 pill compartments sit in a frame. The talking combination pill reminder timer with 4 alarms and talking clock, either beeps or speaks, “Please take your pills” when the alarm goes off.

TEK-PAL Simple TV Remote: The manufacturer states that the TEK-PAL is “designed to be the easiest to see and easiest to use TV remote control on the market”. This item is a universal remote, with only 6 large buttons with clear, black markings on them. The on/off is round, the mute is square and the volume up and volume down, channel up and channel down are triangles that point in the up or down direction, corresponding to their function.

The Handyman Dad

The Handyman Dad adopts a Do-It-Yourself approach and is able to fix everything. Maybe it has something to do with growing up in an era where making a phone call to the garage was harder without cellphones. These days you have someone for everything — plumber, electrician, technician — but old school dads will tell you that they were handyman extraordinaire in the house way before these jobs became mainstream.

Famous television fathers that fit this category include: Tim Taylor, the know-it-all father from “Home Improvement,” Dan Conner, the loving, drywall contractor from “Roseanne,” and Charles Ingalls, farmer, father, and fixer of problems both physical and emotional from “Little House on the Prairie.”

Gift ideas for the  handyman that falls into this category would be your more typical fixer upper type gifts. Some of these ideas include:

Talking Tape Measure:  A 16-foot standard metal tape measure that announces the measured length with an accuracy of .06 of an inch. Operates with memory mode, and can be used to measure consecutive distances that exceed its 16-foot length

Big Larry LED Flashlight: This BIG Larry™ LED Flashlight uses C.O.B. LED technology to produce 400 lumens of light or 160 lumens at a dimmed setting. It also has an intense emergency red flashing light mode which you can activate if ever needed. This red flashing light is ideal for roadside emergencies or distress signaling.

The Gadget-Obsessed Dad

He has the latest model and flashy upgrades to boot; putting your two-seasons-past phone to shame. The gadget-obsessed dad gets told off over dinner for always having his nose stuck in his tablet, even more frequently than the younger ones. They send dad-jokes, videos of cute animals and Internet memes. They are also known for their fondness of Candy Crush.

Famous iconic television fathers that fit this category include: Wayne Szalinski, the wacky inventor from “Honey I Shrunk the Kids,” Gomez Addams, a wealth retired lawyer of Castilian descent, who squanders money in a cavalier manner while remaining wealthy from “The Addams Family,” and Professor John Robinson, father and an astrophysicist who also specializes in applied planetary geology from “Lost in Space.”

Gift ideas for the father that falls into this category would be your more typical technological or “geeky” gifts. Some of these ideas include:

iPad Bluetooth Keypad – Yellow Keys Black Letters: The LogicKeyboard Bluetooth Mini Keyboard is the industry’s first large print Bluetooth keyboard designed for the Vision impaired and mature-aged Apple iPad and iPhone users. Now there is a way to type on a real keyboard with letters that are easy to see and locate. The mini keyboard is compact and light-to-carry with proven Bluetooth technology that can connect to any Bluetooth compatible device.

TV SoundBox Wireless TV Speaker: This portable and wireless SoundBox® speaker, produced by Serene Innovations, brings adjustable TV sound right in front of you or where ever you go within your home. Imagine taking your television sound with you to the kitchen when going for a snack or tending to your simmering dinner.

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Computer Accessibility for the Visually Impaired

Technology keeps advancing in leaps and bounds and what once seemed merely a dream now can accomplish with ease. Thanks to computer accessibility persons who once felt left out our behind can now participate on the same levels as their peers. This blog will look at the hardware, software, and future of computer accessibility for the visually impaired.

Hardware

Computer hardware includes the physical parts of a computer, such as the central processing unit (CPU), monitor, mouse, keyboard, graphics card, sound card, and speakers. This section will look at some common hardware items that ILA sells to enhance computer accessibility for the visually impaired.

LogicKeys L. P. Slim Line PC Keyboard: Large Print Keyboards offered by LogicKeys is perfect for those individuals who are having a hard time seeing the existing commands on their keyboards. By offering a bigger and bolder typeface, the keys become easier to see. These keyboards are designed to assist any user but are especially helpful for those with low vision.

Big Track Mouse Ball: The BIGtrack is a valuable tool for users who lack fine motor skills which a regular mouse requires. For example, if you have arthritis an ordinary mouse can be difficult to hold and keep the cursor in position whilst you click. The BIGtrack allows you to settle the cursor in position and then click easily without moving the cursor inadvertently. The giant yellow ball makes it easy to get the cursor to precisely where you want it and you can even do this with your foot or elbow!

LCD Magnifier & Filter For 19″ Screen: Hi-quality fresnel lenses that increase character size up to 2X. It is lightly tinged to enhance contrast. Easy to install by hanging the magnifier from the top of the monitor Dimensions are 19″ measures diagonally from top left corner to bottom right corner. Measurement across width of screen is 16″. The other two sizes available are for a 17” screen and a 15” screen.

Software

By contrast, software is the set of instructions that can be stored and run by hardware. Hardware is so termed because it is “hard” or rigid with respect to changes, whereas software is “soft” because it is easy to change. This section will highly various software that ILA sells to enhance ease of use for the blind or visually impaired consumer.

iZoom Magnifier/Reader on CD 6.0 Version: iZoom software enlarges images on your computer screen up to 36X.  You can also change screen and contrast colors, increase mouse size, realign web pages, and hear entire documents, emails and web pages spoken aloud.  Magnification features include font smoothing, locator enhancements, 8 different zooming modes, and floating windows to “lock” a portion of the screen.  Speech features include mouse echo, typing echo, narration, and speech controls. Speech can be in any of 17 languages, including Spanish.   IZoom is available in either a single install CD version, or a non-installing USB version which you can plug into any computer and use on the spot.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium Version 13.0: Just talk naturally to your computer, using the included microphone, and the words appear on the screen. Because it is fully integrated with WordPerfect and Word, the NaturallySpeaking commands are displayed right in the menu bar. Using voice only, the user can speak commands to proofread, revise and edit test or listen to and dictate e-mail. Switching between applications can be accomplished by telling the computer which program to open. The Spanish version is also available.

Typio Typing Tutor Software: Typio is an accessible typing tutor software program designed for teachers. For the student it has guided audio and large print instructions through the entire keyboard, with fun sound effects. For the teacher it has customizable practice lessons, individual student record keeping with detailed, printable reports, and the ability to review past lessons. Comes with 45 lessons which automatically save progress and advance only when the student meets their pre-set goals. Teachers can also create custom lessons.

The Future of Computer Accessibility

The future of technology uses the current knowledge base and expounds on it. Here are just two examples of things that are on the cutting edge to be the norm in the future.

3D Modeling: Stanford University is increasing access to 3D modeling through touch-based displays. With the goal of increasing access to making, engineers at Stanford University have collaborated with members of the blind and visually impaired community to develop a touch-based display that mimics the geometry of 3D objects designed on a computer. According to graduate student, Alexis Siu, “This project is about empowering a blind user to be able to design and create independently without relying on sighted mediators because that reduces creativity, agency and availability.”

The display is reminiscent of a pin art toy in that it forms shapes from a field of tall, rectangular pegs that move up and down. By inputting the specifications of their desired shape in the accompanying 3D modeling program, users can evaluate their creation via the touchable display. Whenever they alter the shape, they can command the display to render it anew. This tactile display is considered 2.5D rather than 3D because the bottom of the display does not change shape.

The researchers co-designed this system with people who are blind or visually impaired, a process that was integral to making it address the actual needs of its users. In the end, the team produced a system that can rotate a 3D model, zoom in and zoom out on an object, and show it in split sections – such as showing the top and bottom of a cup beside each other. Users can also feel the shape with multiple fingers or their whole hand, which enhances the information they can interpret from the display.

“The feedback we received showed that, even with this coarse display, we can still get meaningful interactions,” said Siu. “That suggests there’s a lot of potential in the future for this kind of system.”

HaptiRead: New Atlas reports on an ultrasound haptic system that projects readable Braille into thin air. For people who rely on Braille, reading displays and signs in public can be a challenge, but a new system could help make things easier. HaptiRead is a haptic feedback device that uses ultrasound pulses in precise patterns to reproduce Braille text in midair.

The HaptiRead system is a panel made up of 256 ultrasound transducers, emitting frequencies of up to 200 Hz – strong enough for a user to feel the pressure on their skin. This kind of technology has previously been put to work to create things like holograms you can touch.

But HaptiRead has an arguably more noble goal in mind. This device projects up to eight haptic points in the air as far as 70 cm (27.6 in) away, which can be arranged to represent different characters in the Braille alphabet.

A built-in Leap Motion depth-sensing camera figures out where a user’s hand is and directs the ultrasonic points towards it. That can help guide a user towards the device in the first place. Plus, there are no moving parts to clog up, and users do not need to actually touch a surface, removing hygiene issues. The system can also be set up to display more complex information, such as charts and graphics.

The team says there’s still much more testing and development to do, but this preliminary study shows that the HaptiRead technology has promise.

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