Retina 2015 Speaker Áine Mae O’Mahony

Image of Aine Mae O'MahonyÁine Mae O’Mahony manages a community radio station in Loop Head, Co Clare. Prior to this she owned a café in Ennistymon, Co Clare and studied Visual Media in Cork.

Áine Mae has been a Fighting Blindness member since 2008. She has contributed immensely to the organisation as a patient advocate, spokesperson and through various fundraising activities.

In July 2013, as part of the National Vision Coalition launch of a Framework to Adopt a Strategic Approach to Vision Health in Ireland, Áine Mae spoke to TDs about her own experience of eye health care in Ireland following her sudden onset blindness caused by glaucoma and detached retina in 2006. She spoke from the patient perspective on the importance of joined-up thinking in the health care system, the power of collaboration between all stakeholders and the education needed to increase the understanding that sight loss has many degrees and can sometimes be a “hidden disability”, not immediately obvious to the onlooker. Áine Mae’s contribution was eloquent and realistic and highlighted the focus of Fighting Blindness to empower patients, ensuring that the patient voice is always included in any discussion regarding patient care and policy development.

Áine Mae is a fantastic ambassador for Fighting Blindness and the entire vision community and we are delighted to welcome her to Retina 2015 to represent the voice of the Fighting Blindness membership.

“No pun intended, but I have always looked on the bright side of life, and the first thing to say is that, if you have to go blind, there has never been a better time than now. Even 20 years ago, losing my sight would have meant losing my independence. Job opportunities would have been limited to say the least. But today there is nothing that a sighted person can do on a computer that I can’t do just as well, if not better. I am a great believer in the benefits of a positive mental attitude. I don’t dwell on what I can’t do. I focus on what I can

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do, and – bar the obvious like driving – you can do practically anything if you do it in a certain way.”