Open house for visually impaired

Support groups can help people fight isolation as a result of going blind

For those who struggle with worsening vision and blindness, the world can quite literally become a very dark place.

But the darkness that blindness brings can bring can extend to one’s emotional health, as well.

Brian Hetherington knows all too well the isolation blindness can bring. Hetherington, a member of the Maple Ridge Lions’ Club, suffers from a progressive eye disease that has robbed him of his sight in recent years. He and the local Lions’ Club are organizing an open house for the visually impaired this Saturday to connect the blind with the many resources available to them.

The open house, now in its second year, features close to 20 service groups and businesses, many of which work to support the blind to help them adjust to life with little or no sight, including providing emotional support and counselling.

People who find themselves faced with blindness often withdraw socially and become reclusive, says Hetherington.

“They become isolated because they can’t enjoy the things they used to enjoy,” he says. “You can feel completely lost, but there’s people who understand what you’re going through.”

Blind sports groups and support groups also help connect those going blind with others who are going through the same experience.

The open house also features a variety of businesses who specialize in technology to make life easier for the blind.

Hetherington, himself, uses a talking watch, and has a program on his computer that reads aloud his emails.

“Without it, I wouldn’t be able to communicate over the Internet,” he says.

• The Vision Impaired Resources Open House is 1-4 p.m. Saturday at the Ridge Meadows Seniors’ Activity Centre.  Call for information:  604-467-2696.