Leading blindness and low vision service provider Vision Australia hopes a visit to Tamworth will encourage residents concerned about vision loss to seek support.
A Vision Australia orthoptist spent three days in the region in June conducting low vision assessments, which play a vital role in determining what services will best support people who are blind or have low vision.
The low vision assessments are part of a regular calendar of visits the not-for-profit organisation makes to the region to complement its permanent presence in the New England.
“Along with our occupational therapist who is based in Tamworth, we send staff to the region every six to eight weeks to support our new and existing clients,” Vision Australia New England Regional Manager Jodie Cox said.
“In the visit, our orthoptist examined clients who may have recently experienced vision loss or whose vision has further deteriorated. From there we worked with our clients to provide them with the appropriate support,” Mrs Cox said.
More than a dozen clients had their vision assessed this week in their own homes as part of the visit, however Mrs Cox said Vision Australia would like to see that number grow.
“When it comes to vision loss, early intervention can make a huge difference in both treatment and management which is why we want anybody concerned about their vision to speak up,” she said.
“Some conditions can be treated to slow or reverse vision loss, but it also means we have more time to work with the individual to put strategies in place that will help them live the life they choose.”
Support services are provided to clients in the New England through Vision Australia’s local occupational therapist and through regular visits by staff from Vision Australia’s other service areas, such as orientation and mobility and assistive technology.
“Staff from across the wide range of service we offer are regularly in the region to support those who need it,” Mrs Cox said.
“Whether it’s continuing to life in their own home, gaining or maintaining employment or being active in the community, our staff work in collaboration to support our clients in achieving their goals.”
Vision Australia / blind and low vision community statistics
• Vision Australia provided services to 26,400 clients in the 12 months to June 2016. The number of children receiving service was 2,395.
• Vision Australia estimates there are 384,000 people in Australia who are blind or have low vision. Of these 35,000 (approx. 10%) are blind and 322,000 (approx. 90%) have low vision
• The blind and low vision population in Australia grew by 7.2% to 357,000 (2013 population estimate) from 333,000 (2010 population data)
• Vision Australia predicts there will be 564,000 blind and low vision people in Australia by 2030, based on ABS population projections
• The most common causes of blindness and low vision are age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma.