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On Sight: November 2015

November is “Diabetic Eye Disease Month”


People with diabetes are twice as likely to get eye diseases like cataracts and glaucoma.

As we recognize Diabetic Eye Disease Month, it’s important to know what diabetic eye disease is and how to take steps to prevent it.

According to the National Eye Institute, diabetic eye disease is a group of eye problems people with diabetes may get, which include the following:

- Diabetic retinopathy – Causes harm to the blood vessels in the retina. The retina is the layer of tissue in the back of the eye that is sensitive to light.

- Cataract – Causes the eye lens to get cloudy.

- Glaucoma – Causes damage to the optic nerve that can lead to vision loss.

All of these problems can lead to vision loss or blindness. Anyone with diabetes can get one of these diseases. The longer a person has diabetes, the higher the risk of developing diabetic eye disease.

Diabetic retinopathy tends to be a major cause of blindness for people with diabetes. This occurs when blood vessels in the retina become weak and leak fluid. It can also occur when new blood vessels form along the surface of the retina. New blood vessels forming on the surface can bleed into the eye and prevent vision.

In the initial stages of diabetic retinopathy, there may be no symptoms or pain. If some blood vessels emit fluid or bleed, vision could start to blur. An eye care professional can determine if someone has the disease by conducting a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

The disease is often treated through laser eye surgery, which can close or shrink the new abnormal blood vessels that can leak blood into the eye and cause vision loss. It can also slow or halt the fluid leakage from retina vessels. New treatments include injections of drugs into the eye to prevent leakage, which often leads to improved vision.

Other eye diseases that could affect people with diabetes include glaucoma and the formation of cataracts. Cataracts can be treated with surgery, while glaucoma is treatable with both medicine and surgery.

To prevent eye disease, people with diabetes should keep blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol under control. They should also have regular comprehensive dilated eye exams at least once a year. Women who are pregnant with diabetes should see their eye care professional regularly throughout their pregnancy.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also important. A person with diabetes should follow these steps:

- Take medications as prescribed by your doctor

- Reach and maintain a healthy weight

- Add physical activity to your day

- Control your ABCs: A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol levels

Jean Kalscheur, Council Education and Vision Services Director, provides her insight into prevention.

“The most important thing is to get an annual dilated eye exam for persons with diabetes, as that is the only way your eye doctor knows if something is happening,” Kalscheur said. “The earlier the treatment, the better.”

For more information, visit:


White Cane Safety Day Celebrated on October 15


October 15 marked White Cane Safety Day in Wisconsin and across the nation.

On October 15, the Council celebrated White Cane Safety Day, a national observance that honors the dignity and independence of people who are blind or visually impaired.

In Milwaukee, Mayor Tom Barrett declared October 15 White Cane Safety Day. The city council of Beloit also recognized this observance on Monday, October 19.

The White Cane Safety Law, which was established in Wisconsin in 1947, states that motorists must always stop for a blind or visually impaired person using a white cane in a crosswalk.


Bidding Against Blindness


The Council’s online auction is in full swing. Log on to to support the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired by bidding on items.

If you’ve never participated in an online auction, here’s how it works. When you log on to you’ll see all items that are up for bid. Choose the category (i.e. dining, tickets, memorabilia) you’re interested in, or browse all the items. To place a bid, you will need to enter your credit or debit card information. Be assured that nothing will be charged to your card unless you are the highest bidder when the auction closes on November 18.

You can place as many bids as you want. When someone outbids you on an item, you will be notified by email. Return to the auction website frequently to increase your bid or to bid on other items.

Bidding ends Wednesday, November 18 at 8:00 pm. As the deadline for bidding approaches, check the items that interest you frequently so you don’t miss out. You will be notified by email late on November 18 if you were the highest bidder on any item.

If you have questions about the auction, call Lori Werbeckes, Fund Development Director, at 608-237-8114 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   

Thank you to the businesses and individuals who donated auction items.  Your generosity makes this auction a fun and fund-filled event! 


Sharper Vision Store Product Feature:

Talking Blood Pressure Monitor


This fully featured talking blood pressure monitor from A&D Medical is equipped with innovations in cuff design, pressurization, and deflation. The TriCheck reading provides advanced averaging of three consecutive readings. 

The SmoothFit cuff (9 inches to 14.6 inches) included with meter is designed to make measuring your blood pressure an easier process. The 3A Technology provides advanced pressurization and deflation for faster, more accurate readings. 

This monitor is great for low vision individuals, also including a 90 reading memory recall, irregular heartbeat detection, verbal readings in English, Spanish, or French, time and date stamping, and a pressure rating indicator to categorize the results according to World Health Organization guidelines. 

Item # HM272, $115

To learn more about this and other related products, call the Sharper Vision Store at 608-237-8100 or visit


Council Teams with Willy Street Co-op for Instructional Class


Attendees take part in “CHIP Chat” at Willy Street Co-op on October 26.

On October 26, the Council joined the Willy Street Co-op in Madison for “CHIP Chat: Open Your Eyes and Restaurant to Persons with Vision Loss,” a special instructional class offering education on how to better serve persons with vision loss.

Participants in the class said the information was very effective, the materials were presented in an organized manner and the program met their expectations.

“I am so thrilled to learn that the Council is doing community outreach and education,” said one participant. “Thank you for taking the time to reach us about working with visually impaired customers.”  


Consider a Donation to the Council

This time of year is so important to the Council. Why? Because it is the time when people make their annual decisions about which charities will receive their support. When making your choices, please consider making a gift to the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired.

Throughout the year your gifts helped hundreds of people:

  • Learn techniques to make their homes safer
  • Reconnect to friends and family through technology
  • Realize their goal of reading again!

Low vision affects every aspect of a person’s life. Your support of the Council enables us to help individuals where they need the assistance. Go to to make a gift that will make a difference for someone with vision loss.


Upcoming Council Events:

Thursday, November 12  

Upcoming Webinar – Exploring the Low Vision Exam and Adaptive Products for Persons with Low Vision

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Join us for our final webinar of the year. This FREE, 60-minute webinar will include a video segment explaining how the low vision exam is done by our Low Vision Therapist, Amy Wurf. Sharper Vision Store Manager Brent Perzentka will demonstrate the most requested adaptive products from our store and introduce you to the Odin phone, a simple-to-use voice guided cell phone.

Register online at under the “Events” tab or by calling 1-800-783-5213.


Council Office Closed for Thanksgiving


The Council office and the Sharper Vision Store will be closed Thursday, November 26 and Friday, November 27 for Thanksgiving. We hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving surrounded by friends and family.