New low vision service
"It is important that people with low vision act early to maintain independence and reduce the risk of falls, accidents and depression, but distance to quality services is often a barrier," Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Acting Regional Manager, Patrick Shaddock said.
"That is why our new Low Vision Advisor will travel to towns across Southern NSW from Cootamundra to Harden and Yass and anywhere in between to conduct low vision assessments, recommend low vision aids and tailor programs to meet the lifestyle needs of each individual," he said.
Low vision aids include handheld and desktop magnifiers, special lighting options, text-to-speech devices, digital audio books, screen reading and magnification software, and products to assist with activities of daily living.
"Some of the equipment can be used in the home and other technologies are portable and enable the user to read price tags, signs and labels in the shops," Mr Shaddock said.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is also seeking feedback from residents with low vision living in the ACT and Southern NSW to find out exactly what they would like from the new service so the organisation can best meet the needs of the community.
About one million Australians over the age of 50 have some evidence of macular degeneration and this figure will increase to 1.7 million by 2030, in the absence of effective prevention and treatment measures*.
"The statistics become more alarming when you consider that a third of people with eye disorders live in country areas, but people in rural and regional areas, especially males, tend to not get their eyes checked regularly," Mr Shaddock said.
The new low vision service starts in December. Guide Dogs NSW/ACT wants to assist as many people as possible and are urging anyone who might benefit from these services to contact the Canberra Guide Dogs office on (02) 6285 2988 or email Canberra [at] guidedogs.com.au to make an appointment.
HAVE YOUR SAY ON THE LOW VISION SERVICE
- Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is very interested in consulting with anyone who has low vision (including guardians) and lives in the ACT or Southern NSW so that they can ensure their new range of services meet the needs of the community. They would particularly like to know your thoughts on what low vision services are needed in your area and the best way they can be delivered.
- If you have any thoughts on the provision of low vision services in your area please contact Jo Weir on 0466 306 827 or email at jweir [at] guidedogs.com.au
- Macular Disease Foundation Australia - Deloitte Access Economics Report: Eyes on the future: A clear outlook on age-related Macular Degeneration 2011. www.mdfoundation.com.au
* Macular Disease Foundation Australia - Deloitte Access Economics Report: Eyes on the future: A clear outlook on age-related Macular Degeneration 2011. www.mdfoundation.com.au