Life with MS

Program Helps Put Things in FOCUS

By Kimani Hendricks
Once upon a time, technology meant electric lights, a telephone, or listening to a Victrola. Only a few decades later, video killed the radio star, and right on its heels were computers. Presently, televisions, smartphones, and computer processors alike have astronomically advanced, and yet, technology hasn't stopped there.

At this time, it seems most things are directly at our fingertips. We have the technology to assist us with almost any task. But what if MS means you need to alter the way you do things? Enter the Assistive Technology Program.

Developed 25 years ago, MS Focus designed this program to help individuals with multiple sclerosis afford devices that will assist them throughout their daily activities. Items such as scooters, canes, and even voice recognition software are among the full range of things MS Focus provides through this grant. Because technology is so vast, the list of devices is unending. Some are high-tech, and some – such as magnifiers or glasses for people with low vision – are simple but effective.

In MS, vision problems are just as common as mobility issues, yet they often receive less attention. Thankfully, there are many aids for vision that can significantly improve a person’s quality of life.

Toni Williams of Shinglehouse, Penn., experienced her first MS symptoms as a sophomore in high school. In 1990, she finally was diagnosed with MS. Before her diagnosis, she had to contend with double vision as a result of a detached retina in one eye.

Recently, her optometrist suggested prism glasses, which “made me feel like Frankenstein upon trying them on, but I was thrilled for the progress!” After the removal of cataracts, she needed a new prescription and reached out to MS Focus: the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation for help. “They encouraged me to apply for the Assistive Technology Program. You will never know how it felt to see clearly again. I'd had double vision for years, and I tried everything from frosted lenses to eye patches. None of them worked for me.”

Born with crossed eyes, Cynthia from Statesville, N.C., was diagnosed with MS in 2018 after her eye problems led to an MRI to rule out a tumor. Her MS specialist referred her to MS Focus. “It was there when I found out about the Assistive Technology Program. Between them and my eye care facility, I was able to afford a pair of eyeglasses. They were great people, and I couldn't ask for anybody better.”

Vision care tools and techniques are evolving in the blink of an eye. Assistance through the MS Focus Assistive Technology Program can steer you in a much clearer direction.