Maintain your independence with help from Guide Dogs | Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

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28 September, 2015

Maintain your independence with help from Guide Dogs

Stan having his eyes checked at the Macksville clinic

Macksville residents finding it difficult to watch TV or read the paper, or those who are losing their sight as a result of a disease such as Macular Degeneration or Glaucoma, are invited to attend a free Low Vision Clinic.

The consultation includes an assessment with an experienced Eyecare Plus Optometrist specialising in low vision and a meeting with Guide Dogs Orientation & Mobility Instructors, who will assess what each individual might need to help them get around independently.

Medicare will cover the optometrist consultation, while the assessment from Guide Dogs is provided free of charge, like all the organisation's services.

Jeremy Hill, Regional Manager for Guide Dogs across Northern NSW, said the Low Vision Clinic aimed to encourage people to seek help early to maintain their independence.

"By making low vision services accessible to country areas like Macksville, we're hoping people will seek our assistance sooner rather than later," he said. "We want people to stay safe when getting around and avoid falls and accidents that are often associated with vision loss."

Mr Hill said the holistic approach also saw Guide Dogs check each individual's mobility to determine whether Orientation and Mobility training would be helpful for them.

"So if you are finding your glasses are not quite strong enough to read the race guide, recipes, crosswords, books, letters or even the instructions on your prescriptions, Guide Dogs can help you enjoy these once again," he said.

Nambucca Heads resident Stan Punch, who has Macular Degeneration, has been assisted by Guide Dogs to remain independent. In fact, he says he is hardly ever at home these days.

"I use a cane to get around and a magnifier, which I call my 'spy glass' to read the television guide," Mr Punch said.

"When I'm at home I can get around okay without a cane as I know the territory off by heart, but when I go shopping or for a walk I use my cane," he said. "The support from Guide Dogs has been fantastic. An Orientation & Mobility instructor visits me once every three months to assess how I am going and to see if I need any assistance."

Guide Dogs will have a range of aids including electronic hand-held and desktop magnifiers to help with reading, text-to-speech devices and screen reading software available at the clinic.

The next Low Vision Clinic in Macksville is on September 29 at the Eyecare Plus Optometrist. If required, Guide Dogs can assist with transportation to and from the clinic.