Coronavirus Information

Important Message

In light of the recent events regarding the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Vision Resource Center remains unwavering in its dedication to our Berks County communities. Please note we will be experiencing situations that may result in the rescheduling and/or cancellation of VRC activities and events. For up-to-date information related to Vision Resource Center schedules and events, please call 610-375-8407 or visit us on Facebook.

We encourage everyone to be educated regarding facts and information that are currently known. The Center for Disease Control provides the latest information on Coronavirus, including steps to prevent illness, what to do if you’re sick, and ways to keep your surroundings safe. Call your doctor or health professional immediately if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19. Visit https://www.cdc.gov/ for more information.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully known. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, a reportexternal icon out of China suggests serious illness occurs in 16% of cases. Older people and people of all ages with severe chronic medical conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. CDC has developed guidance to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposures to COVID-19.

  • Everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat:
    • Individuals and communities should familiarize themselves with recommendations to protect themselves and their communities from getting and spreading respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.
    • Older people and people with severe chronic conditions should take special precautions because they are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
    • If you are a healthcare provider, use your judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Factors to consider in addition to clinical symptoms may include:
      • Does the patient have recent travel from an affected area?
      • Has the patient been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 or with patients with pneumonia of unknown cause?
      • Does the patient reside in an area where there has been community spread of COVID-19?
    • If you are a healthcare provider or a public health responder caring for a COVID-19 patient, please take care of yourself and follow recommended infection control procedures.
    • If you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and develop symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider and tell them about your symptoms and your exposure. They will decide whether you need to be tested, but keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill are able to isolate at home.
    • If you are a resident in a community where there is ongoing spread of COVID-19 and you develop COVID-19 symptoms, call your healthcare provider and tell them about your symptoms. They will decide whether you need to be tested, but keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill are able to isolate at home.
  • For people who are ill with COVID-19, but are not sick enough to be hospitalized, please follow CDC guidance on how to reduce the risk of spreading your illness to others. People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness.
  • If you have been in China or another affected area or have been exposed to someone sick with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, you will face some limitations on your movement and activityPlease follow instructions during this time. Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing public health response to try to slow spread of this virus.

 

For additional information, please visit the following sites:

Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/

Pennsylvania Department of Health: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx

 

 

 

Insight on BCTV: Pennsylvania Braille Challenge

Mark Levengood discusses the first Pennsylvania Braille Challenge with Anna Ackley, Pennsylvania Regional Braille Challenge Coordinator. Watch March 2020’s BCTV’s Insight here…

View on BCTV.org

 

 

March is National Save Your Vision Month

National Save Your Vision Month

March is National Save Your Vision Month

Digital technology not only redefines how people interact with the world, but also how they see it, making it all the more important for the public to make smart eye care choices.

credit: American Optometric Association

That’s why the ’21st-century Eye’ is the focus of AOA’s Save Your Vision Month public awareness campaign throughout March, offering consumers a healthy reminder about eye health from the most authoritative source they know—their eye doctors.

Take advantage of Save Your Vision Month resources—such as promotional kits from Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation—to get your message heard.

3 considerations for the 21st-century eye

Below are three messages bound to resonate with an increasingly tech-conscious public that this year’s Save Your Vision Month campaign will reinforce:

  1. Give your eyes a break. An AOA survey found that 83 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 use an electronic device for more than three hours a day, while only 14 percent reported taking a visual break every 20 minutes. The AOA recommends the 20-20-20 rule to ward off digital eye strain: Take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes. And when it comes to digital devices, research indicates that blue light exposure could be doing some harm.
  2. Be a savvy shopper. Purchasing eyeglasses online may seem like a consumer convenience, but the AOA warns that the consequences of making an incorrect or uninformed purchase could cost patients more time and money in the long run. An AOA study published in 2011 with the Optical Laboratories Association and The Vision Council found nearly half of all glasses ordered online had either prescription errors or failed to meet minimum safety standards.
  3. Skip shortcuts. When it comes to the overall health and wellbeing of eyes, there is no substitute for a yearly, comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor. Mobile apps or online tests do not provide the appropriate accuracy or information when it comes to changes in eye and general health. Regular, comprehensive eye exams are one of the most important, preventive ways to preserve healthy eyes and save vision.

Jack Schaeffer, O.D., Optometry Cares board member, says the observance is a great chance to join a worthwhile national awareness campaign that benefits optometry.

“This is an opportunity to really educate as many people as we can, to start that word of mouth of, ‘hey, let’s take care of our eyes,'” Dr. Schaeffer says in an upcoming article about the campaign in the March edition of AOA Focus.

 

For more information, please talk with your eye professional.

Read the full AOA article

Beeping Egg Hunt Event

Please join Vision Resource Center of Berks County for a Beeping Egg Hunt, Easter Crafts, and Goodies!

When:  Saturday, April 4th from 1PM-3PM

Where:  VRC Headquarters 2020 Hampden Blvd., Reading, PA 19604

Siblings and family members welcome!

 

Please RSVP by Wednesday, March 18th to Lori at 610-375-8407 ext. 112 if you are able to attend, and the ages of those attending.

*All attendees must pre-register!

THANK YOU!!

VRC Fund Raiser Golf Tournament

Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Willow Hollow Golf Course
619 Prison Road, Leesport, PA 19533


Get your group together for an afternoon on the links to help support Vision Resource Center of Berks County!

Your Tournament Fee of $100 per person includes a round of golf with cart, lunch, snacks, beverages, dinner and dessert. There will be prizes awarded for winning foursomes in each of three flights and other awards given at the closing dinner. Entry is limited to the first 100 golfers. Enter early to reserve your spot! Tournament is limited to the first 100 golfers.

Ready to Golf? Get your registration form now. Would you like to be a sponsor? Get the sponsorship form.

Want more info? Please call 610-375-8407.

The Tournament starts out with Registration and Lunch at noon followed by a Shotgun Start at 1 p.m. with Dinner and Awards following.

Sponsorship opportunities are available. Call 610-375-8407 to find out more information.

 

Your generosity helps fuel the continued efforts of  VRC to provide services, programs and education opportunities for those in need. For more information of services and how you can continue to make a difference, please view The White Cane Fund HERE.

 

 

Insight on BCTV: Milestone Anniversaries with Visual Impairment

Mark Levengood talks about milestone anniversaries with a visual impairment with Sherm and Gloria Barto, who recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Sherm is a VRC client and board member and his wife is sighted. Watch February 2020’s BCTV’s Insight here…

View on BCTV.org

 

 

Vision and Hearing Expo

Thursday, April 30, 2020
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Crowne Plaza, Reading

 

brought to you by our Event Sponsor, Wells Fargo, NA

 

 

 

 

featuring live radio coverage by Mike Faust with WEEU’s Feedback Talk Show, sponsored by Berks Optometric Society

and educational topics and seminars underwritten by Berks ENT

 

Join us on Thursday, April 30, 2020 at Crowne Plaza Reading for Vision and Hearing Expo, Berks County’s one stop vision and hearing event. Vision and Hearing Expo is Berks County’s premier experience for brand new and exciting vision and hearing focused trends and technologies. Throughout the day, educational seminars and hands-on demonstrations related to low vision management, hearing loss, caregiver understanding and more will be offered. Vision and Hearing Expo is for you, your family members, friends, caregivers and anyone who wants insight regarding hearing and vision services, technologies and education related to all aspects of hearing and vision.

Admission and parking are all free. Don’t miss out on this opportunity of the year!

 

Vision and Hearing Professionals and Product Vendors, there are limited spots still available!

Are you interested in meeting potential clients face-to-face? We have some great spaces still available! This is a wonderful opportunity to share your products, practice, innovations and knowledge base with the Berks County (and beyond) Vision and Hearing related communities. Download the Booth and Sponsorship form HERE and contact Carolyn Krick at ckrick@vrcberks.org for additional information and reservations. Hurry, spots are limited! If you know a business or medical practice that would be interested in sharing their services and products, you can download and share the printable General Info flyer HERE.

 

February is AMD and Low Vision Awareness Month

Low Vision Awareness

February is AMD and Low Vision Awareness Month

Perhaps you have just learned that you or a loved one has age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD. If you are like many people, you probably do not know a lot about the condition or understand what is going on inside your eyes.

credit: National Eye Institute

AMD is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. It causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision, which lets us see objects that are straight ahead.

In some people, AMD advances so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a long time. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes. As AMD progresses, a blurred area near the center of vision is a common symptom. Over time, the blurred area may grow larger or you may develop blank spots in your central vision. Objects also may not appear to be as bright as they used to be.

AMD by itself does not lead to complete blindness, with no ability to see. However, the loss of central vision in AMD can interfere with simple everyday activities, such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, write, or do close work, such as cooking or fixing things around the house.

Who is at risk?

Age is a major risk factor for AMD. The disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but it can occur earlier. Other risk factors for AMD include:

  • Smoking. Research shows that smoking doubles the risk of AMD.
  • Race. AMD is more common among Caucasians than among African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
  • Family history and Genetics. People with a family history of AMD are at higher risk. At last count, researchers had identified nearly 20 genes that can affect the risk of developing AMD. Many more genetic risk factors are suspected.
    You may see offers for genetic testing for AMD. Because AMD is influenced by so many genes plus environmental factors such as smoking and nutrition, there are currently no genetic tests that can diagnose AMD, or predict with certainty who will develop it.
    The American Academy of Ophthalmology (link is external) currently recommends against routine genetic testing for AMD, and insurance generally does not cover such testing.

Does lifestyle make a difference?

Researchers have found links between AMD and some lifestyle choices, such as smoking. You might be able to reduce your risk of AMD or slow its progression by making these healthy choices:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish

How is AMD detected?

The early and intermediate stages of AMD usually start without symptoms. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect AMD. The eye exam may include the following:

  • Visual acuity test. This eye chart measures how well you see at distances.
  • Dilated eye exam. Your eye care professional places drops in your eyes to widen or dilate the pupils. This provides a better view of the back of your eye. Using a special magnifying lens, he or she then looks at your retina and optic nerve for signs of AMD and other eye problems.
  • Amsler grid. Your eye care professional also may ask you to look at an Amsler grid. Changes in your central vision may cause the lines in the grid to disappear or appear wavy, a sign of AMD.
  • Fluorescein angiogram. In this test, which is performed by an ophthalmologist, a fluorescent dye is injected into your arm. Pictures are taken as the dye passes through the blood vessels in your eye. This makes it possible to see leaking blood vessels, which occur in a severe, rapidly progressive type of AMD (see below). In rare cases, complications to the injection can arise, from nausea to more severe allergic reactions.
  • Optical coherence tomography. You have probably heard of ultrasound, which uses sound waves to capture images of living tissues. OCT is similar except that it uses light waves, and can achieve very high-resolution images of any tissues that can be penetrated by light—such as the eyes. After your eyes are dilated, you’ll be asked to place your head on a chin rest and hold still for several seconds while the images are obtained. The light beam is painless.

During the exam, your eye care professional will look for drusen, which are yellow deposits beneath the retina. Most people develop some very small drusen as a normal part of aging. The presence of medium-to-large drusen may indicate that you have AMD.

Another sign of AMD is the appearance of pigmentary changes under the retina. In addition to the pigmented cells in the iris (the colored part of the eye), there are pigmented cells beneath the retina. As these cells break down and release their pigment, your eye care professional may see dark clumps of released pigment and later, areas that are less pigmented. These changes will not affect your eye color.

For more information, please talk with your eye professional.

Read the full NEI article

 

Insight on BCTV: Questions You’ve Always Had for the Visually Impaired

Mark Levengood addresses questions you’ve always had for the visually impaired, but were either reluctant to ask for fear of being offensive, or never had the opportunity. With Lori Schermerhorn, president and CEO of the VRC. Watch January 2020’s BCTV’s Insight here…

View on BCTV.org

 

 

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

Glaucoma… The Leading Cause of Preventable Blindness

Story Credit: Glaucoma Research Foundation

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, an important time to spread the word about this sight stealing disease.

 

Currently, more than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma. The National Eye Institute projects this number will reach 4.2 million by 2030, a 58 percent increase.Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight” since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it’s permanent. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing.Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Moreover, among African American and Latino populations, glaucoma is more prevalent. Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.Over 3 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don’t raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind due to glaucoma.

Help Raise Awareness

father-son-talking_290.jpg

Talk to your family about glaucoma.

In the United States, approximately 120,000 are blind from glaucoma, accounting for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness. Here are three ways you can help raise awareness:

  1. Talk to friends and family about glaucoma. If you have glaucoma, don’t keep it a secret. Let your family members know.
  2. Refer a friend to our web site, www.glaucoma.org.
  3. Request to have a free educational booklet sent to you or a friend.
  4. Get involved in your community through fundraisers, information sessions, group discussions, inviting expert speakers, and more.

Connect with us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for regular updates on glaucoma research, treatments, news and information. Share information about glaucoma with your friends and family.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning. Although the most common forms primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, glaucoma can affect people of all ages.

Vision loss is caused by damage to the optic nerve. This nerve acts like an electric cable with over a million wires. It is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain.

There is no cure for glaucoma—yet. However, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma among other factors. Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease.

Watch a video from the research scientists working to find a cure.

Types of Glaucoma

There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), and angle-closure glaucoma. These are marked by an increase of intraocular pressure (IOP), or pressure inside the eye. When optic nerve damage has occurred despite a normal IOP, this is called normal tension glaucoma.

Secondary glaucoma refers to any case in which another disease causes or contributes to increased eye pressure, resulting in optic nerve damage and vision loss.

Read more about Types of Glaucoma.

Regular Eye Exams are Important

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization. In the most common form, there are virtually no symptoms. Vision loss begins with peripheral or side vision, so if you have glaucoma, you may not notice anything until significant vision is lost.

The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to get a comprehensive eye examination. Then, if you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans. And among Hispanics in older age groups, the risk of glaucoma is nearly as high as that for African-Americans. Also, siblings of persons diagnosed with glaucoma have a significantly increased risk of having glaucoma.

Read about Glaucoma Eye Exams.

Risk Factors

Are you at risk for glaucoma? Those at higher risk include people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent. Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted. Regular eye exams are especially important for those at higher risk for glaucoma, and may help to prevent unnecessary vision loss.

Help Us Find a Cure

Glaucoma Research Foundation is a national non-profit organization funding innovative research to preserve vision and find a cure for glaucoma. Gifts of every size make a difference. Donate today.


About Glaucoma Research Foundation: The Glaucoma Research Foundation is a national non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for glaucoma. Founded in 1978 in San Francisco, the organization funds glaucoma research world-wide. Learn more about Glaucoma Research Foundation.