By: Hannah Paczkowski
When 89-year-old Joe Smith looks at a book, he sees a blurry and distorted picture.
"If I look at you, if I look at your nose it gets up there," Smith said pointing up.
Smith is one of nearly 7 million Americans over the age of 65 struggling with low vision.
He has macular degeneration in his right eye and suffered a series of accidents to his left. After nearly 10 surgeries, his vision is still less than satisfactory.
Thankfully, he has equipment to help him cope with his low vision.
He said one of his favorite tools are the cocoons. They're glasses that help cut the glare and help him see clearly.
"I can look into the light and seem to cut the light down, but still you can see what you're looking at," Smith said.
Doctors at the satellite Low Vision Clinic at the Taylor Meadows Medical Center help patients, like Smith, with rehabilitation.
"What we can do is help them to learn how to maneuver their vision in such a way to bring in better areas of vision and then also taking advantage of things, make print or what they're looking at bigger, bolder and brighter," Dr. John Shepherd, Ophthalmologist from UNMC, said.
For instance, one machine can magnify anything Smith is looking at by the push of a button. He also has a pair of glasses that help him get a better look of his paintings.
"I've forgotten some of the details," he said.
Though he struggles with day-to-day tasks, Smith said he's still thankful for what he has.
"A lot of people when they're old like me, they get crippled up and I think we all just take it or lump it, there's no other way out," Smith said.
The Low Vision Clinic is part of the Weigel Williamson Center for Visual Rehabilitation at UNMC in Omaha. If you do have permanent eye disabilities, you can do their satellite clinic. For information call 402-559-2463.