Photo by Nathan Dumlao

The Facts More than 3.4 million (3%) Americans aged 40 years and older are either legally blind (having visual acuity [VA] of 20/200 or worse or a visual field of less than 20 degrees) or are visually impaired (having VA of 20/40 or less). The Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics estimates that 17% of the age 65 and older population report “vision trouble.” Twenty-one million Americans report functional vision problems or eye conditions that may compromise vision. Older people are more likely to experience vision loss because of age-related eye diseases. Prevalence of Visual Disability The following estimates (for adult’s age 16 and older reporting significant vision loss, who were

in the non-institutionalized, civilian population) are derived from the American Community Survey results for 2016, as interpreted by Cornell University's Employment and Disability Institute (EDI), unless otherwise credited.   The number of non-institutionalized, male or female, ages 16 through 75 +, all races, regardless of ethnicity, with all education levels in the United States reported to have a visual disability in 2016: Total (all ages): 7,675,600 (2.4%) Total (16 to 75+): 7,208,700 (2.83%) Women: 3,946,300 (3.01%) Men: 3,262,300 (2.65%) Age 16 to 64: 4,037,600 (2.0%) Age 65 and older: 3,171,100 (6.6%) According to the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), a rapidly increasing proportion of the aging adult population experiences eye problems that make simple daily tasks difficult or impossible, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses.  The risk of severe eye problems has been found to increase…

Service dogs have had a place in American healthcare for almost 100 years. While companion animals were relatively common in European mental institutions during the late 19th century, dogs were not incorporated into American therapy settings until 1919.  Guide dogs for the blind began being trained in the United States in 1929, after World War I left many veterans without their sight. Though the use of service animals expanded after World War II and the Korean War, it wasn’t until the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 that people with assistance dogs were guaranteed access to businesses and services available to the general public.  For National Service Dog Month, we will outline the programs available for those in need of assistance that could be filled by

a properly trained service animal as well as resources available for the health of our animal companions.   There are many different kinds of service animals that perform numerous tasks.  As mentioned above, therapy or companion animals can be a comfort to those with mental or emotional distress and guide dogs are able to navigate and retrieve items for the blind and visually impaired.  Hearing or signal dogs help people who are deaf or hard of hearing be alerted to the sound of their name, alarm clocks, doorbells, or smoke alarms. There are two different kinds of specially trained dog available for patients with seizure disorders. Some dogs can be trained to smell a change in blood sugar in a diabetic person’s breath and…