The Outlook

Official Newsletter of the Sight-Loss
Support Group of Central PA, Inc

The Sight-Loss Support Group of Central Pennsylvania, Inc.
Turning Darkness into Light Since 1982

P.O. Box 782, Lemont, PA  16851            814-238-0132

Summer/Fall 2018




September 13: Boal Museum Tour and Cookout

For our September Second Thursdays meeting, don’t look for us at Mt Nittany Residences – we’ll be at the Columbus Chapel & Boal Mansion Museum in Boalsburg for a tour of this historical treasure in our own backyard. Afterwards, we’ll picnic on the Museum grounds. Our grill masters will serve up hamburgers and hot dogs with lots of yummy side dishes.

The tour will be conducted by Museum docents and we’ll be accompanied by audio describers from the Sight-Loss Support Group. As we tour the Mansion, the Chapel, and the new Columbus exhibit, chairs will be available in each room. Golf carts will also be available for anyone who prefers to ride rather than walk between various buildings and then to the picnic area.

If you’ve never visited the Boal Museum before, prepare yourself for a rare treat. A visit to the Georgian-style home is a fascinating walk through American history, told through eight generations of the Boal family who lived in the mansion for over 200 years. The house and its rich collections of original furnishings, beautiful artwork, and unusual artifacts tell a rags-to-riches story of the Boal family, from the humble beginnings in 1809 of a Scottish-Irish pioneer to a prominent, influential family. The Boals had ties to Spain, France, U.S. presidents, and Christopher Columbus, and yet they were rooted in central Pennsylvania, founding and growing Boalsburg Village, and being instrumental in the founding of Penn State University. But there’s always more to the story, especially at the Boal Museum. To find out what an authentic Renaissance European chapel is doing on the grounds of the Museum, join us for this memorable tour on September 13th.

Reservations are needed for the tour and cookout, so please RSVP as soon as possible (if you have not already done so) by calling the Sight-Loss Support Group at 814-238-0132. You are welcome to bring a companion. The tour begins at 10:30 am; please arrive at the Museum’s Visitor Center by 10:15 am. The picnic will conclude around 1:30 pm.


October 11: We resume our meetings at Mt Nittany Residences.


November 8: Dr. Tracy Sepich of Restore Eye Care

Dr. Tracy Sepich and her new occupational therapist, Rachel Partner, will be our guest speakers in November. The practice of Restore Eye Care, in addition to providing primary eye care, specializes in the care of the visually impaired and vision therapy. Please join us for this special program.


December 13: Christmas Party

Come celebrate the spirit of the season and feast! Everyone is welcome. If you’ve never been to Second Thursdays before we’d love to meet you. Please RSVP by calling the office at 238-0132.



CHESS (Musical): Saturday, September 15, 7:30 pm, Schwab Auditorium.

FUSE Productions presents Chess, a “Cold-War Rock Musical” by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA, and Tim Rice. An ill-mannered American grand-master and an intense Soviet champion form a love triangle with a woman who manages one man, while falling in love with the other. Note: Audio-description (A-D) service is for the Saturday, September 15 performance only. Tickets are available through FUSE at or phone (814)-380-8672; ask for reduced "student" price. Please reserve the A-D service by September 1, and be seated by 7:15 pm.

BALLET HISPANICO (Modern Dance): Wednesday, October 17, 7:30 pm, Eisenhower Auditorium.

The Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State (CPA) presents Ballet Hispanico, an exciting modern dance company that explores the diversity of Latino culture through a fusion of classical, latin, and contemporary dance powered by theatricality and passion. Tickets* are necessary; please reserve the A-D service by October 3, 2018.


SOMETHING ROTTEN (Musical): Wednesday, November 7, 7:30 pm, Eisenhower Auditorium.

The CPA presents Something Rotten, an original musical comedy. Set in 1595, brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are desperate to find success in the theatrical world, as they compete with the wild popularity of their contemporary, William Shakespeare. They decide to combine his inspiration with song and dance to create the world’s first musical. Tickets* are necessary; please reserve the A-D service by October 24, 2018.


*Ticket Information for the CPA (Eisenhower Auditorium): Tickets are may be purchased by calling the Center for the Performing Arts at (814)-863-0255 or (800)-ARTS-TIX. A limited number of complimentary tickets are available for Eisenhower shows for patrons with sight-loss and a guest through their Accessibility Program; phone the Eisenhower Auditorium, (814)-865-5011, and ask for Joi McKenzie.

Tickets for all 2018/2019 performances at the CPA at Penn State are now on sale! For the best seats, buy your tickets early. For a complete list with ticket information, call the ticket office at 814-863-ARTSTIX, or check the CPA audio description web page at

Finding Neverland January 23, 2019

Me...Jane, February 10, 2019

Beautiful (Carole King) February 24 matinee

The King and I March 28, 2019

Kinky Boots April 10, 2019

Tip: View the calendar page of the Sight-Loss Support Group's website at for more information and updates.



Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” - Hippocrates


Dr. Eliot Berson spent his career studying the retina and chasing after the incurable eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa (RP), that has stumped the pharmaceutical industry for decades and puzzled doctors for more than a century. Retinitis pigmentosa is a neurodegeneration of the retina dictated by genetic defects resulting in a slow, progressive loss of the light-sensing cells of the retina, the rods and cones.


Dr. Berson, an ophthalmologist at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, was inspired to think deeply about diet by many of his patients with RP who experimented with changing their diets and trying supplements. Deciding to study these self-treaters more formally, Berson and his colleagues performed food-frequency questionnaires that asked patients specific questions about their dietary intake. To his surprise, he found that people who ate the highest amount of vitamin A (through food and supplements) had the lowest rates of vision loss. Clinical trials over the past two decades found that vitamin A palmitate did slow vision loss and when combined with a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish), patients had a 40 to 50 percent slower loss of visual fields.


Intense genetics research over the last two decades has identified mutations in nearly 200 genes that can cause RP, and yet we really understand very little – from a molecular and cellular basis – about how the condition actually progresses. There is promising research on many fronts but currently there are no cures and no medical interventions or medicines other than nutrition.


Let’s talk a bit about nutrition - cellular nutrition in particular. What fuels your cells and the chemistry of life comes from what you feed yourself. Cellular nutrition is everything – it is the very basis of health. The foods you eat have everything to do with your cells’ ability to function and how likely it will be that your genetic susceptibilities will be activated. It all comes down to the cell because when cells malfunction, eventually organs malfunction, and eventually you malfunction.


Remember back to your high school biology class. The heart of the cell is the nucleus which contains genetic instructions, your DNA. Also floating about in cellular space are the engines that power the cell – your mitochondria. These engines need fuel, high quality fuel from the food you eat. The more energy a particular cell needs, the more mitochondria it requires to churn out that energy. The retina and the brain contain a lot more mitochondria than most other cells. Seeing and thinking are high energy activities. Over one-third of our brain function serves our vision.


For our cells to efficiently perform their vital functions of building, maintaining, repairing and eliminating toxic waste our hardworking mitochondrial engines need to be infused with nutrients. A proper diet will facilitate this process. We cannot change the genes we were born with, but we can optimize, through an accumulation of choices, the cellular environment of our genes. It is this environment that determines which genes are active, or “turned on” and which genes are inactive or “turned off.” Genetics do play a role in determining your health, but they are not necessarily your destiny.


Biochemistry is complex, and the workings of the human body are unimaginably intricate and involved. We are still learning how lifestyle factors like diet, environmental pollutants, exercise, stress, vitamin D levels, hormone balance – even attitude and approach to life – can turn on harmful genes and trigger a cascade of dysfunctional biochemical reactions.


You can influence your health by the accumulation of choices you make. Food cannot do everything, but we can make the decision to give our bodies the nutrition needed to keep our mitochondria in peak performance. Strong mitochondria = cells with the energy they need to function properly = a body that works as it should. An improper diet derails this process leading to mitochondrial strain, dysfunctional cells, rapid aging, and the prospect of chronic disease.


For those of us with vision loss, especially those with a progressive eye disease, it is particularly important to ask ourselves, “Am I giving my mitochondria what they need?” By turning to nature’s pharmacy and eating nutrient-rich foods, we’re laying the foundation for healthy eyes and a healthy body. The results of clinical trials and research reported in medical journals point to a link between nutrition and eye health. Maybe, just maybe, we can slow the degeneration of our retinal cells and prolong our vision.


Let thy food be thy medicine…………Hippocrates was on to something 2,500 years ago.


* Don’t take the high level of vitamin A palmitate (15,000 IUs) without a doctor’s supervision. It can be toxic to the liver; liver levels must be monitored on a regular basis. Research shows that vitamin A therapy may help some RP patients but not all. Your ophthalmologist can tell you if this treatment is advisable for you.




Certain nutrients are vital for eye growth and development. They are obtained in one of two ways: as vitamin A, in sources such as liver, fish, oils, egg yolks, and dairy products, and as a precursor to vitamin A, called carotenoids (such as beta-carotene or alpha-carotene), which are found in colorful fruits and vegetables like carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, apricots, and leafy greens. Other carotenoids are lutein and zeaxanthin which are found in high concentrations in dark green vegetables, especially spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, romaine lettuce, squash, broccoli, peas, and brussels sprouts. Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables including oranges, papayas, tangerines, peaches, corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, and carrots are also rich in these nutrients.


Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that are found naturally in the macula (the center of the retina) and need to be replenished regularly. There is some evidence that consuming a diet rich in carotenoids may reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.


Another class of nutrients is polyphenols, a large class of chemical compounds synthesized by fruits and vegetables that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic properties. The major sources of polyphenols are flavonoids, which may help blood flow to the retina while fighting free-radical damage from ultraviolet sunrays. Flavonoids are plentiful in broccoli, blueberries, limes, oranges, lemons, onions, apples, pomegranates, and tomatoes.


Other foods to look for:


  • Foods containing selenium (protects cells from damage caused by free radicals) - found in brown rice, wheat, eggs, tuna, shrimp, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts and chicken.

  • Foods strong in vitamin D3 (helps the body absorb calcium) – found in fortified milk, salmon, mackerel, sardines, egg yolks, and beef liver.

  • Foods rich in vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant) – found in red and green bell peppers, fruits, cauliflower, and green cabbage.

  • Foods rich in vitamin E (another powerful antioxidant) – found in broccoli, peanuts, almonds, avocados, mangoes, and sunflower seeds.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (supports the healthy development of the brain, nerves, and eyes) – plentiful in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines. Other forms are found in flaxseeds, walnuts, squash, tofu, and soybeans.

  • Zinc (may slow the progression of macular degeneration) – sources include meat, seafood, nuts, and whole grains.

  • Anthocyanin (may help bolster collagen structure in the retina) – found in grapes, blueberries, pomegranates, and cranberries.

  • Lycopene (part of the carotenoid family) – found in fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, pink grapefruits, watermelon, and papayas.


We’ll need some help to remember all this. Here are three books to help you eat right for your sight.

Healthy Vision: Prevent and Reverse Eye Disease Through Better Nutrition by Neal Adams, MD

Eat Right for Your Sight by Jennifer Trainer Thompson and Johanna M. Seddon, MD, ScM

The Eye Care Revolution by Robert Abel, Jr. MD



Thank you for nearly 20 years of devotion to the Sight-Loss Support Group’s audio-description program, View Via Voice! Nanette recently retired as an audio describer and we will miss her greatly. Nanette has been with the program from the beginning; she trained in the very first class of audio describers in 1999 and has been audio describing ever since. Over the years Nanette served as both the coordinator and co-coordinator of the audio-description program. Her commitment and sense of mission were instrumental in creating the successful and enduring audio-description program we enjoy today (the first audio-description program in Pennsylvania).

Making the arts accessible to blind and partially sighted people entered Nanette’s life when she met Rana Arnold in the mid-1990s at a conference. Thus began an enduring friendship and a passion for enabling people with vision loss to regain their enjoyment of the performing and visual arts. In addition to her role as an audio describer and coordinator of the program, Nanette trained and mentored new describers and presented numerous outreach programs locally, nationally, and internationally. Nanette was also one of original Festival Eyes guides, escorting visually impaired people through the local summer arts festivals.

Nanette’s dedication extended to the Sight-Loss Support Group of Central PA as well, being a long-time member of the board of directors. Over the years Nanette has clocked countless miles from her home in Altoona to State College for performances, previews of performances, outreach presentations, meetings, and trainings. It’s hard to keep a good woman down. Thank you for all the trips and all the years Nanette!



Our sight-loss community lost two bright stars in 2018, Harold Singer and Don Hazle.

Harold Singer passed away on February 23, 2018 at the age of 94. Harold was a long-standing member of the Sight-Loss Support Group and served on the board of directors into his early nineties. Each month Harold arrived at the Sight-Loss Support Group office, part of a small force of worker-bees that prepared the newsletter for mailing. He came faithfully, in search of a good cup of coffee, country western tunes, and good conversation. Harold was a dapper gentleman and he brightened our lives for so many years. He will be missed and remembered by family and friends whose many lives he touched.


Don Hazle passed away unexpectedly on April 18, 2018 during surgery at the age of 71. It was much too soon to lose a man that touched the lives of so many visually impaired people. Long before Don retired from Penn State’s Health and Human Development Department, he found himself helping blind people learn to use assistive technology, a critical link to achieving independence and job security. Don’s work in assistive technology became a life-long passion. Upon his retirement from Penn State, this work became Don’s full-time mission. He was a sought-after expert in the rapidly evolving field of assistive technology. Don drove the highways and byways of central Pennsylvania to work with clients who wanted to master the assistive devices needed to achieve independence. If you are visually impaired and live in central Pennsylvania, chances are you’ve worked with Don. We will miss this caring and devoted champion of people who are blind and partially sighted.


Sight-Loss Support Group of Central PA, Inc.

P.O. Box 782

Lemont, PA 16851



Sept. 13 Boal Mansion Tour and Cookout

Oct. 11 Meeting/Lunch at Mt. Nittany Residences

Nov. 8 Dr.Tracy Sepich of Restore Eye Care

Dec. 13 Christmas Party



Sept. 15 Chess

Oct. 17 Ballet Hispanico

Nov. 7 Something Rotten


Remember to check our website (

for announcements, updates, and further information, and to follow

Sight-Loss Support Group of Central PA Inc” on Facebook.



August 2018