Eyes for Life Canberra (EFLC) was launched in 2021 as an initiative from Canberra Blind Society (CBS). CBS has provided services to people of all ages with vision impairments since 1958. Extensive research has shown that when a person visits a health professional i.e. an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist, and are diagnosed with an eye condition, they often have limited time to process what’s been said or to ask any questions.
Eyes for Life Canberra offers people who have been recently diagnosed with a vision impairment, the opportunity to discuss their condition, ask questions and receive guidance on what to do next.
Our mission is to work with individuals with a vision impairment, identify what issues and barriers they are experiencing and develop strategies together to enable and help them maintain their independence in order to fully participate in the activities of everyday life.
The purpose of Eyes for Life Canberra is to provide support and services to people who have low vision by offering a range of services for people of all ages who are coming to terms with, or living with, a vision impairment.
Who do we help?
Eyes for Life Canberra prioritises help and support of people of all ages who are experiencing vision loss. Most people who succumb to some type of condition later in life are usually over the age of 65 and therefore not eligible for majority of government funding. EFLC helps fill the gap for those who are diagnosed with an eye problem and are over the age of 65, by paying for some services that people of this age may not be able to afford.
The Challenges of Vision Impairment
People who have low vision encounter many barriers preventing them from fully participating in daily activities.
For young people with an existing eye condition, it can be hard leaving the family home and living alone for the first time, in a world that they cannot see – and they often find it increasingly difficult to navigate. Their situation becomes more complicated if they are pursuing further education or looking to enter the workforce.
Adults who have a vision impairment and may be working or have families to care for, often encounter difficulties adjusting to their changed circumstances, which can include mental health issues.
Many people assume that with people who have low vision, their other senses will automatically take over to compensate. Persons who are blind may, through experience or training, use their other senses more, but those senses will not become measurably more acute or better. Anyone can learn to use their senses more efficiently, and many people who are blind or vision impaired have done this.
By far the most important organs of sense are our eyes. A change in vision has a profound effect on all aspects of life. Each and every task has to be relearned using a new language of the senses; the language of touch, sound, taste and smell. Lack of confidence in the other senses can be a barrier to rehabilitation.
People often believe that if they can’t see it, they can’t do it, or persist in using their remaining vision when it isn’t safe to do so. Having to relearn tasks mastered in childhood can have a negative impact on self-confidence and self-image. This can be more daunting for the increasing number of older people who lose their sight later in life, due to age related eye conditions such as Macular Degeneration, Diabetes, Glaucoma, and other less known eye conditions.
The loss of vision for older and more vulnerable people may come at a time of change when their working life is at an end, children have left home, or a spouse has died. Vision loss causes a natural response of grief and loss where, without counselling and practical support, people can become dependent, or even house bound.
Eyes for Life Canberra believes that with the right information, training and peer support, people who have a vision impairment can maintain their health, independence and continue to make a valuable contribution to their community.