“Losing your sight is like losing someone you love. It’s like a part of your heart is gone. You have to adapt both emotionally and mentally.” – Gerry Kerr.
Fighting Blindness started as a group of patients coming together to support each other. They then learned of the promise of research and decided to investigate further. The rest is history.
Support has remained central to our work. The diagnosis of a condition causing sight loss can be devastating, not only to families with a history of the condition but also to those who had no idea and are now faced with the loss of their sight.
Providing emotional support to people and families experiencing sight loss is essential. The transition from a sighted to an unsighted world requires all members of the family to understand, and in the case of the degenerative diseases of the eye, there can often be a fear of the unknown and unknowable.
In 2002, we established the Insight Counselling Centre, which offers low cost and free professional psychotherapy to those living with sight loss as well as their families and friends. The Centre also provides crisis support via the telephone. Support groups are also available.
With over 246,773 people affected by sight loss in Ireland, there has never been a greater need to provide access to the most up-to-date information about retinal conditions and any potential treatments available. We will continue to work in partnership with appropriate bodies to ensure that patients have all relevant information available. We will also continue to facilitate group counselling sessions and offer family support groups, but it is vital that we expand our counselling service nationwide so that we can respond to requests for counselling throughout the country. This will involve the provision of specialist training for counsellors, which we aim to support in every way that we can. We will develop an outreach programme on a province-by-province basis and refer to genetic counselling where appropriate.
The Counselling Centre also holds a weekly meeting called ‘The Exchange Club’ which is a place for vision-impaired people to meet friends and help each other get the best use from gadgets, especially mobile phones and laptops.
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