iSightCornwall is helping those with sight loss to lead active and independent lives
Thursday 7th December, 2017
Every 15 minutes, someone in the UK losses their sight. In Cornwall, thousands of people are waking up every day wondering if their sight has gotten worse, how much longer they will be able to look into the faces of their loves ones, read their favourite book or watch the television.
But they aren’t facing this frightening and often isolating condition alone. iSightCornwall, based at Newham, helps people living in the county who are affected by sight loss and offers them emotional and practical support to lead an active, independent life.
And keeping active is something that Joy Bond is passionate about. The 91 year old puts the social life of a person half her age to shame, with a packed diary of events meaning she is often away from home. But when she does spend time around the house, Joy, who began losing her sight more than three decades ago, has the support of iSightCornwall to help her with everything from telling the time to cooking her favourite recipe.
“I remember when my eyesight first starting failing,” said Joy. “I was driving my husband to work and it was like a film had been laid over my eyes, I couldn’t understand it.”
Told she had cataracts and glaucoma, Joy then developed macular degeneration and has very little sight left.
“I was worried that I wouldn’t be in control of my own life anymore because I couldn’t read my mail,” she said. “I have always loved reading and the thought of not being able to do that was very sad.”
It is estimated that there are some 22,000 people living with sight loss in Cornwall, a figure that is expected to grow to 32,000 over the next 15 years. iSightCornwall is the only charity in the county dedicated to supporting people with sight loss to lead active and independent lives. Established in 1856, iSightCornwall supported miners who lost their sight due to hazardous working conditions. More than 160 years later, the charity continues to support the visually impaired, helping over 4,000 people a year from its headquarters in Newham, Truro.
Joy first heard about iSightCornwall and the technology available two years ago after listening to a talking newspaper article about an information event being held by the charity near her St Austell home. Joy learnt about all of the gadgets available to support her, including a memory stick player which allows her to listen to a series of audio books, a talking clock, ReadEasy reading machine and scanner and liquid level indicator which is used to stop the overfilling of cups, mugs and kitchen accessories.
“My eyesight went gradually and it could have been very isolating,” said Joy who enjoys going to weekly exercise classes, regular church events, local women’s groups and the Trefoil Guild a senior branch of Girlguiding.
“I would have been very miserable without the help I have received from iSightCornwall. To lose your independence is terrible but they have supported me to keep feeling confident in my own home. This freed me of the anguish of not being able to do things. The help and support of staff and volunteers has been truly amazing.”
iSightCornwall offers a number of services from a low vision clinic to employment and welfare information as well as a range of affiliated clubs and activities including musical groups, bowling and even shooting.
The charity, which depends on donations to run its services, also has a dedicated outreach programme with community development officers providing free advice and support to people in their homes.
Clyde Pascoe received a visit from Debbie Vivian, one of the charity’s Community Development Officers earlier this year. The 87 year old has lived with sight problems since childhood but now suffers from total loss of vision in one eye and degeneration in the other.
“There is so much that iSightCornwall can offer, the team there are so helpful and kind. They are always available for me to talk to,” he said.
During the visit, Debbie demonstrated some of the things that could help Clyde around the home. He was also given magnifiers on free long term loan from iSightCornwall’s low vision clinic.
“The support offered by iSightCornwall is invaluable, it is a vital service for people, whatever their age,” said Clyde.
And after receiving extra funding to support the Community Development Service, iSightCornwall is now able to roll out monthly information events across the county for people with sight loss to visit, ask questions and receive demonstrations of the latest low vision aids, mobile phones, tablets and video magnifiers.
For more information about the service and to book an appointment visit http://www.isightcornwall.org.uk/community-outreach/ or call Helen Moran on 01872 261110.