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Looking on the Bright Side

Posted: 2022-07-22

Source: UCI Health Gavin Herbert Eye Institute Shine the Light
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As the retired vice president of Cerritos College, Fran Newman, Ed.D, is a voracious reader and writer. She also volunteers with local charities and enjoys water skiing and daily runs on the beach. When she was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) — which has made her legally blind in one eye — she feared that life would pass her by.

Through the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute Low Vision Rehabilitation Program, occupational therapist Nilima Tanna has enabled Newman to remain independent and continue doing what she loves.

Over the course of three visits to Newman’s Newport Beach home, Tanna marked frequently used buttons on her microwave and stove with bright orange puffy paint. She recommended using a different type of light bulb, arranged access to audio books on Newman’s computer and showed her how to use her iPhone’s magnification app. Tanna also demonstrated how wearing a sun visor in her home office could reduce bothersome glare.

But Newman’s favorite tool by far is a digital reading machine that enlarges any text. She uses it daily to read books about leadership and write summaries for busy executives. 

“It’s so easy to want to give up when you have age related macular degeneration because there’s no cure for it,” says Newman. “But Nilima and the eye institute team have given me such useful and practical ways to help me cope with daily life.”

Newman first became acquainted with the eye institute several years ago when she attended a presentation for senior citizens given by Director Baruch Kuppermann, MD, PhD. Impressed, she joined the eye institute’s support group for AMD and low vision, then started seeing Mohammad Riazi Esfahani, MD, for her AMD and Marjan Farid, MD, for cataracts and dry eye disease.

“It means so much to me to have ophthalmologists who can help with the medical aspect and low-vision optometrists to help with daily life,” says Newman. “ The Gavin Herbert Eye Institute is so comprehensive and the low-vision program has given me so much confidence that I don’t have to be a victim of my macular degeneration.”

Fran Newman