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Early Diagnosis Is Key to Saving Vision
By Louis A. Lobes, Jr., M.D.

Louis A. Lobes, Jr.A recent article in the journal, JAMA Ophthalmology, reminds us that severe vision loss is far more common than most of us realize.

In the United States, more than a million persons over the age 45 are legally blind and 3.8 million suffer from permanently reduced vision of 20/40 or worse. Each year, we add a 100,000 persons who are legally blind to this group and half a million with vision of 20/40 or worse.  

At Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services, our first objective is to educate individuals on the importance of annual eye exams beginning at the age of 40.   In addition, to help to meet the challenges associated with permanently reduced vision or blindness, our commitment at BVRS is to provide the most advanced technological and rehabilitative programs, leading our clients to achieve personal independence and live the most meaningful life they can.
We also know that the major causes of vision loss for adults in the U.S. are age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.  For children it includes strabismus and amblyopia.

The leading causes of blindness in those 45 years of age and older are all treatable to some degree and it is established medical science that early diagnosis and treatment leads to less vision loss from these diseases, even when the disease cannot be cured.

Our team at BVRS recognizes that because these diseases are treatable, we have a responsibility to work to reduce this large burden of visual loss. Our approach is two pronged.  We are promoting and urging that routine eye examinations become an integral part of any annual health care plan. In addition, BVRS performs free vision screening tests to more than 15,000 preschool aged children in Allegheny County each year. These screenings uncover hundreds eye issues in children that may have gone untreated until their first or second year of schooling. This awareness allows the parents to get them proper treatment early on in the disease process potential reducing permanent vision loss.

Providing the most advanced rehabilitative programs for our clients, both those legally blind and those with low vision, and promoting the necessity of regular eye examinations throughout our lifetime are the cornerstones of the BVRS mission. We look forward to continuing this hard work at the highest level achievable, for the people of Western Pennsylvania.

Louis A. Lobes, Jr., M.D., a board certified ophthalmologist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is board chairperson of Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh. BVRS, a 107-year-old nonprofit is a leader in programs and services for people of all ages who are blind, vision impaired, or have other disabilities. The agency’s mission is improve the lives of person with vision loss and related disabilities by teaching independence and self-advocacy. 

BVRS offers comprehensive and personalized computer instruction, low vision rehabilitation, employment services, personal adjustment to blindness training, in-home instruction, vision screenings for children, and an industrial employment program. Employment support services also are offered in Fayette, Greene, and Washington counties, and vision screening and transportation services are available in Somerset County. BVRS is accredited by the National Accreditation Council for Blind and Low Vision Services (NAC).

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