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On Sight: June 2015

Find Some Shades to Celebrate Cataract Awareness Month

Justin in Sunglasses

All three types of sunglasses are available at the Sharper Vision Store

According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), more than half of Americans will either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery by age 80. A cataract is when the eye’s lens becomes clouded, directly affecting a person’s vision. Americans who develop cataracts in their lifetime are those who are cigarette smokers, those who don’t protect their eyes when in sunlight, and those with diabetes, as they have a greater chance of developing cataracts at a younger age.

The Council’s Education and Vision Services Director Jean Kalscheur recommends that this summer, people choose an effective, ultraviolet (UV) light-blocking pair of sunglasses to help prevent cataracts. Below are three tips to ensure you buy a good pair of shades:

  • Confirm that the sunglasses offer 100% UV-A and UV-B protection. Just like at the grocery store, read the label. Some labels will tell you they are 100% UV resistant, and others will say they have UV absorption up to 400nm, which also means they offer full protection.
  • Make sure the lenses are quality. Purchase sturdy lenses. Polycarbonate lenses are much sturdier than plastic or glass lenses and are the preferred lenses for sport sunglasses. Test the sunglasses’ lens quality by focusing on a straight line or vertical edge.  Move your head and eyes along the edge.  If the line wiggles or distorts, the lens may have an optical defect and you might want to look for a different pair of sun glasses.
  • Choose comfort over fashion. The goal of buying a good pair of sunglasses is that you can wear them. If you find out after a day of wearing your shades that they hurt your ears or give you headaches, return them and find a more comfortable pair. In addition, find the color tint that gives you the most contrast and is the most comfortable for your eyes.

The Council’s Sharper Vision Store carries many varieties of sunglasses with UV blocking lenses at our physical location in Madison as well as online at Other sources for sun glasses include your optometrist’s office, an eye glass store, and your local sporting goods store. 

I was Blind and Now I See?

This month’s featured article from the Outlook from Here blog


Theresa Sweeney Smith

Theresa Sweeney-Smith holding her baby granddaughter

By Theresa Sweeney-Smith

An older friend of mine at work had cataract surgery, and he came back to work without glasses! He was 80 years old at the time and I was amazed. Not only could he see distance, but he could read up close as well without his glasses. As I was already legally blind, this amazed me as a miracle.

In 2012, my eye doctor told me that the eye drop I had to use to offset the high pressure in my left eye had given me a cataract. I considered the option of surgery. I already had two laser surgeries and three other surgeries in this eye. I vowed that enough was enough.

As the cataract grew, my world became darker. I found myself somewhat disoriented just getting out of my office chair. It worked for my friend…would the surgery work for me?

I scheduled it. My husband took me in. My eye doctor, who is an excellent surgeon, came in to see me before the surgery. I did not see him until he was up next to my surgical bed. He was confident, calm and shared his optimism with me that the next 45 minutes would go well. The nurse came in and again I did not see her until she was next to me checking my IV, said she would see me very soon and my husband kissed me good luck.

I know the routine of eye surgery. I have the heart monitors on, the oxygen rater on my finger. Oxygen is placed in my nose and the surgical assistant has the tray prepared. The anesthesiologist tells me that he will take good care of me. The sterile field is placed over my face and they begin.

I come out of the twilight. I am groggy and open my eyes. They wheel me back into recovery. My husband is sitting next to me and I remember the moment: The nurse walked in through the curtain. Did you hear what I said? THE NURSE WALKED THROUGH THE CURTAIN! And I saw her coming! I gasped and everyone came closer. I exclaimed, “I saw you come in the curtain! I can see the curtain! I can see the face of my husband and he is pretty cute!”

I never knew how much I could not see until I saw the face of my beautiful granddaughter with strawberry blond hair and bluest eyes ever. My sight will continue to deteriorate, but I will always remember the miracle. I was blind and now I see.


Sharper Vision Store Product Feature: Odin VI

Odin Phone

The ODIN VI is a talking cell phone that is 100 percent accessible to the blind. It speaks everything that is on the screen, speaks the keys that you press and even prompts you to perform certain functions. Create your own contacts and move through your contact list to hear the names read out loud. Write text messages and hear your incoming messages spoken to you. Access your call log to learn which calls you missed. The ODIN VI speaks the caller ID, as well as the amount of battery charge, the signal strength and the time and date. You can even select between a few different voices and choose between a white on black or black on white display. The exterior of the phone is black. The Odin VI may be used with service from AT&T, T-Mobile or any other GSM provider.


Item # HC800 $200.00 


Save the Dates: Fox Valley Low Vision Fair and Dining in the Dark

The Council is going to be in the Fox Valley area late August. Please join us for the following events:

Thursday, August 27th:
Dining in the Dark at GingeRootz Asian Grille in Appleton, WI
Reservations will start in early August. Email Lori at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to ensure you receive the latest updates!

Friday, August 28th:
Fox Valley Low Vision Fair at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, WI

For more details on how to become involved, contact Jean at 608-237-8106.


 White Cane Appeal Thermometer 

We are currently at 73% of our goal and have raised $16,800 since the campaign began in early May.
Thank you for your support!

White Cane Thermometer