Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

(See the end of this page for subscribing via email, RSS, browsing articles by subject, blog archive, APH resources, writing for Fred's Head, and disclaimers.)


Thursday, August 31, 2006

Listen to Your DVDs

Do you have family members with DVD recorders? Do they love to record every family event and show it on their DVD players? All you need is the audio to remember that event, here's how you can get exactly what you want. >If you're looking for a program to extract audio from dvd's, this subject came up on some mailing lists recently, here's two programs that can help.

The first is Dvd Audio Extractor from

The other program is IM2 from

Both programs offer a 30 day evaluation period and then require an unlock code to continue their use.

Need to See a Doctor?

The Bureau of Primary Health Care, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has developed a website that will help you find a clinic that will give you medical care, even if you have no medical insurance or money.

The website will provide the address and contact information for clinics that offer the following types of care:

  • Primary Medical
  • Obstetrical and Gynecological
  • Dental
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Care
  • Other Types of Medical and Support Services

To find a clinic: Choose your state from the drop-down box or enter a zip code in the box provided. The search will return clinics in the Zip Code you picked and others close to it.

Click this link to find a medical clinic near you.

FirstGov for Kids

The U.S. government interagency Kids' Portal is a great place for your children or students to explore the great websites the internet has to offer.

The site was developed and is maintained by the Federal Citizen Information Center. It provides links to Federal kids' sites along with some of the best kids' sites from other organizations all grouped by subject.

The site is divided into educational subjects that you might have in your school. Within each subject, we have also divided the sites into these categories:

  • Government
  • Organizations
  • Education
  • Commercial

The Government sites could be Federal, State, or Military sites. Government sites generally do not sell anything. They are simply sharing information with visitors. Organization sites are developed by groups that have an interest in a special topic and they want to share their information. Sometimes these sites do sell products. Education sites are developed by schools. They can be developed by colleges/universities or high, middle, or elementary schools. These sites usually do not have products to sell. Commercial sites are developed by businesses. Commercial sites share information, but they also have products to sell.

Click this link to visit FirstGov for Kids:

The Corn Zipper

The Kuhn Rikon Corn Zipper "unzips" kernels from the cob cleanly and effortlessly. This unique tool has sharp teeth that cut between kernels and cobs, removing 2 rows of kernels at once - neatly into a bowl.

Features include:

  • Zips kernels cleanly off the cob
  • Kernels drop directly into your bowl
  • Zips kernels safely off the cob
  • Safer than using a knife
  • 7-inches in length.

I could have used this last night as I stripped corn for a salad. Plus, it has a face. Shouldn't all your kitchen gadgets have a face?

Click this link to purchase the Corn Zipper from

Guild for the Blind

The Guild for the Blind believes that children and adults who are blind or visually impaired have the right to receive respect and attain independence at home, in the workplace, and in the community. They have a variety of services that help blind and visually impaired individuals reach personal goals and improve their lives.

The Guild's adult rehabilitation services include a program geared towards seniors experiencing new vision loss called New Visions. This program promotes independence within the home and community by providing participants with the information, techniques, and tools they need to successfully adjust to their new lives with impaired sight. Two workshop series are available to beginners or to those ready for more advanced topics.

A staff training program designed to teach long-term care facility personnel how to more effectively interact and assist those with vision impairments is available throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. Dealing with the issues of safety, communication, and independence -- as well as information regarding low vision techniques, services and products -- is shared in a supportive environment to facilitate better communication, understanding, and outcomes for those they serve.

The Guild's Judi Jasek Low Vision Lab is open to anyone wishing to learn more about assistive devices such as hand-held magnifiers and closed-circuit televisions. All products are available for the general public to have a hands-on demonstration of what is available before deciding on a purchase. Individual assistance is offered to ensure that the devices are used properly and are the best to suit personal needs.

Computer training is offered through small group classes, individual instruction, or through the Darlene Schwartz Tutorial Training Program for those who wish to learn at their own pace. Classes range from introductory instruction for those new to adaptive technology (such as JAWS or ZoomText) to more specific topics such as Microsoft Word or the Internet.

Employment Connection is the Guild's career readiness program that provides participants with the knowledge, tools, and self-confidence they need to compete in today's market place for the career of their choice. Individualized programs are supplemented with group workshops, work project opportunities to develop business skills, and career counseling to address issues specific to each participant.

The Guild provides information pertaining to a myriad of issues facing the blind and visually impaired community. Their database and "Guild Briefs" newsletter are continuously updated with resources for those who have vision loss, those that support them, and the professionals in the field of vision loss who serve them.

Guild for the Blind
180 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60601-7463
Phone: 312-236-8569
Fax: 312-236-8128

Macular Degeneration International

Macular Degeneration International is a support organization for The Foundation Fighting Blindness which combines the strength of The Foundation's research mission to find treatments and cures for Macular Degeneration with MDI's mission to help people lead independent and rewarding lives. In addition to funding research, The Foundation produces

comprehensive patient education materials for Macular Degeneration and related diseases. With their complementary strengths, MDI and The Foundation can better serve its constituents.

Members of MDI will receive The Foundation's newsletters filled with information about research and clinical trials for Macular Degeneration. MDI will contribute to The Foundation's newsletters with low-vision information.

For more information on Macular Degeneration, click this link to visit The Foundation Fighting Blindness at or email them at They also offer a Toll Free Helpline at 800-683-5555.

Click this link to visit the Macular Degeneration International website:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How To Download Files Using a Screen Reader

If you're new to computing, there's a lot about your computer that you're not familiar with. Perhaps you're only able to write a letter in your word processor but you know your PC is capable of so much more.

One of the best things about having a computer and a high speed internet connection is having the ability to download files, whether they're games, applications, whatever. Follow these instructions and you'll be downloading in minutes. Anyone can use these instructions but they were primarily written for people using a screen reader.

  1. Open your browser and go to a web site containing files you'd like to download.

  2. Find a file to download and click the title if it's a link or find an associated link that says something like Download or Download Now.

  3. The dialogue box will appear with the option to Save. Click on the Save button. Another dialogue box will then appear.

  4. You'll see several options here. First, the filename. Make sure this is what you want. If you're using a screen reader, hit tab.

  5. Now you'll be on the filetype box. Most of the time, you can leave this alone. If you're downloading an application, this box will say application.

  6. Hit tab again and you'll be on the save button. If you know exactly where that file is going to be saved, go ahead and click or press enter on it. If you're not sure, hit tab again and you'll land on the cancel button.

  7. If you wanted to cancel the download, this is the button to use. If you want to continue, press tab again.

  8. Now you'll be on the save in box. Use your arrow keys to select a drive to save the file to. You may wish to save to the (C:) drive or directly to your desktop. Once you've made your selection, press tab.

  9. Below the Save In box is a box that contains various files and folders. These are files that are stored on your C: drive. If you want to save this file in a particular folder, you can choose it here. If you want it to go directly to your C: drive, simply press tab.
  10. This will bring you back to the filename box. If you're satisfied with all your selections, press enter to begin the download.

  11. A status window will appear. Once the download is finished, you'll see a message that says "Download Complete" and you'll have the option to open the file or folder containing the file you downloaded or the option to close the status window.

    (Note: The status window also includes a check-box that says "Close When Download Complete". If this box is checked off, the status window will automatically close when the download is finished, in which case you'll have to use Windows Explorer to double-check if the file downloaded correctly. If the box is unchecked, then the status window will remain open.

Publishers Launch Look-Up Service to Speed Delivery of Course Materials to Print-Disabled Students

Higher education publisher members of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) have launched a Publisher Look-Up Service. The online search tool, found at, will enable Disabled Student Services (DSS) professionals who are seeking text materials in alternate formats for print-disabled students to more easily contact publishers.

The Publisher Look-Up Service is a first step in AAP's Alternative Formats Solutions Initiative (AFSI), a national effort to identify ways to provide print-disabled post-secondary students with specially formatted course materials on a timely basis. AFSI research showed that publishers could make an immediate difference by launching the Publisher Look-Up Service, while still exploring longer-term solutions.

DSS offices at post-secondary institutions can search by textbook publisher or publisher imprint to access general information about the publishing company and appropriate contact information. Once provided with this information, DSS offices typically work with publishers to acquire an electronic version of a textbook to provide to print-disabled students.

Publishers-AAP members and non-members-are encouraged to secure a login from AAP that enables them to directly upload, edit, and update company information on the site. To request a login, send a message to

Click this link to visit

Producing Braille and Audio Graphs of Mathematical Equations

Graphit is a graphing calculator program you can use in conjunction with a braille embosser to produce braille graphs of mathematical equations. It isn't a hand-held graphing calculator, but for anyone who is looking for a quick and easy way to enable blind students to see graphical representations of an equation, this is a solution.

Graphit features one command Braille output of graphs from typed complex equations. Graphit also provides an audio representation of the graph on your speech synthesizer through a single keystroke. Other features include:

  • Control the size and specific information contained in the graph.
  • Supports algebraic, trigonometric, exponential and logarithmic equations.
  • Menu driven interface for easy setup and use.
  • Support for Blazer, VersaPoint Duo and Inferno embossers, among others.
  • For use with IBM Compatible PCs (with Graph It PC only) and Freedom Scientific notetakers with the exception of the Braille Lite M20 and M40.

Freedom Scientific Blind/Low Vision Group
11800 31st Court North
St. Petersburg, FL 33716
Toll Free: 800-444-4443
Phone: 727-803-8000
Fax: 727-803-8001

NASA Converts Graphs into Sound

NASA has released an innovative Open Source software suite that may forever change how blind and vision-impaired users "see" complex graphs.

The Math Description Engine Software Development Kit at is a reusable software library that generates text, sound and visual representations of graphs found in both math and science applications.

Visually-impaired computer users access these alternative text and sound descriptions through the use of a screen reader and standard computer speakers.

The software determines the key characteristics of a graph "on the fly." Using this determination, it builds natural-language text descriptions that enable visually-impaired users to view spatial relationships through sound alone.

Designed with both flexibility and ease-of-use in mind, the SDK (Software Development Kit) allows web and software developers to adapt the MDE's graph descriptions to a variety of applications. Some key audiences who might benefit from the MDE SDK include, but are not limited to:

  • developers of education products and support tools
  • special needs education researchers
  • assistive technology researchers and vendors
  • the accessible-web community
  • sonification researchers
  • organizations with websites containing graphical data displays.

The MDE software library was created by NASA's Information Accessibility Lab (IAL), under the direction of Dr. Robert O. Shelton, a blind mathematician. The IAL's mission is to develop technologies that increase accessibility to NASA's vast library of outreach products and to release these same technologies to the public for further application and development.

The MDE SDK is currently available for download under an Open Source license. Click this link to visit the NASA site to learn more about the program and how you can play an integral role in developing the future of accessible graphing technology.

To learn more about the MDE SDK or MathTrax, please email Terry Hodgson at

Tunnel Vision: What is it?

About one in 200 Americans over age 55 suffers from tunnel vision, as a result of diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and glaucoma. RP can begin to affect vision in one's teen years and may become quite severe tunnel vision by middle age.

Residual tunnel vision occurs when peripheral or side vision is destroyed, leaving only a small window of central vision. The field of view of these people can be like looking through the tube of a roll of paper towels. Thus, tunnel vision can often cause the individual to bump into or trip over obstacles. Navigating city streets or buildings can be quite challenging. For a person with tunnel vision, finding a misplaced item is like searching for a key in a dark room using a tiny flashlight.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What is a Macular Hole?

A macular hole is a small break in the macula, located in the center of the eye's light-sensitive tissue called the retina. The macula provides the sharp, central vision we need for reading, driving, and seeing fine detail.

A macular hole can cause blurred and distorted central vision. Macular holes are related to aging and usually occur in people over age 60.

Most of the eye's interior is filled with vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills about 80 percent of the eye and helps it maintain a round shape. The vitreous contains millions of fine fibers that are attached to the surface of the retina. As we age, the vitreous slowly shrinks and pulls away from the retinal surface. Natural fluids fill the area where the vitreous has contracted. This is normal. In most cases, there are no adverse effects. Some patients may experience a small increase in floaters, which are little "cobwebs" or specks that seem to float about in your field of vision.

However, if the vitreous is firmly attached to the retina when it pulls away, it can tear the retina and create a macular hole. Also, once the vitreous has pulled away from the surface of the retina, some of the fibers can remain on the retinal surface and can contract. This increases tension on the retina and can lead to a macular hole. In either case, the fluid that has replaced the shrunken vitreous can then seep through the hole onto the macula, blurring and distorting central vision.

Macular holes can also occur from eye disorders, such as high myopia (nearsightedness), macular pucker, and retinal detachment; eye disease, such diabetic retinopathy and Best's disease; and injury to the eye.

Macular holes often begin gradually. In the early stage of a macular hole, people may notice a slight distortion or blurriness in their straight-ahead vision. Straight lines or objects can begin to look bent or wavy. Reading and performing other routine tasks with the affected eye become difficult.

Click this link to learn more about Macular Holes from the National Eye Institute website.

Facts About Floaters

The following article comes from the National Eye Institute website:

Floaters are little "cobwebs" or specks that float about in your field of vision. They are small, dark, shadowy shapes that can look like spots, thread-like strands, or squiggly lines. They move as your eyes move and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly. They do not follow your eye movements precisely, and usually drift when your eyes stop moving.

In most cases, floaters are part of the natural aging process and simply an annoyance. They can be distracting at first, but eventually tend to "settle" at the bottom of the eye, becoming less bothersome. They usually settle below the line of sight and do not go away completely. Most people have floaters and learn to ignore them; they are usually not noticed until they become numerous or more prominent. Floaters can become apparent when looking at something bright, such as white paper or a blue sky.

Floaters occur when the vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills about 80 percent of the eye and helps it maintain a round shape, slowly shrinks. As the vitreous shrinks, it becomes somewhat stringy, and the strands can cast tiny shadows on the retina. These are floaters.

Floaters are more likely to develop as we age and are more common in people who are very nearsighted, have diabetes, or who have had a cataract operation. There are other, more serious causes of floaters, including infection, inflammation (uveitis), hemorrhaging, retinal tears, and injury to the eye.

Sometimes a section of the vitreous pulls the fine fibers away from the retina all at once, rather than gradually, causing many new floaters to appear suddenly. This is called a vitreous detachment, which in most cases is not sight-threatening and requires no treatment. However, a sudden increase in floaters, possibly accompanied by light flashes or peripheral (side) vision loss, could indicate a retinal detachment. A retinal detachment occurs when any part of the retina, the eye's light-sensitive tissue, is lifted or pulled from its normal position at the back wall of the eye. A retinal detachment is a serious condition and should always be considered an emergency. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent visual impairment within two or three days or even blindness in the eye. Those who experience a sudden increase in floaters, flashes of light in peripheral vision, or a loss of peripheral vision should have an eye care professional examine their eyes as soon as possible.

For people who have floaters that are simply annoying, no treatment is recommended. On rare occasions, floaters can be so dense and numerous that they significantly affect vision. In these cases, a vitrectomy, a surgical procedure that removes floaters from the vitreous, may be needed. A vitrectomy removes the vitreous gel, along with its floating debris, from the eye. The vitreous is replaced with a salt solution. Because the vitreous is mostly water, you will not notice any change between the salt solution and the original vitreous. This operation carries significant risks to sight because of possible complications, which include retinal detachment, retinal tears, and cataract. Most eye surgeons are reluctant to recommend this surgery unless the floaters seriously interfere with vision.

Click this link to learn more about vision and sight loss at the National Eye Institute's website:

Monday, August 28, 2006

Eye Care Facts and Myths

We have all been told by someone at some time, "You'll hurt your eyes if you do that!" But do you really know what is or is not good for your eyes?

Test yourself with the following true or false statements and see how much you know about your eyes. Courtesy of the Medem Medical Library.

  1. "Reading in dim light is harmful to your eyes." True or False?

    False. Using your eyes in dim light does not damage them. For centuries, all nighttime reading and sewing was done by candlelight or with gas or kerosene lamps. However, good lighting does make reading easier and can prevent eye fatigue.

  2. "Using computers can damage your eyes." True or False?

    False. Working on computers or video display terminals (VDTs) will not harm your eyes. Often, when using a VDT for long periods of time, just as when reading or doing other close work, you blink less often than normal. This reduced rate of blinking makes your eyes dry, which may lead to the feeling of eyestrain or fatigue. Try to take regular breaks to look up or across the room. Looking at objects farther away often relieves the feeling of strain on your eyes. Keep the monitor between 18 to 24 inches from your face and at a slight downward angle. Also consider the use of artificial tears. If your vision blurs or your eyes tire easily, you should have your eyes examined by an ophthalmologist.

  3. "Wearing the wrong kind of eyeglasses damages your eyes." True or False?

    False. Eyeglasses are devices used to sharpen your vision. Although correct eyeglasses or contacts help you to see clearly, wearing a pair with the wrong lenses, or not wearing glasses at all, will not physically damage your eyes. However, children younger than 8 years old who need eyeglasses should wear their own prescription to prevent the possibility of developing amblyopia or "lazy eye."

  4. "Children outgrow crossed or misaligned eyes." True or False?

    False. Children do not outgrow crossed eyes. A child whose eyes are misaligned may develop poor vision in one eye because the brain will "turn off" or ignore the image from the misaligned or lazy eye. The unused or misaligned eye will not develop good vision unless it is forced to work, usually by patching the stronger eye.

    Children who appear to have misaligned eyes should be examined by an ophthalmologist. In general, the earlier misaligned eyes are treated, the better. Treatment may include patching, eyeglasses, eye drops, surgery or a combination of these methods.

  5. "Learning disabilities are caused by eye problems." True or False?

    False. Difficulties with reading, mathematics and other learning problems in children are often referred to as learning disabilities. There is no strong evidence that vision problems cause learning disabilities or that eye exercises cure learning problems.

    Children with learning difficulties often need help from teachers and people with special training. Before such treatment begins, it is important for the child to have a complete medical eye examination to make certain he or she is seeing as well as possible.

  6. "Sitting close to the television can damage children's eyes." True or False?

    False. Children can focus at close distance without eyestrain better than adults. They often develop the habit of holding reading materials close to their eyes or sitting right in front of the television. There is no evidence that this damages their eyes, and the habit usually diminishes as children grow older. Children with nearsightedness (myopia) sometimes sit close to the television in order to see the images more clearly.

  7. "Eating carrots improves your vision." True or False?

    False. Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which is essential for sight, but many other foods also contain this vitamin. A well-balanced diet, with or without carrots, provides all the vitamin A necessary for good vision.

  8. "People with weak eyes should avoid reading fine print." True or False?

    False. It is said that people with weak eyes or people who wear glasses will "wear out" their eyes sooner if they read fine print or do a lot of detail work.

    The concept of the eye as a muscle is incorrect. The eye more closely resembles a camera. A camera will not wear out sooner just because it is used to photograph intricate detail. You can use your eyes without fear of wearing them out.

  9. "Wearing eyeglasses will cause you to become dependent on them." True or False?

    False. Eyeglasses are used to correct blurry vision. Since clear vision with eyeglasses is preferable to uncorrected vision, you may find that you want to wear your eyeglasses more often. Although it may feel as if you are becoming dependent on your eyeglasses, you are actually just getting used to seeing clearly.

  10. "Older people who gain 'second sight' may be developing cataracts."

    True. Older individuals who wear reading eyeglasses sometimes find themselves able to read without their eyeglasses and think their eyesight is improving.

    The truth is they are becoming more nearsighted, which can be a sign of early cataract development.

  11. "A cataract must be 'ripe' before it is removed." True or False?

    False. With older surgical techniques, it was thought to be safer to remove a cataract when it was "ripe." With today's modern surgical procedures, a cataract can be removed whenever it begins to interfere with a person's lifestyle.

    If you are unable to see well enough to do the things you like or need to do, you should consider cataract surgery. Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract.

  12. "Contact lenses can prevent nearsightedness from getting worse." True or False?

    False. Some people have been led to believe that wearing contact lenses will permanently correct nearsightedness so that eventually they won't need either contacts or eyeglasses.

    There is no evidence that wearing contact lenses produces a permanent improvement in vision or prevents nearsightedness from getting worse.

  13. "Eyes can be transplanted." True or False?

    False. Medical science has no way to transplant whole eyes. Our eyes are connected to the brain by the optic nerve.

    Much like a fiber optic cable, the optic nerve is made up of more than one million tiny nerve fibers. This nerve cannot be reconnected once it has been severed. Because of this, the eye is never removed from its socket during surgery.

    The cornea, the clear front part of the eye, has been successfully transplanted for many years. Corneal transplant is sometimes confused with an eye transplant.

  14. "All 'eye doctors' are the same." True or False?

    False. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (M.D. or D.O.) with special training to diagnose and treat all diseases of the eye.

    To become an ophthalmologist requires a minimum of eight years of medical school and hospital training after college. An ophthalmologist is qualified to provide all aspects of eye care, including cataract, laser and other eye surgery.

    Optometrists (O.D.) and opticians are other types of eye care professionals. They are trained and licensed to provide some aspects of eye care, but they are not medical doctors and have not attended medical school and residency training. In most states, they cannot prescribe all medications or perform surgery.

© Copyright 2004 American Association of Ophthalmology. All rights reserved.

Refractive Errors of the Eye

About 120 million people in the United States wear eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, or stigmatism. These vision disorders--called refractive errors-- affect the cornea and are the most common of all vision problems in this country.

Refractive errors occur when the curve of the cornea is irregularly shaped (too steep or too flat). When the cornea is of normal shape and curvature, it bends, or refracts, light on the retina with precision. However, when the curve of the cornea is irregularly shaped, the cornea bends light imperfectly on the retina. This affects good vision. The refractive process is similar to the way a camera takes a picture. The cornea and lens in your eye act as the camera lens. The retina is similar to the film. If the image is not focused properly, the film (or retina) receives a blurry image. The image that your retina "sees" then goes to your brain, which tells you what the image is.

When the cornea is curved too much, or if the eye is too long, faraway objects will appear blurry because they are focused in front of the retina. This is called myopia, or nearsightedness. Myopia affects over 25 percent of all adult Americans.

Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is the opposite of myopia. Distant objects are clear, and close-up objects appear blurry. With hyperopia, images focus on a point beyond the retina. Hyperopia results from an eye that is too short.

Astigmatism is a condition in which the uneven curvature of the cornea blurs and distorts both distant and near objects. A normal cornea is round, with even curves from side to side and top to bottom. With astigmatism, the cornea is shaped more like the back of a spoon, curved more in one direction than in another. This causes light rays to have more than one focal point and focus on two separate areas of the retina, distorting the visual image. Two-thirds of Americans with myopia also have astigmatism.

Refractive errors are usually corrected by eyeglasses or contact lenses. Although these are safe and effective methods for treating refractive errors, refractive surgeries are becoming an increasingly popular option.

Article Source:

Eye Health Organizations Database

The National Eye Institute has created an eye health organizations database. This tool can help you find sources of eye health-related information. Many of these organizations can also refer you to resources in your local area.

Click this link to visit the Eye Health Organizations Database.

AMD Alliance International

The AMD Alliance International strives to bring knowledge, help and hope to individuals and families around the world affected by Age-related macular degeneration. Their mission is accomplished through:

  • Generating awareness and understanding of age-related macular degeneration;
  • Promoting the importance of education, early detection, knowledge of treatment and rehabilitation options; and
  • Preserving vision and improving the quality of life of individuals affected by age-related macular degeneration.

In support of its mission, the AMD Alliance International has developed an aggressive international awareness campaign, focused on seniors and their caregivers, encouraging seniors to have their eyes examined; mobilized the medical community, insurance industry, and key governmental decision-makers to recognize and support AMD as a health priority; and supported the efforts of Alliance member organizations in countries throughout the globe - with a wide range of tactics from international research, Web site and hotline development to collateral support, consumer and trade shows/speaker's bureau and educational campaigns.

For more information, contact:

AMD Alliance International
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M4G 3E8
Toll Free: 1-877-AMD-7171 (U.S./Canada)
Phone: 416-486-2500 ext. 7505
Email: Web:

Change Toolbar Icon Size in Windows XP

You might find the icons in Windows XP Explorer toolbars small and difficult to distinguish. It's easy to change the toolbar icon size to something you can more easily read:

  1. Double-click or press enter on the "My Computer" icon on either the desktop or start menu to open the "My Computer" window.

  2. Select "View", then "Toolbars" and "Customize".

  3. The "Customize Toolbar" dialog box will appear. Next to "Icon options" select "Large icons".

  4. Click "OK" to close the dialog box.

Artist Trivia and the Meanings Behind Their Music

Was there truly a meaning behind the Beatles' song "I am the Walrus" or was the song intentionally written to be nonsensical? Is there a specific person referenced in Pink Floyd's classic "Wish You Were Here?" Is there an event behind Jim Hendrix's "Little Wing"?

Answers to these and other music-related questions are debated on Songfacts and SongMeanings. Look up your favorite artists or songs and see if there is truly a meaning behind the music, or at least if others think the songs have a true meaning. Both websites have a top list of the most frequently-requested songs, plus there are message forums where you can have longer discussions debating the meanings behind artists' words.

Click this link to visit

Click this link to visit

Musician Trivia

Just which famous rock singer was born Steven Tallarico? What musical group was formed with two daughters of former "Beach Boy" Brian Wilson? Which artist did Frank Sinatra claim was "the only genius in the business"?

These and other facts about musical artists can be found at Artistfacts. You can browse for facts about your favorite artist or view information about a random artist. Members can add their own comments if they want to share their pop culture knowledge.

Click this link to visit the Artistfacts website at

Oh yeah, the answers are: Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Wilson Phillips, and Ray Charles.

These sites are listed for informational purposes only and may have content not appropriate for children.

What is the Cornea?

The cornea is the eye's outermost layer. It is the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye.

Although the cornea is clear and seems to lack substance, it is actually a highly organized group of cells and proteins. Unlike most tissues in the body, the cornea contains no blood vessels to nourish or protect it against infection. Instead, the cornea receives its nourishment from the tears and aqueous humor that fills the chamber behind it. The cornea must remain transparent to refract light properly, and the presence of even the tiniest blood vessels can interfere with this process. To see well, all layers of the cornea must be free of any cloudy or opaque areas.

Because the cornea is as smooth and clear as glass but is strong and durable, it helps the eye in two ways:

  1. It helps to shield the rest of the eye from germs, dust, and other harmful matter. The cornea shares this protective task with the eyelids, the eye socket, tears, and the sclera, or white part of the eye.

  2. The cornea acts as the eye's outermost lens. It functions like a window that controls and focuses the entry of light into the eye. The cornea contributes between 65-75 percent of the eye's total focusing power.

When light strikes the cornea, it bends--or refracts--the incoming light onto the lens. The lens further refocuses that light onto the retina, a layer of light sensing cells lining the back of the eye that starts the translation of light into vision. For you to see clearly, light rays must be focused by the cornea and lens to fall precisely on the retina. The retina converts the light rays into impulses that are sent through the optic nerve to the brain, which interprets them as images.

The refractive process is similar to the way a camera takes a picture. The cornea and lens in the eye act as the camera lens. The retina is similar to the film. If the image is not focused properly, the film (or retina) receives a blurry image.

The cornea also serves as a filter, screening out some of the most damaging ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths in sunlight. Without this protection, the lens and the retina would be highly susceptible to injury from UV radiation.

For more information, click this link to visit the Facts About the Cornea and Corneal Disease page at the National Eye Institute website.

National Eye Institute
2020 Vision Place
Bethesda, MD 20892-3655
Phone: 301-496-5248

Questions to ask your Eye care Professional About Age-related macular degeneration

If you have been diagnosed with Age-related macular degeneration your ability to ask the right questions and receive accurate information is crucial. This way, you can address appropriate options for treatment, rehabilitation and support services together with your eye care provider. The more you know about your condition and prospects the higher your chances of maintaining the highest possible quality of life. ,

In Living Well with Macular Degeneration [1], Dr. Bruce Rosenthal Chairman of the Age-related macular degeneration Alliance International Scientific Advisory Board and Chief of Low Vision Services at Lighthouse International suggests the following questions to ask your doctor:

  • Do I have dry or wet Age-related macular degeneration?
  • What is the extent of my vision loss, and what other changes might I expect?
  • Can you tell how quickly my Age-related macular degeneration is progressing?
  • Can you see any symptoms in the other eye (if you only have it in one eye)?
  • Will a change in my regular glasses help at all?
  • What medical/surgical treatment might be appropriate for me?
  • Should I watch for any particular symptoms and notify you if they occur?
  • If my vision can^D>'t be corrected, can you refer me to a specialist in low vision?
  • Where is the best place to call about vision rehabilitation?
  • What can I do to protect or prolong my vision?
  • Who can recommend a vitamin/mineral program for me that might be helpful?

In addition, Dr. Rosenthal recommends keeping a record of your condition and creating (or getting the doctor^D>'s office to help you create) a report from each visit to your doctor. The information you need:

  • Current diagnosis
  • Visual acuity measurement (the 20/20 to 20/? measurement in the US or 6/6 to 6/? in countries on the metric system)
  • A description of the appearance of the retina and the macula
  • Any procedures performed
  • Any recommended medications or treatments

Taking a friend or relative to the consultation with your doctor may help you remember all important pieces of information and give you confidence to ask these essential questions.

[1] Living Well With Macular Degeneration, Dr. Bruce Rosenthal and Kate Kelly. Penguin Putnam Inc., New York, 2001. If you would like to obtain a copy please contact:

The Lighthouse International
111 East 59th Street
New York, N.Y. 10022-1202
Phone: 212-821-9200

Copyright 1999-2005 Age-related macular degeneration Alliance International. All rights reserved.

FEMA for Kids

The FEMA for Kids website at has sections on floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunami, thunderstorms, volcanoes, earthquakes, wildfires, winter storms, and national security emergencies.

The site has several games and quizzes for children to participate in, and gives children the opportunity to become a disaster action kid. Your child can receive a free activity book, brochure, coloring book, door knob hanger, and a certificate with their name on it.

It is always a good idea to go over emergency procedures with your children. While you may think your child knows what to do in the case of an emergency, going over things can make you and your child feel more comfortable should a disaster situation occur.

Another cool feature of this site is that kids can look at current events in your particular area. The site has a huge map of the United States and children can click on a state to find out what types of emergencies they should look out for as well as what disasters have happened recently in the area. The map is screen reader friendly and easy to see with screen magnification software.

Children can also look at "Today in Disaster History" where they can see what disasters were occurring previously on a particular date.

Click this link to visit the Fema for Kids website:

Friday, August 25, 2006

Ophthalmologist or Optometrist: What's the Difference?

The principal difference between these two eye care professionals is the presence (or absence) of a medical degree. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors and vision care specialists possessing diagnostic skills, together with the ability to treat eye disorders and diseases.

Ophthalmologists are also qualified to undertake eye surgery, accurately prescribe corrective lenses and dispense advice for preventing blindness. Training in clinical and surgical settings is also a prerequisite.

Optometrists, on the other hand, perform routine eye examinations and general vision care procedures such as screening patients for certain eye disorders like glaucoma. They will also determine the need for, fit and prescribe corrective eyewear and/or lenses.

Audio Books That Think They're iPods

For those who are crunched for time or don't want to bother downloading an audio book, or, for that matter, buying a portable audio player, Findaway World says there's another way to listen.

Playaway is the first-ever self-playing, self-contained digital audio book. No need to download anything or continuously swap out CDs or audiocassettes. The Playaway hangs around your neck or fits in a pocket so you can listen to books pretty much wherever you want. It's half the size of a deck of cards, and lets you adjust the speed of the narrator's voice (which, Findaway says, is often the actual author), fast-forward, reverse and bookmark your spot for the next time you listen.

The Playaway comes with earphones, a lanyard and a AAA battery. You can pick them up at Borders, OfficeMax, Barnes & Noble and the Playaway Web site.

Click this link to visit the Playaway website.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Serving Those Who Serve

The mission of Rebuilding Together: is to preserve and revitalize houses and communities, assuring that low-income homeowners, from the elderly and disabled to families with children, live in warmth, safety, and independence. In partnership with communities, their goal is to make a sustainable impact.

The impact is made through providing necessary repairs free of charge to existing homeowners. These necessary repairs often include home modifications, roofing, plumbing, and electrical repairs and/or improvements.

They have a special project called Serving Those Who Serve. The mission of this particular project is to help wounded Iraq vets.

Serving Those Who Serve is a special-needs home modification service that will be reserved exclusively for veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom, and now have loss of sight, loss of hearing, loss of mobility, or traumatic brain injury. It will not only make their homes safer, but will improve the quality of life for these brave men and women and their families by providing independence and mobility.

This service is being made entirely at no cost and will be accomplished by community and military volunteers and skilled trades.

If you know of a wounded veteran who might need their help they have an application to apply for assistance. If you'd like to help them in their mission of modifying homes to meet the needs of wounded veterans they also have a page with information on how to volunteer.

ACB Diabetics in Action

By Carla Ruschival

If you are diabetic, and if you have been experiencing "floaters" or other problems with your vision, you may be one of millions of people with diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. With approximately 18.2 million diabetics in the U.S., and with that number growing every year, it is likely that there will continue to be a large number of new cases of diabetic retinopathy.

There is no cure for diabetic retinopathy. However, as is true with all complications of diabetes, careful attention to diet and prescribed treatments is essential to controlling the problem.

ACB Diabetics in Action is a resource for diabetics with vision loss. The purpose of this new organization is to inform diabetics of equipment they can use, to work for increased availability of speech and large print technology for diabetics who can no longer read standard print and display screens, and to work with doctors and other professionals in the field.

Membership in ACB Diabetics in Action is open to diabetics, their friends and relatives, and to professionals.

For more information, contact:

Jeff Bishop
1633 West Maplewood Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85746
Email: Dee Clayton, President

To join an email list for blind and visually-impaired diabetics, send a blank email to:

You will receive a message asking you to confirm that you wish to join the list; just hit reply and you will be subscribed to the list.

Unexpected Sight Loss: What are the Causes?

While browsing through my RSS feeds, I came across the following article that explains the two major eye diseases responsible for the majority of sight loss today. I thought it was a great article and wanted to share it with you.

The article comes from the Perfect Health Blog and was originally published on August 2, 2006 by the Administrator.

Diabetes, Glaucoma Put Millions At Risk for Unexpected Blindness

Unexpected sight loss is more common than you may think. Blindness often happens without prior warning signs and in people unaware they are at risk.

The two most common culprits of unexpected sight loss are diabetes and glaucoma. These diseases are known as the “sneak thieves of sight” because symptoms may not occur in the early stages. By the time a person realizes something is wrong, irreversible vision loss often occurs.

In fact, diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness in adults. An average of 55 Americans go blind from the disease each day. The numbers threaten to rise sharply as diabetes becomes increasingly common due to poor eating habits, infrequent exercise and an aging population. One in three children born in the United States five years ago are expected to become diabetic during their lives.

Diabetes causes partial or complete loss of vision in as many as 70 percent of those who have it. Yet 30 percent of all people who have diabetes don’t even know they have it. Even people who know they have diabetes downplay the risks they face.

According to a survey of diabetics sponsored by Lions Clubs International, 60 percent were not worried about going blind or losing a limb. In reality, 74 percent of diabetics will develop serious complications that could lead to loss of sight or a limb or kidney failure.

Glaucoma, on the other hand, is a group of eye diseases that slowly damage the fine nerves that connect the eye to the brain. For most people, this damage occurs when pressure in the eye is too high. When these nerves are damaged, vision loss may result.

Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness in the United States. But like diabetes, not enough people know about it: An estimated 4.2 million Americans have glaucoma but half are not aware of it.

Diabetes and glaucoma are especially prevalent among blacks and Hispanics. These groups are believed to have a genetic predisposition to the diseases and are much more at risk than Caucasians. Others particularly at risk for glaucoma are people over 60, those with a family history of glaucoma, diabetics and the very near-sighted.

The good news for those at risk is that a dilated eye exam can detect the two diseases and early treatment can prevent vision loss. Vision experts urge at-risk people to have regular eye exams.

Raising awareness of diabetic eye disease and glaucoma is key to preventing unnecessary blindness. Lions Clubs International works with Lions clubs, community groups and individuals to publicize the need for early detection and timely treatment of the two diseases. The Lions Eye Health Program provides materials for distribution at health fairs, senior citizen centers and similar gatherings. It also offers strategies for raising awareness of the eye diseases.

LEHP is run by Lions Clubs International Foundation, which has restored sight (through cataract surgeries) or prevented serious vision loss for 25 million people and improved eye care services for millions worldwide. For more information, visit, send an e-mail to or call (800) 982-0356. Reads Your Mail Out Loud

Web-based email service has Audio Webmail, a feature enabling users to have their messages read out loud in 11 languages.

The service is available for free to all users on the company's beta site.

Audio Webmail currently supports U.S. and U.K. English, German, Italian, French, Japanese, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Portuguese, and Dutch, and plans to add support for additional languages in the future.

Click this link to visit the website.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Eight Steps for Lawn Mower Safety

By Matt Morrison

Even though many lawn mowers come with safety features, it is a powerful cutting machine that is dangerous and should be treated as such. Improper use could result in personal injury or even death. The U.S. Government estimates that 60,000 people are treated in hospitals for lawn mower related injuries. Most accidents occur when people do not know how to operate their machine properly or they don't use common sense and get careless.

  1. Get to know your lawn mower. Check the owner's manuals frequently to familiarize yourself with it.

  2. Dress properly. Do not wear open toe shoes or shorts. Don't wear loose clothing or hair that could possibly drawn into rotating parts. Use safety glasses and dust masks when the need is required.

  3. Prepare your lawn beforehand. Pick up rocks, sticks, wires, toys, tools or any objects that could be thrown by the blade.

  4. Prepare the mower. Make sure all parts are tightened and nothing is missing. Check for and correct any leaks. Check your oil levels and the lawn mower blade for proper retention.

  5. Handle gasoline with care. If you spill fuel, wipe it up promptly and allow time for vaporization before you start the mower. Store gasoline in a proper container away from children and your home.

  6. Warn other people before mowing your lawn. Keep children inside and pets penned up while operating your mower. Always be prepared to stop in case someone or something darts in the area you are mowing.

  7. Start your mower according to operators manual. Keep your hands and feet safely away from the mower deck while starting. Always cease starts if your engine becomes flooded to prevent ignition spark.

  8. Be mindful. Always be aware of your surroundings and any potential dangers that might occur. Don't let the subconscious just take over while thinking about things other than the job at hand.

If you follow these steps, you can help avoid becoming another statistic.

Article Source:

Stick a paper clip where?

Did you ever get a CD stuck in your CD-ROM drive? Nothing seems to work-you've pressed the button a million times, tried to open by right-clicking the drive and choosing "eject", maybe even contemplated using a screw driver to pry the thing open.

Before you take out the drive and try to surgically remove the disk, or worse, buy a new drive, try this simple little trick to manually open your disk drive tray.

  1. Unwind a paperclip.
  2. Stick it in the little hole on the drive tray, usually near the eject button.

You heard me right. There's a little hole you probably never even noticed. It's the manual release for the drive tray.

If you don't see the hole, it could be because the front panel of your computer is covering it. These panels are often removable, allowing you access to the hole. It is very small, and you may be feeling over it, and can't tell it's there. If necessary, get some sighted assistance. Hey, it's better than losing your drive.

My Zip Disk is Jammed

If you use zip disks, you may need the following tip to remove one that doesn't want to come out of the drive.

Before you do anything, you need to shut down your computer the proper way. Don't restart it, but actually power it down by selecting Shut Down (or Turn Off) from the Start menu. This will cut off all the power to the zip drive so it can reset itself. Let your computer sit for awhile and then turn it back on. Usually, the zip drive will eject the disk when the computer is started from a complete power down.

If that doesn't work, you guessed it, straighten out a paperclip and insert it in the little hole in front of the zip drive. Do this until you feel a spring-like resistance. Then push a little harder with the paperclip and with any luck, you will force the drive to eject the disk. The first method works the best, so make sure you try that first, because it will work about 99 percent of the time.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hairspray: Not Just for Your Hair

I like this part of Fred's Head where we learn how to use household items in different ways from their original design. Let's see what we can do with hairspray.

Hairspray works great as a stain remover. It can remove ink stains from clothes and carpet. Just saturate the stain, let it set for about a minute and then wash it away.

Hairspray can help you catch and kill bugs around your home. Instead of blindly chasing a fly around the house with a fly swatter, shoot it with a little hairspray. The hair spray seems to stiffen and freeze it's wings rendering it unable to fly, allowing you to catch or swat at it.

When threading a needle, spray a little hairspray on the end of the thread to stiffen it. It makes it much easier to thread.

Ladies, hairspray works great on pantyhose runs too. Just spritz a bit on the run, and it will stop that run in its tracks.

Audio Slalom for Blind and Visually Impaired Skiers

The Bat Blaster from a-technic (the British Adaptive and Assistive Technology charity) is a training and competition system for blind and partially sighted water ski slalom. Until now, the most popular of the competition disciplines has been impossible for vision impaired water skiers. This has changed with the advent of a new discipline - Audio Slalom, specially devised for vision impaired skiers to accurately simulate the traditional slalom event and with technology like the Bat Blaster.

Skiers no longer need to see the buoys, but can instead compete using audible 'buoy' signals. The Bat Blaster attaches to the towing pylon of a competition ski boat and allows vision impaired skiers to participate in slalom competitions. It is used in all major disabled water ski competitions and is in regular use by blind and partially sighted skiers in around a dozen countries world-wide.

Click this link to visit the Bat Blaster home page of the a-technic website:

Monday, August 21, 2006

Audio Slalom for Blind and Visually Impaired SkiersWoodworking for the Blind

Woodworking for the Blind Inc. provides monthly CD recordings of woodworking publications exclusively for the use of blind and visually impaired woodworkers.

Voice recordings of all of the articles and features in Fine Woodworking magazine, Woodwork magazine, Woodsmith magazine, Woodworking magazine and American Woodworker magazine are available as CDs in MP3 file format shortly after each magazine's current issue becomes available. Recordings of full-length books on woodworking also will be available from time to time.

If you are interested, please contact us at

Larry Martin
Woodworking for the Blind

Motion-Activated Anywhere Light

You don't need to run wires to illuminate dark sheds, porches, or walkways anymore. The weatherproof Motion-Activated Anywhere LED Light is powered by four C batteries (sold separately), so it can be placed anywhere you might be prone to tripping, stumbling, or fumbling for keys. Just walk within 25 feet of this motion-sensor light, and it will brighten the entire area. You'll feel more secure knowing your guests won't be arriving to a darkened doorway, as well.

Ideal for a porch, shed, doorway or closet, the Motion-Activated Anywhere LED Light only turns on when it senses your presence, so it won't waste its batteries. The five bright LEDs illuminate for 12 seconds or until motion stops. LED lights are bright, energy-efficient, and last much longer than traditional bulbs: These five bulbs will last 30,000 hours! Dimensions: 6" x 5" x 4"

Click this link to purchase the Motion-Activated Anywhere Light from Smarthome.

How to Play Spoons

By Laura Torres |

Stuck inside because of bad weather? This fast-paced, easy card game for all ages is a great cure for the boredom blues. You will need a deck of cards and a pile of spoons (one fewer than the number of players).

  1. Place the spoons in the center of the table. You want one fewer spoons than number of players, so if you have five players, use four spoons.

  2. The dealer gives each person four cards. The dealer then picks a card from the deck and discards one card from her hand. She discards by placing the card face down and sliding it over to the player on her left. That player picks up the card, then discards one card the same way the dealer did it, by sliding it face down to the person on his left. The last person before the dealer makes a pile of the discards to use when the original deck is used up. The dealer always picks a card from the deck.

  3. The object is to collect four cards all of the same number or royalty (four kings, four threes etc.). When a player gets a hand with four of all the same cards, he grabs a spoon from the pile. Then all the other players grab a spoon.

  4. One person will not get a spoon. That person gets a letter "S." Each time a player loses, he gets a letter in order of the word SPOONS. When a player has spelled the whole word, he or she is out. The last player left is the winner.

It sounds pretty straightforward, but there is strategy involved. The player who gets four of a kind can quickly grab a spoon, or be sneaky about it so the others don't notice so easily. Hint: Put a tablecloth on the table to protect the tabletop from overexcited players and flying spoons.

Article Source:

Tranquil Sounds and Massaging Bath Pillow

It seems like a lot of my blind or visually impaired friends have one of those nature sound radios. They either have the one that includes the alarm clock or the one that constantly repeats the nature sounds until you turn it off.

I am a person who loves to listen to rain and thunderstorms. I think they are peaceful in their own way and I find them very relaxing. Here's a great idea to bring the sounds of nature to your bathtub.

This waterproof pillow attaches to any smooth bathtub surface using two suction cups, and provides ergonomic support via its contoured nodule design which cushions the neck, and the pillow also plays digital recordings of soothing natural sounds, including Ocean Surf, Rain, Rain Forest, and Woodlands while providing a gentle vibrating massage. The audio and massage functions operate in conjunction or independently at the touch of a button. Requires three AA batteries. 6 1/2" W x 14" L x 4" D. (1 3/4 lbs.)

Click this link to purchase the Tranquil Sound Massaging Bath Pillow from the Hammacher Schlemmer website.

First Aid and Safety Tips for Children

Thanks to the internet, there is a ton of accessible first aid information at our fingertips. One website I found to help with childhood first aid concerns is Kids Health. The site has a rather substantial section on First Aid and Safety with instructions on what to do when your child gets hurt. The site covers everything from falls and frostbite to seizures and broken bones. The website also offers a good deal of safety tips for various events and holidays to help prevent your child from being harmed.

Click this link to visit the First Aid and Safety page of the Kids Health website.

Talking First Aid Kit

Carl Augusto of the American Foundation for the Blind Blog posted the following about this great product.

I think it's always important to keep safety in mind, so I thought I'd let you know about a new product from intelligentFirstAidT, the First Aid "talking" Kit. The Kit includes nine injury-specific packs to help treat common injuries, including Bleeding, Head & Spine Injury, and Shock. The packs are individually labeled and color-coded, which I love because it would help someone with low vision easily distinguish the packs. The best part, though, is that with the press of a button, the audio component attached to each card provides step-by-step instructions to manage the wound. Situations often become chaotic when a loved one, an acquaintance, or even you, experiences a minor injury. With this tool, people with low vision can remain calm and have an idea of how to handle things without worrying about reading any print.

Check out the intelli gentFirstAidT website to purchase the product or get more information. The site even allows you to listen to a sample of the audio component of the kit.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Brussel Sprouts on the George Foreman Grill

People who know me understand that I am not a veggie eater. If it's green, I have a hard time eating it. With that said, I want to show you veggie eaters how to prepare Brussel Sprouts on a George Foreman Grill. Please don't try this if I ever come to visit.

  1. Cut off the ends of the brussel sprouts and cut them in half.
  2. Place the pieces face down on the preheated grill and cook for about 12 minutes.

After they are cooked, drip a few drops of Extra Virgin Olive Oil on the open side of each half. The Olive oil seeps into the sprouts and adds extra flavor. If you add the olive oil before cooking you won't quite get the same effect.

Broccoli on the George Foreman Grill

People who know me understand that I am not a veggie eater. If it's green, I have a hard time eating it. With that said, I want to show you veggie eaters how to prepare Broccoli on a George Foreman Grill. Please don't try this if I ever come to visit.

  1. Cut the Broccoli into small pieces.
  2. Cover with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  3. Place on preheated grill and cook for about 10-12 minutes.

You can also try cooking veggies right after cooking a hamburger. The juices from the burger make a great seasoning for veggies.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

How to Have Beautiful Skin

Everyone wants to have smooth and beautiful skin. You can achieve this by gathering the following ingredients, which you can easily find in your cupboard.

For a body soak


  • 2 cups of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. of cinnamon (to add an aroma)
  • 2-4 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • Water (any amount)

  1. Prepare your body soak. Mix together the lemon juice, cinnamon, olive oil and milk.
  2. Pour the ingredients into a bathtub.
  3. Mix everything well with bath water.
  4. Relax and enjoy the aroma while obtaining smooth and beautiful skin.

For a foot soak


  • 1 cup of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. of cinnamon (to add an aroma)
  • 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 foot file
  • Water (any amount)

  1. Prepare your foot soak. Mix together the lemon Juice, cinnamon, olive oil and milk.
  2. Pour the ingredients into a tub large enough to fit your feet into.
  3. Combine everything with warm water - the amount doesn't matter.
  4. Soak your feet for 15 minutes.
  5. Gently use the foot file to eliminate any dry or dead skin.
  6. Soak again for 10 more minutes.
  7. Relax and enjoy the aroma while obtaining fresh feet.
  8. Remove your feet from the tub and pat dry.

If you don't like the smell of cinnamon, you can replace it with another spice, perfume, or flower petals such as roses.

Soaking and filing can be repeated as necessary.

After a few weeks of doing this, your skin will be silky smooth. These recipies leaves skin refreshed and fragrant.

Do not use these recipes if you are allergic to lemon, cinnamon, olive oil or milk! Click this link to visit for more skin care and beauty ideas.

Beauty Products with Braille on the Labels

According to The Alternative Consumer blog, L'OCCITANE En Provence includes braille on many of its product labels so blind and visually impaired people know what their buying. The company has also created a school designed to introduce blind and visually-impaired people to the world of perfume.

Click this link to check out the variety of products from L'OCCITANE En Provence:

Pirate Memory Audio Game

Shiver me timbers! You don't look like one of those lilly livered land-lovers, so get ye prepared for meeting zippy PIRATES from the High Seas. Are you Ready for new adventures?

Addictive, Simple and original, the Pirate Memory Audio GAME is sure to WIN your HEART and is a great GIFT for any BLIND FRIEND. It is a variant of the classic Memory game. You play in THREE exceptional auditory surroundings: on the pier, at the seaside and in the sea. In each of them, you will enjoy 12 levels of the game, which make altogether thirty six audio puzzles.

You can play with pirates from all over the globe and find your best results in the Pirate World's Hall of Fame on the internet.

You will find more info about the Pirate Memory Audio Game at:

Keep Smoke Out of Your Face with This Grill Fan

You love to grill. Sometimes you need to lean down closer to the grill to see what's going on with your food. Who wants all that smoke in their face while trying to find something that's rolled away?

This handy portable fan is 6" in diameter and uses 4 AAA batteries (all included) to provide breezes and cooling air anywhere. Aim the fan over the grill and blow the smoke away! Energy efficient, typical battery life is 4-5 hours continuous, a whole summer with intermittent on/off operation.

Clip onto any shelf up to 1" thick and bend the gooseneck to the desired angle. Stainless steel housing and mounting clip, useable rain or shine.

Click this link to purchase a Grill Fan from

How to Bottle Feed A Baby

There will come a time when you'll have to bottle feed a child. Do you know what to do? Many bottle feeding problems are directly related to the lack of technique employed by the caregiver. What seems to be insignificant details can actually impact on how a baby feeds. A lack of expertise can lead to stress on the baby and therefore she may not be getting all the nutrition she needs.

Testing the temperature of the milk is vital. Shake the bottle well and put a little of the milk on the inner side of your wrist. It should feel slightly warm but never hot. We've all seen this iconic image many times, from family, friends or on television but it really is still the best way of testing for the optimal temperature of bottle milk. If the milk is less than body temperature the baby may feel disinclined to drink it. If the milk is too hot there is a risk of injuring the baby's mouth and gullet.

Feeding a child can take a long time so you should find a sitting position that is comfortable for both you and the child. The baby will feel best when you hold her close to you in a semi reclining position. The baby's head should not be tilted too far forward or too far back: too far forward and the baby will have difficulty swallowing, too far back and excess milk may run down their face, into its ears or back up its nose.

Don't force the nipple into the baby's mouth. Try to encourage the baby to open her mouth by touching her lips with the nipple. The baby's tongue should be under the nipple. If not, gently take out the nipple and try again. During the feed, monitor the baby's sucking action and ensure that the tongue is always on top of the nipple: young babies have a tendency to move the tongue on top when they cry.

Make sure the nipple is well inside the mouth. Don't pull back as your baby will not get a good suction.

The best way I've found to monitor a baby while feeding is to hold the bottle between your thumb and index finger while placing your middle finger on the baby's chin. This allows you to constantly monitor their sucking and lets you know when they've stopped.

You should allow for 'pit stops' during the feed. The baby will probably stop sucking several times during the feed. During these times you should try to gently burp the child. If she complains then refrain from burbing her until after the feed.

Finally, take your time. Don't try to rush the baby or she will get stressed. Remember, some babies stop and start during the feed. By paying close attention you'll be able to recognise the signs that the baby has finished its feed.

Click this link for more tips on bottle feeding from

We are interested in your parenting tips. Please share them with us by leaving a comment to this post on the Fred's Head Companion or by sending an email to

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Transfer Food with PrepTaxi

Eliminate messy spills and dropped foods. The PrepTaxi allows you to effortlessly scoop up and transfer up to 3 cups of sliced, diced and chopped vegetables, meats and poultry from cutting board to saute pan or bowl. The closed handle has an ergonomic design for total hand comfort.

Size: 6" x 6" x 1.25"
Materials: Stainless Steel
Cleaning and Care: Dishwasher safe

Click this link to purchase PrepTaxi from

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Arrow Through Your Documents

Here's a cool little arrow trick to try with word processing programs. Next time you're using your arrow keys to go from one area of a sentence to another (left and right arrows), hold down your CTRL key. Instead of moving one space at a time, you'll go one word at a time.

If you're using the up and down arrows to go from line to line, holding down the CTRL key will make your cursor jump from paragraph to paragraph (well, from carriage return to carriage return anyway).


Think quick. Move fast. Play hard.

That's the qualities you'll have to have if you want to become a first-class goalball player. Goalball is a quick-paced, sometimes bruising, but always exciting sport that's catching on with blind, visually impaired and sighted players around the world. If you like fun, fast-action and making friends, there's a good chance goalball will catch on with you.

Goalball has been a fixture at the Paralympics since the 1976 games in Toronto. It has its own governing body: The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA). It also has a dedicated group of players and fans: By the IBSA'S best estimate, goalball is played in more than 85 countries worldwide.

So what's Goalball got going for it that makes it better than your favorite computer game? Plenty.

Goalball is Easy to Learn: Goalball is a contest between two teams of five players each. During play, only three players from each team (a center and two wings) can be on the court. Every player--whether blind, sighted or visually impaired--must wear eye-shades.

Matches take place on a gym floor in an area about the size of a volleyball court (30 x 60 feet). The court is divided into equal halves and each team guards its own half of the court. They are especially protective of the furthest back edge of their court. This back line is called the goal line.

And what are they trying to keep from crossing over the foal line? Why the goalball, of course. The goal of goalball is to roll (not throw) a ball past the members of the other team and over the opponent's goal line. If that happens, your team earns a point. Of course, the defenders are doing everything they can to keep the ball from crossing the goal line. In fact, they lunge, dive and leap for the ball in order to stop it. If they can capture the ball before it crosses the goal or goes out of bounds, then they now get to roll the ball at your goal line and you have to stop it!

So, how do players know where the goalball is going after someone rolls it? The actual goalball is a heavy rubber ball slightly larger than a basketball, and it has bells in it. As the ball rolls, it makes noise which alerts the defending team to the ball's whereabouts.

There are tactile hashmarks on the court (these are made by placing a piece of string on the floor and a piece of tape over the string) to mark off the goal lines and to help players navigate the playing area.

Goalball Takes Guts! With all the lunging, diving and blocking that defenders have to do to stop the goalball, many players wear elbow and knee pads for protection. It's a good thing, too! Well-conditioned goalball players at the top of their game can roll a goalball at speeds up to 40 km per hour! Because players need to hear where the ball is at all times, crowds are silent while the ball is in play. Yet once a goal is scored, the crowd can cheer or, if their team was just scored on, groan with wild abandon.

Goalball Takes Brains: There is a lot of strategy in goalball. Players try to position themselves in areas of the court that give them the best chance to block an opponent's roll. And they have to be able to react quickly in order to capture the ball before it crosses the goal line.

As in any sport, there are rewards for those who play by the rules and penalties for those who don't. A highball penalty occurs if the roller's ball is airborne (rather than rolling) when it crosses a certain spot on the floor called the highball line. Should this happen, the thrower must defend one throw without the aid of his or her teammates. After the penalty throw, the teammates are led back to the court and play resumes. Three consecutive throws by the same player and controlling the ball for longer than 8 seconds without throwing are also infractions.

Goalball Has Great Games: The sport's origins can be traced back to 1946 when Austrian Hanz Lorenzen and German Sett Reindle developed the game as a rehabilitation activity for post-WWII blind veterans. In 1976 Goalball made its first appearance in the Paralympics and the first world championships were held in Austria in 1978.

During the 2000 Paralympics held in Sydney, Australia, twelve men's teams and eight women's teams played a total of 78 matches. The Men's Gold Medal was won by Denmark while the Women's Gold went to the Canadian team.

According to Dave Hamilton, coach of the Michigan Spitfire Goalball Club, located in Wayne, Michigan, the sport attracts a certain type of person. "Your typical goalball player is the type of person who loves fun, teamwork, and just an all around good time. To be really good at goalball, the athlete must have a lot of heart."

Goalball Has Glory: Depending on an individual's desire, determination and skill, they may be invited to play for their home country's team in the Paralympics. To reach this level of play, a goalball athlete must train for his or her matches just like any other athlete does. This means lots of time spent in practices, lifting weights and sharpening one's balance and throwing skills.

Want to learn more about Goalball? Check out these web links for more information about goalball, including goalball rules, team and fan pages.

Goalball Discussion Forum: A discussion forum for people interested in the sport of goalball.

Click this link to visit the Kentucky Thoroughbreds and Fillies Goalball teams website:

"Keep Your Ear on the Ball"

Keith Maitland's documentary Keep Your Ear on the Ball is about a year in the life of a group of blind Austin teenagers who play goalball.

Click this link to visit and check out the trailer (there's an audio-described version for the visually impaired>.

Robot rabbit reads RSS feeds

This plastic rabbit uses a Wi-Fi connection and text-to-speech software to read RSS feeds, e-mails and weather reports out loud.

The Nabaztag rabbit is available for purchase in the U.S. from, or directly from While the Nabaztag will work with any Wi-Fi network, it does need to be plugged into an electrical outlet for power. Once the Nabaztag rabbit is connected, its owner registers it online, gives it an official name, and chooses one of the subscription services designed to work with it.

Basic services--an alarm-clock feature, weather reports, stock updates and e-mail alerts--are free. Premium services, such as reading e-mails and RSS feeds or playing MP3s, range in price from $5 to about $7.50 a month.

Owners specify the time of day they would like the Nabaztag to "come to life." They also determine whether e-mails or RSS feeds are read as they are received or at certain times of day. The device can be set to simply light up when new feeds and e-mail arrive.

Nabaztag owners can subscribe to Nabcasts, Webcasts done by community members for free. Some of them, like the "never-ending bedtime story," are geared toward children.

Each Nabaztag owner has the option to "marry" one rabbit with another, allowing the two devices to mimic each other's movements. If you are thinking of your partner and want to signal your thoughts, moving your rabbit's ears will cause the same movements on your partner's rabbit simultaneously. The rabbits can be located anywhere in the world.

Click this link to learn more about this reading rabbit at

How to Play Penny Pitch

Are you looking for games that all your children can play? Do you want to insure that the playing field is even for your visually impaired children as well as the sighted?

Here's a great game that everyone can play, even if you have to blindfold the sighted children to even things up a little. Please note: Supervision is required for young children due to the use of small items that could be swallowed.

Use large muffin tins as game boards and have children pitch pennies into the muffin cups. There are different ways to play and keep score.

Game #1

  1. Set the muffin tin down lengthwise and have two children stand a slight distance from it.

  2. Give them each the same number of pennies.

  3. Have them take turns tossing pennies into the muffin cups. Award a certain number of points for each cup. For example, award one point for the nearest cup, two for the next, etc. The child with the highest score wins.

Game #2

  1. Have children line up and take individual turns tossing pennies into the pan (or set up two pans).

  2. Award points, or count to see who was able to toss the most items into the pan overall.

Game #3

Instead of pennies, try colored beads or dried beans. You can award different points for different colors. You can also use margarine tubs or small cups instead of muffin pans.

Game #4

To make things more challenging for bigger kids, have them toss while wearing a blindfold, or have them stand with their backs to the pan/cups and toss backwards.

Knitting With 2 Circular Needles

By Paulette Vickery

I love knitting with 2 circular needles rather than using double pointed needles. Once you get the hang of it, the technique is much easier, less complicated and your stitches never fall off the needles. Plus, you never have a short little needle get lost in the innerds of a couch or chair or go rolling merrily across the floor, always managing to stay just out of reach. Let me explain how to do it with a simple set of step by step instructions that will remove all of the confusion from the learning process. But first, take time to settle yourself in your favorite knitting chair with a glass of your favorite libation near at hand. Being comfortable while learning is just as important as the learning process itself. I know that I always learn best when I am relaxed and comfortable. Now, let's do it!

So we are all working on the same project, so to speak, let's talk about finishing a simple hat which has been knit in the round, using a circular needle. When you get to the part of the hat, where you would have to use double pointed needles because the opening is too small to continue knitting on 1 circular needle, here is what you need to do in order to use 2 circulars instead of double pointed needles.

First, divide your stitches onto 2 needles. I like to have 1 needle slightly longer than the other so I can tell where the beginning of the round is. Let's say that your original needle is the shorter needle and the second one is the longer needle. Okay; when you have finished putting half of your stitches on the longer needle, the short needle, the one with the yarn coming out of the first stitch, will be on the right, and the long needle, the one with the other half of the stitches on it will be on the left.

Now; let go of both of the points of the short, right-hand, needle. Just center those stitches in the middle of the cable so they won't go anywhere.

Now; you will be working with both points of the long needle, the one on your left. Take hold of the closest tip. This will be your left-hand needle. Now, grab hold of the other tip, which is probably somewhere out there, dangling toward the floor. Pull it around past the new left-hand needle to the other side, so it is in your right hand. This is now your new, right-hand needle.

Now, let's look at what you've got. You have the short needle, the original one in the back with the stitches that you are not working right now, centered on the cable and both points pushed somewhere out of the way. The yarn is hanging down on your right side, from the cable, not near the point of the needle, because you pushed your stitches to the center of the cable to keep them safe. You also have your front needle, the long one, which is now your current working needle, and the needle at the beginning of the round. You have the point with the stitches on it in your left hand, and you have the empty point in your right hand.

Now; slip the point of your right hand needle into your first stitch on your left-hand needle like you usually do for whatever kind of stitch you are doing. For simplicity, let's say it is a knit stitch. Pretend that the yarn coming from the cable of the needle in the back, the short one, is coming out of the needle that you are using, and just knit the stitch just as usual, being sure to give the working yarn a little extra tug to make the stitches nice and snug and avoid an unwanted gap. Now, the yarn really is coming out of the stitch on the needle that you are using. Just continue knitting and knit all of the stitches on the long needle.

Ok; now, repeat the process; only this time the current working needle will be the short one, and you will be working the second half of the round.

Drop both points of the long needle and center the stitches in the middle of the cable. Pick up both of the points of the new short needle, the one that was In the back, which is now on your left, because you have shifted things around a bit. Push the stitches up to the top of the closest end of the needle, which is now your left-hand needle. Pull the other end of the needle around so it is now your right-hand needle. Then, knit all of the stitches on the short needle.

Now, you are ready to do it again. You will have the long needle as the current working needle, and when you begin knitting the stitches on that needle, you will be starting a new round.

If you decide to knit the entire hat using 2 circular needles, or you are knitting a miniature hat or some other small project, here is how to begin a project with 2 circular needles. Remember to use 2 different needle lengths to make it easier to recognize the beginning of each round.

Using the shorter needle, cast on the number of stitches you need, plus 1 extra stitch. Then, slide all of the stitches to the other end of the needle, so that the first stitch cast on is near the point at the other end.

Now, beginning with the first stitch you cast on, move the first half of the stitches, onto the longer needle. You will have one half of the stitches on the short needle and the other half of the stitches on the long needle, but they will still not be joined to form a circle. In order to close the circle, slide both sets of stitches to the other end of there needles. Be sure that when you look at the stitches, that they are all going the same direction and not twisted. You can do this by starting with each hand at the opposite end of each needle and moving them toward each other to make sure there are no twists and the stitches are all facing the same way. The first stitch cast on and the extra last stitch cast on are near the points of both the short and long needles and beside each other. The points are close enough together for you to just lift the extra stitch onto the long needle.

So now, the first 2 stitches on the long needle are the first stitch you cast on and that extra stitch. Using only the tips of the long needle, knit these 2 stitches together to join the circle and get rid of the extra stitch. For a really smooth join, knit those 2 stitches together using both the long working yarn and the tail held together as a single strand of yarn. Then, still using both points of the long needle, continue working across the stitches on that needle to finish the first half of the round.

Next, just like we did before, drop the points of the long needle, pushing the stitches to the middle of the cable to keep them safe and pick up both points of the short needle and work across the other half of the stitches on that needle to finish the first round.

It really isn't hard. After you do a few rounds, you will probably wonder why you ever used those pesky double pointed needles in the first place!

Monday, August 14, 2006

How to Fix Bacon in A George Foreman Grill

The George Foreman grill is one of the best kitchen appliances for someone who is blind or visually impaired. I personally love these things and cook a variety of meals with the ones that we have. It does a great job cooking chicken breasts, pork chops and hamburgers.

George Foreman grills can also do up some great tasting bacon. Follow these steps and you'll have breakfast in minutes.

  1. Start with 1/4 slab of bacon.
  2. Preheat George Foreman grill.
  3. Place partial slab of bacon on grill (no need to separate slices).
  4. Grill 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Open grill and flip bacon.
  6. Close grill and cook until desired crispness.

Make sure your drip tray is in place at the front of the grill.

Be careful not to put too much bacon in the grill at one time.

How to Make a Grilled Cheese Sandwich in a George Foreman Grill

The George Foreman grill is one of the best kitchen appliances for someone who is blind or visually impaired. I personally love these things and cook a variety of meals with the ones that we have. It does a great job cooking chicken breasts, pork chops and hamburgers.

George Foreman grills aren't just for meat, they also make awesome grilled cheese sandwiches. Follow these steps and you'll have a great snack in minutes.

  1. Get out the bread, cheese and a plate to set the sandwich on when you're done.

  2. Plug in the George Foreman Grill.

  3. Wait while the grill gets hot.

  4. Butter one side of each piece of bread if you like to use butter. (This will be the side that is facing outward.)

  5. Put the cheese between the bread with the non-buttered side touching the cheese.

  6. Once grill is hot, open it up and put in the sandwich.

  7. Check on the sandwich every few minutes so it won't burn.

  8. When the sandwich is browned unplug the grill and let it cool.

  9. After a minute or so, take out sandwich, put it on a plate and dig in.

  10. After eating your sandwich, sponge down the cooled grill.

Vary the breads and cheeses to make it more interesting. For example, try Pepper Jack cheese. You could also try adding fruits or veggies. How about the classic grilled cheese with tomatos?

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Children's Toy and Bottle Germ Sanitizer

As parents, we want to keep the world around our little ones as clean as possible. It's not an easy job! Children lick and spit on everything! How are we supposed to keep germs and other nasties away from them?

The Children's Toy and Bottle Germ Sanitizer is an antimicrobial sanitizer that uses dry heat up to 165 F to eliminate up to 99.9% of germs in 30 minutes, including influenza, pneumococcus, staphylococcus, E.coli, and salmonella, for baby items such as bottles, small toys, or pacifiers. Although this device kills deadly germs, the heat won't shrink or fade colorful fabrics or melt plastic and rubber, and it operates without chemicals. Automatically shuts off at the end of a sanitizing cycle. You don't have to worry about steam! Measures: 7 1/2" L x 8 1/2" W x 8" H. (4 1/2 lbs.)

Click this link to purchase The Children's Toy and Bottle Germ Sanitizer from Hammacher Schlemmer.

Tick Twister

I've always had dog guides that love the outdoors. Naturally being black labs, they love the water. It's easy for them to get the occasional tick. Have you ever tried to remove one of these little pests? Tweezers are usually the gadget for the job but you risk tearing the skin, leaving part of the tick or accidently poking your pet or guide in the eye.

The Tick Twister is an easy-to-use tick remover that is safe and effective. Specially designed notch grabs tick at skin level and removes it completely in one motion. Bowl-shaped end securely contains the tick for easy disposal. Helps reduce risk of disease. Veterinarian and physician endorsed. It works well on people too.

Click this link to purchase a Tick Twister from

Access Invaders

Do you remember playing Space Invaders? Did you have it on your old ATARI 2600? I can remember my visually impaired friends gathering around the floor model TV to play. We'd play that thing for hours! We sometimes felt bad for our friends who were totally blind. They could shoot at things and move the joystick back and forth, but it wasn't the same as actually being able to see the screen.

That's why I'm so excited about accessible games. There are lots of titles that blind and visually impaired people can now choose from. But what about people with other disabilities? What games do they play? Wouldn't it be great to have one game that we all could play?

Access Invaders is an accessible alternative to the retro arcade game we all know and love.

Access Invaders is a fully-functional game, developed by the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory of ICS-FORTH in close cooperation with the Centre for Universal Access & Assistive Technologies, in the context of the Universally Accessible Games (UA-Games) Activity. The game can be played in Windows and GNU/Linux. It can be concurrently played by individuals with different abilities and preferences, including people with disabilities, e.g., low-vision, blind and hand-motor impaired.

Access Invaders can be played using any or all of the following:

  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Joystick
  • Game pad
  • Binary switches

Additionally, for people who can use only one switch, the option of automatic scanning is available. It also features spatial (3D) sound and a screen reader (for presenting textual information).

Click this link to read more or download Access Invaders.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Amblyopia: What is it?

What Is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia, also known as "lazy eye," is reduced vision - uncorrectable with lenses - in an eye that has not received adequate use during early childhood. There is no visible anatomical defect.

Amblyopia has many causes. Most often it results from either a misalignment of a child's eyes, such as crossed eyes (strabismus), or a difference in image quality between the two eyes (one eye focusing better than the other, also known as anisometropia). In both cases, one eye becomes stronger, suppressing the image of the other eye. If this condition is not treated in early childhood, the weaker eye may become permanently impaired. With early diagnosis, amplyopia can be treated and loss of vision prevented.

What Are the Different Types of Amblyopia?

Strabismic amblyopia and anisometropic amblyopia are the two most common types. In strabismic amblyopia, the child has strabismus and the eyes are not aligned correctly so that one eye sees a different image from the other. In the eye that is deviated, the images seen by visual brain cells are suppressed to avoid double vision.

With anisometropic amblyopia, the eyes possess differing refractive powers. For example, one eye may be near-sighted while the other is far-sighted or strongly astigmatic. As a result, the brain will favor the eye with the clearer image and begin to ignore signals from the other one.

What Causes Amblyopia to Develop?

Amblyopia develops when any of the following conditions occur in an infant or young child:

  • "Squint"/strabismus (eyes not positioned straight)
  • Congenital cataract (clouding of the lens in an infant)
  • Uncorrected high near-sightedness (myopia) or far-sightedness (hyperopia) in both eyes
  • Uncorrected high myopia or hyperopia in one eye (one eye focuses differently from the
  • Severe ptosis (droopy eyelids)

Why Does Amblyopia Develop?

Amblyopia develops because when one eye is turned, as in squint, two different pictures are sent to the brain. In a young child, the brain learns to ignore the image of the deviated eye and see only the image of the better eye.

Similarly when there is difference in refractive power between the two eyes, the blurred image formed by the eye with greater uncorrected power is avoided by the brain. A moderate or high degree of refractive power present in both eyes, when not corrected early and adequately, results in amblyopia.

In order that the retina may register an object, it needs adequate light and visual stimulus. When these factors are absent, as in the presence of cataract in an infant, amblyopia also results.


  • Eye turning in, out or up
  • Closing one eye (particularly in bright sunlight)
  • Squint
  • Headaches or eyestrain

Risk Factors

Children under nine years of age whose vision is still developing are at highest risk for amblyopia. Generally, the younger the child, the greater the success of treatment. An older child may not achieve normal vision with treatment.

What You Can Do to Reduce Risk

Since amblyopia is caused by many conditions, such as strabismus, near-sightedness (myopia) or far-sightedness (hyperopia), the diagnosis and successful treatment of these vision conditions should reduce the risk of amblyopia.


Amblyopia can often be reversed, or at least reduced, if it is detected and treated early. Cooperation of the patient and parents is required to achieve good results. If left untreated or if not treated properly, the reduced vision of amblyopia becomes permanent and vision cannot be improved by any means.

The most effective way of treating amblyopia is to encourage the child to use the amblyopic eye. Covering or patching the good eye to force use of the amblyopic eye may be necessary to ensure equal and normal vision. This can be achieved by:

  • prescribing proper spectacles if the patient is found to have refractive error or accommodative esotropia;
  • prescription of drops such as Phospholine Iodide to reduce the accommodative effort that causes accommodative esotropia;
  • removal of cataract when indicated;
  • occluding the normal eye, for example, with a patch;
  • surgery, when amblyopia is accompanied by strabismus and is unresponsive to conservative treatment.

When occlusion is decided upon, the treatment may vary from a few hours to months or even years depending upon the age of patient, the type and severity of amblyopia, and the response. In cases experiencing less severe amblyopia, partial occlusion, such as that by making one glass frosted, may be sufficient. Older children can do reading exercises at home while patching the normal eye. Those patients who are patching their eyes need periodic follow-up, which is scheduled with an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Facts on Patching

  • Patching is not a pleasant thing for a child, so initially the child will be reluctant to undergo it. It is our duty to encourage the child to understand the importance of cooperation.

  • In a young child, patching is done for shorter periods initially; the duration is increased gradually to obtain better compliance.

  • Acceptance is good as soon as vision is increased in the ambloypic eye.

  • Method of patching should be according to the circumstances of the child:

    • Patch should be placed directly on the face over the eye.
    • If the child wears glasses, the patch should be placed over the eye, not on the glasses.
    • Glasses can also be used as an occluder in older children.
    • Many children try to take the patch off. This problem usually disappears as the child grows accustomed to wearing the patch.
    • Precautions must be taken to prevent the child from peeking around the edge of the patch.
    • Patching schedules should be followed strictly.
    • Patching should not be stopped abruptly. The program should be tapered only by ophthalmologists or optometrists.
    • Regular follow-up visits are a must.

Article Source:
Aravind Eye Hospitals and Postgraduate Institute of Ophthalmology:

© 2003 Aravind Eye Hospitals and Postgraduate Institute of Ophthalmology

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