We Need Better Assistive Devices for AMD

June at 99

As Mom enters her 100th year,  I have some wishes for her to help her AMD and others suffering with this condition.

  1. A simple universal TV remove with no more than 3 or 4 buttons  – On/Off, volume, channel surf, and the biggest button of all – Favorites.
  2. Better text to speech devices. All of the ones we tried required a decent amount of holding the device steady, ensuring it was in focus and then pushing a button to snap a picture. Then they rarely can interpret all that is on the page if there are numbers, columns, or other non-text items.
  3. A simple phone simple to the above remote – On/Off, big buttons for saved phone numbers or voice commands, Volume/Speaker.  If I could program all her numbers into this device and then all she had to do is say, “Call Candy.” Life would be good. Yes, I know smartphones do this, but there’s a lot of other things to wade through to get to the voice commands. Basically, all I want is the Siri feature of the iPhone. That’s it. Nothing more. Keep it simple.
  4. A simple radio.
  5. A talking watch with batteries for the speech part that last more than 6 months. We’ve never been successful in getting these things to work beyond 6 months. I’ve had batteries replaced, but they also do not last and it’s difficult to find places that can even replace those batteries. we’ve bought three of these watches so far.
  6. A cure or at the very least a viable ay of implanting a device to help restore sight. We’re getting close, but still so far away.

That last wish is a bit personal.

This year, my vision, too began to fail because of cataracts. Fortunately, for me, my eye sight can be restored and already am through my first surgery with the second coming in a few weeks.

My current close call with blindness is being sidestepped with surgery. Cataracts used to cause blindness until the technology was invented to remove the cataract and implant a lens. The technology improves every year and the implants are spectacular!  But AMD is hereditary and I have a good chance of facing the same issues my mother has in a decade or two. So for Mom, for everyone now suffering from AMD, and those, like me, with a good chance of contracting it, let’s find a way to work for a cure and prevention.


iPads are not just cool, they also can help some with AMD keep in touch with the world

my mom with AMD using her iPad
my mom with AMD using her iPad
Mom using her iPad

Since my mother developed age-related macular degeneration (AMD), she has been trying everything to see. A $3,000 plus reading machine did not help her. In fact, she’s tried two of them. Handheld magnifiers help a bit, but can be exhausting. But one day we were sitting on the couch and she saw my iPhone.  She asked what it was and I told her it was my iPhone. I showed it to her, not really expecting that she’d be able to see it, but I thought she’d get a kick out of Siri. All of a sudden she said, “Why can I see this?”

 “If you can see this, you can probably see my iPad,”  I said.

I ran and got my iPad and she was in heaven.  Within a week we were at the Apple store buying her one. She can play solitaire, get her email, watch Netflix, keep track of her stock and watch her news stations and cable shows. Is it perfect? No, it’s not. But it is better than nearly anything else she’s tried, and unlike just helping her read documents, the iPad keeps her in touch with the world.

I wasn’t sure if this was an anomaly or not until I heard about a recent study presented as a poster at the  American Academy of Ophthalmology’s 2012 meeting that showed that backlit devices such as the iPad helped people with moderate vision loss such as age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) read more easily and comfortably. Continue reading “iPads are not just cool, they also can help some with AMD keep in touch with the world”