Marie Anne Sliwinski 2015-07-15 06:22:40
LCIF Provides Sight and Hope in Colorado “I’m sorry, but you are going blind. We can’t do anything about it.” For many people diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), these words can stir fear, anger and confusion. For 80-year-old Maurine Sanford, they spurred defiance. “I’m not going to let that happen!” Sanford vowed. While Sanford’s blue eyes may look healthy, her sight is mostly blurry and dark. She has geographic atrophy, a late stage of the dry form of AMD. When Sanford’s good friend Mary Duncan, who lives with low vision due to glaucoma, learned about Sanford’s condition, she recommended that Sanford visit the Ensight Skills Center for Visual Rehabilitation in Fort Collins, Colorado. Ensight is the only nationally accredited, low-vision clinic in Colorado that offers a complete set of services to assist people who have low vision to improve their life skills, independence and self-confidence. The Fort Collins Lions Club has been a major supporter of Ensight since the clinic was established in 2001. In 2013, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) awarded a US$200,050 grant to fund a threeyear SightFirst project to expand lowvision mobile services throughout Colorado. As the implementing partner, Ensight purchased a van and equipped it with eye exam tools and devices. For the past two years, the Onsite van has traveled around rural Colorado promoting low-vision care, educating the local Lions and the community about tools and techniques available for people with low vision and providing low-vision evaluation and rehabilitation services. More than 100 Lion volunteers have participated in low-vision evaluation and education events, provided logistical support or taken the lead in information sessions. More than 290 low-vision patients have received rehabilitation services and follow-up consultations including home visits. Over the past two years, Sanford has met regularly with an occupational therapist and an optometrist, who have helped her identify ways to better use her remaining vision such as turning her home into a low-vision friendly space. Low-vision patients like Sanford are assessed simultaneously by therapists and optometrists, who provide a personalized plan of action including follow-up care such as phone calls and home visits. Sanford is grateful to all who have helped her along the way. “Before, I walked around hunched down, not wanting to do anything for fear of being hurt. But thanks to Ensight and the Lions of Colorado, I am able to stand up straight and move forward to the next phase of my life,” she says. District 6 NE Governor Bob Kitchell and Ensight Board Chairperson Lion Doug Hutchinson believe that the SightFirst project has successfully reached out to an underserved population who were not only losing sight but losing hope as well. Hutchinson, who has low vision, says, “I am amazed at how minor adjustments in actions and behavior can have major positive results in my dayto-day life. As a Lion, I proudly support our initiative and we look forward to helping more people in Colorado.” For information on SightFirst programs and grants, visit lcif.org.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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