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Audio version of November 2018 Newsletter

Sierra Services for the Blind

Newsletter  -  November 2018

"The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision."

~Helen Keller


Changes in Glaucoma Surgery

In a recent article in Gleams, the publication for glaucoma research, Dr. Davinder Grover states that in the last 5-10 years there has been a revolution in glaucoma surgery.  The new surgery is called MiGS, Micro Invasive Glaucoma Surgery, which uses laser technology to create a more efficient draining of excess ocular fluid pressure in the eye when the normal system begins to fail.  This means present surgeries which place an implant in the eye are occurring less often in mild cases and can lessen the damage to the optic nerve causing blindness.  Simply, if they catch it early they can create the drain without using an implant.  This means thousands of patients with the early signs of glaucoma can have their vision saved.  Mixed with medications blindness can be diminished to a greater extent.

There are concerns however, one being that if done later when some vision is lost the recovery time is longer than with the implants.  This requires a longer period of follow up and insurance coverage may not cover all expenses.  It is also a procedure for lower levels of pressure not as effective if pressure is high.

MEGS is an example of how medical research is looking for a less invasive approach to vision problems.  And, the more progressive approach in the early stages which will save vision longer and allow the doctor to treat the patient at different levels of vision loss.  The patient will not have to make the all or nothing choice when it comes to their vision treatment.  Added to the discovery that oxygen level to the optic nerve and other advancements, glaucoma will be less of a problem in years to come.  It is different than other eye diseases which are being treated with genetic solutions.  And, that requires a whole different set of programs in research.  Ocular pressure is the symptom as well as the problem, and the solution is more complex as the Oxygen studies indicate.  Research in the regeneration of the optic nerve is just beginning.  Oxygen studies have shown that you must first know the problem better. 


"We have found a cure for most evils, but we have found no remedy for the worst of them all.

The apathy of human beings."

                                                                                     ~ Helen Keller


Lions Clubs Support Vision

Local chapters of Lions International have long been known by their original name, Knights of the Blind.  Organized to fight blindness they have always helped local residents who have vision problems and have not had the financial ability to accommodate their need.  If you are experiencing vision loss and cannot afford glasses, they have been providing financing for the doctor visit, and for the glasses as well.  They are especially dedicated to vision loss in children.  They have also supported agencies like Sierra Services for the Blind throughout the nation with funding and access to vision services, and have sent doctors all over the world with glasses collected by local doctors and agencies in the United States.

Through the Northern California Lions 4-C5 district they pay for surgeries.  And, it was NCLSA that recently donated the new van to Sierra Services.

If you have old glasses you do not need you can put them in Lions drop boxes at some markets, or at our office.  They will be used for low income individuals in both the United States and other nations where the only service to vision is through the Lions visiting doctors.  If you have low vision and are low income, contact your local Lions club.  For information on which club is local to you and serves your neighborhood call the Sierra Services office at 265-2121.

If you are interested in serving in a Lions Club and participating in the fight against vision loss we can also direct you to a club near you.  Like all service organizations, it is membership that makes them work, and Lions like the many others are always in need of new members.


"What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me."

~ Helen Keller


Where comes inspiration?

There is more than one way we are compensated in life.  As members of the staff we have an opportunity to meet every kind, type, and character of humanity there is.  We often speak of the very first peer counseling group we had as an example of what we ourselves gain from those we come in contact with.

It was a group of women, one an opera singer from San Francisco, one was born in Grass Valley and spent 44 years working in the cafeteria of the high school.  One owned one of the largest private businesses in town, another a farmer’s wife with nine kids spread over twenty years.  One had lived all over the world, spoke many languages and had three doctoral degrees.  Another was a typical working mother who lived the typical suburban life we hear so much about.  In the course of their lives they would never have met each other accept by chance.  Their experiences in both life and family were totally separate.

At first they had but one thing in common.  The loss of vision.

Within a few short weeks they were the best of friends.  They each told us how those meetings had enriched their lives not only in their ability to accommodate their vision loss, but in the chance they had to learn of each other.  They came with one other thing to the meetings they had not expected.  The chance to learn from each other’s lives.  The chance to hear the stories of life each had experienced, and the depth of character of each in the room.  Those who would be considered successful found the wisdom of those who had experienced life in a more simple way had a common sense approach to everything they had experienced.  They were not dazzled by where someone had been, but interested in what they learned there.  Those who had lived more common lives saw in those with resume lives ideas and impressions they found fascinating.  The story of one’s children often overshadowed the bright lights of far off places, while the bright lights gave wings to the imagination to others.

What they found was not the differences they had, but the commonality that life brings to those who live not by how fast or far they traveled, but by how they enjoyed the trip along the way.  The experiences which brought learning to their lives were more likely found not in the places they had been, but in the people they met along the way.

That is the true purpose and the strength of what we do at Sierra Services for the Blind.  It is a lesson in humanity, not a series of meetings attended, or services performed.  It is the real compensation we who are members of the staff are granted.  And for that we thank every client that has entered our door.


"The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.

They must be felt in the heart."

~ Helen Keller


Mexican Dinner success

This year’s annual Mexican Dinner fund raising event was the largest we ever had.  We served 102 dinners, surpassing the Lasagna Dinner in winter and the 94 served at one of the Abalone dinners.  It also attests to the idea that fund raisers are really friend raisers.  As we have said in each newsletter, an agency that is 100% self-funded the process of raising funding is never ending.  Having B&C Home and Garden center for a second place to buy tickets has helped, and now we have made it possible to order tickets on line through our web site at  The same will be true of the Golf Tournament where online payments will help considerably.  We also have a way for you to make donations online.

Estate donations have been an important part of our support and we rely on them for our continued existence.  We encourage you to consider adding a donation to Sierra Service for the Blind as a part of your estate planning.  Contact the office if you have any questions.


"What we have once enjoyed we can never lose.  All that we love deeply becomes a part of us."

~ Helen Keller


Unfortunately one of the things we run into constantly is the frustration experienced by the generation that is referred to as the “Caregivers”.  They are the spouse, or the children of an individual who is having a health or age related problem.  Some cases can be simple, you have to help them get to the doctor, or the bank, or in the case of children simply remember to keep contact with them while you balance a busy life and a family of your own.  In the case where dementia or Alzheimer’s it can be difficult not only in how you need to react to their needs, but when you have to watch that one you have loved for so long simply seem to fade away.  What is required is a lot of patience, and a bushel of understanding.

First you need to understand what is going on.  And, place yourself in their shoes now and then.  The person who can’t remember things, especially names and dates, is also frustrated.  If they show that frustration remember they are frustrated with themselves, not what you are trying to do for them.  They also see their ability to remain independent diminishing, and they know they are having to depend on you for things they have always done for themselves.  They also don’t want to be a burden.  In the case of Alzheimer’s, and with diabetics and others, anger is a side effect.  They show anger, and don’t know why.  Understand, don’t return the anger.

Educating yourself is important.  If you know what is happening you can understand it better.  The loss of vision has the same series of psychological steps as grief, and knowing them lets you know how to approach the problems when they come up.  First is Denial.  This can’t be happening to me, the doctor must be wrong.  Second is Anger.  I don’t deserve this and why does this always happen to me.  Third is Bargaining.  The search for the cure that is not there.  I’ll keep driving as long as I can so I don’t have to bother others.  When these first three can go on at the same time and change one to the other at any time.  The fourth stage, Depression, is more problematic.  There is no hope, why try.  Understand it, and don’t let it take you down the path with it.  They want to stay in bed, they think everything is futile and will always go wrong. And, the guilt trip of saying,” If you really cared.”  Left untreated this stage of depression, especially in the elderly, can lead to deterioration and demise earlier than necessary.  We are reminded, the diseases that cause blindness like macular degeneration do not cause other health problems unless you allow them to by just sitting and feeling left out and sorry for yourself.  The fifth stage is the goal, and that is Acceptance.  That time when you the caregiver, and the patient as well, accept the situation and set about doing something about it.

For the caregiver that includes taking care of yourself.  Once you accept the situation you can understand that what is happening in not something you did or did not do you think you should have.  Keep your schedule and spend time with your family as much as you can.  If you are tied let them know and take some time for yourself.  Take a break.  There may be someone else that can take that person to the doctor, it does not have to be you.  That is why Sierra Services has transportation as one of our largest programs.  It is most of what our volunteers do to make sure your family member gets to the doctor, to our counseling and community access programs.  That trip we provide the transportation to is your time to yourself.  It is time for that spouse to go to the store, get a haircut, or take a walk in the hills while we have their loved one for couple of hours.

Sierra Memorial Hospital Foundation has an educational program they put on more than once a year to assist caregivers.  The next one is in the Spring.  One of the things they do is let you know you are not alone just as we do in our peer groups.  There are others going through what you are and there is much to learn from the experiences they have had.  At that includes the moment you drop in a chair and are fed up with it all.  Your negative feelings are normal, and they too shall pass.  You are allowed to do through the five stages of grief, Denial, Anger, Bargaining and Depression, lead to Acceptance for you as well.  Even if you are the spouse you can take a long shower, tell the kids to shut up, grab a book, have a cup of coffee and watch the brightly colored leaves of fall dance in the wind now and then.  And, remember the good times you had with the person you once had with you on a day such as this.


"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it."

                                                                                          ~ Helen Keller


Where did the Salsa come from?

Many of the people who came to dinner commented on the salsa, and asked us where they could get some for themselves.  There is a story there.

 The salsa was made and donated by the son of our former Program Coordinator, Frank Durham who we lost to cancer.  The company is called Big Daddy Salsa Company, and is local to Nevada City.  If you only want a smaller quantity we can order it though the office by packaging a larger orders.  If you are interested call Sarah in the morning hours and she will add you to the order.  Booth the traditional red salsa, and his green apple salsa are available.  If you are interested call the office at 265-2121.  Ryan Durham is starting his business, and it is local, so it is our chance to give him some support.


"Although we can do so little, together we can do so much."

~ Helen Keller



Special Note: Sierra Services is now listed in the internet’s Giving Tuesday program.  It is an international program of non-profit donations on the internet which follows Cyber Monday.  This year it will be held on last Tuesday, Nov. 27th.  If you participate, please remember us. To find out more about our participation in #GivingTuesday or to donate online please visit our FUNDRAISING PAGE.


Support Sierra Services     through eScript!

Contact us or your favorite eScript store to sign up. 

  Locally, SPD and SAVEMART are participating in this program.

We are looking for volunteer drivers! Interested? Please talk with Niki

(530) 265-2121

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Information on the Or-Cam, a device that reads to the blind

Words of Wisdom

Around the Office

New From BARD

Cotton's War


By Phil Dunlap. Reading time: 7 hours, 54 minutes.
Read by Nelson Goud. A production of Indiana State Library, Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library.

Western Stories

When Virgil Cruz and his gang kidnap the woman he loves and threaten to kill her if he interferes with their plans, Sheriff Cotton Burke turns to Memphis Jack Stump, the only man he trusts to infiltrate Cruz's gang, for help. Some descriptions of sex, strong language, violence.


Smithsonian Magazine,

July 2018



The loss of the S.S. Titanic: its story and its lessons DB 91999

By Lawrence Beesley. Reading time 4 hours, 40 minutes.
Read by Steven Carpenter. A production of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress.

Subjects: Travel

Description: The personal record of one of the 705 survivors of the Titanic disaster in 1912. His eyewitness account is augmented by those of other passengers who were spared, contributing to a general report of events and behavior the night the ship sank within three hours of colliding with an iceberg. 1912.

BARD is a National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress.




Sierra Services for the Blind

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