Don't Delay, Seek Help Today
A survey revealed that 1 in 4 people with vision loss wait more than 10 years to request assistance, increasing their risk of trips, falls, isolation and depression. To address the survey findings, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has launched a campaign to encourage people who are experiencing issues with their vision to seek support sooner rather than later.
"Vision loss in those aged over 40 increases the risk of falls by two times, the risk of depression by three times and the risk of hip fractures from four to eight times, so it is important people contact us to find out about the services we offer at no cost to reduce their risk," CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, Dr Graeme White said.
"The survey revealed a range of reasons why people wait including not realising their vision was limiting their mobility until an incident occurred such as a fall, relying on family members to get around and a lack of understanding that a person doesn't have to be totally blind to receive help," he said.
Facts and figures
- A Guide Dogs Australia survey conducted in September 2016 reveals that 50 per cent of respondents waited more than 2 years between diagnosis and seeking assistance from Guide Dogs Australia.
- A staggering 26 per cent waited more than 10 years before contacting Guide Dogs NSW/ACT for help.
- Concerns about the stigma associated with using a white cane and denial that a person was losing their vision, were two psychological barriers outlined in the survey findings.
- Every day 28 Australians are diagnosed with uncorrectable vision loss, including nine who become blind.
- A person doesn't have to be totally blind to receive help from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. Anyone losing their sight is encouraged to contact us early, to reduce the risks of falls, accidents and depression.
- While training Guide Dogs is an important part of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT's work, our most common program is showing people with impaired vision how to safely move through different environments using a range of mobility aids and electronic devices.
- All Guide Dogs NSW/ACT services are provided at no cost to clients.
Legally blind since a young child due to a case of meningitis, Coral's story is an illustration of what can happen as a result of delaying assistance.
Provided with an identification cane to signal to the public she was vision impaired when she was 16, Coral did not request mobility training in how to move around safely, but this was not her only barrier. "Even with the ID cane people used to say to me, 'put that away and be normal.' They'd worry about the stigma attached to having a cane, and they didn't want others to treat me differently," she said.
It wasn't until her fifth child left home that Coral sought the support she needed from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT to learn how to use a long cane. "When my children left home and became independent, I thought it was about time I should too."
"Having a cane gave me back the confidence and independence I lost staying at home," she said.
Coral now travels independently with her long cane and GPS app on her phone. The 70 year old has some advice for those who are experiencing problems with their sight: "Don't wait till your sight gets too bad because you'll lose your confidence. If you wait to get help, you'll continue feeling insecure when you go out on your own and, like me, this might stop you going out altogether," she said. "My kids now joke that I go out more than them."
How you can help
- If you know someone who is experiencing issues getting around because of vision loss, encourage them to contact Guide Dogs NSW/ACT on
1800 484 333 to find out how we can help.
- Help us spread the word. Aside from Guide Dogs, we also provide orientation and mobility services to help people move and travel safely. All Guide Dogs NSW/ACT services are provided at no cost to clients.