71-year-young Terry is finding new vision
LOOKING at this photo, you would have little idea that Terry Bennett is blind.
The 71-year-old lost his vision completely almost four years ago as a result of retinitis pigmentosa, but he didn't lose heart.
He has been attending the wood workshop at Vision Australia's Coorparoo office every week since.
The former bus driver had no previous woodwork experience but found he had a talent for it - just one of a range of activities Vision Australia can offer, including leatherwork, pottery, swimming and barefoot bowls.
That's on top of practical services such as helping you use screen magnifiers or readers, braille technology, a cane or matching you with a guide dog.
Mr Bennett also facilitates one of Vision Australia's weekly telelink groups, speaking by phone with a group of up to eight people ranging in age from about 40-95, scattered across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, about their day-to-day experiences and life in general.
He said it was vital to have that interaction with other people, to have strong family support and to get out and live life.
While he certainly misses aspects of sight, including driving and seeing his family, he says he keeps a picture of them in his head, and is "lucky to have seen everything”.
"It's no good being down in the dumps,” Mr Bennett said.
"You've got to play the cards you're dealt.
"The big thing is people not feeling sorry for you; I'd rather that not happen. I don't feel sorry for myself.”
The State Budget recently delivered over $1.1 million to continue the Coorparoo office's work in supporting people who are blind and low-vision to remain living independently in their homes and communities.
"This funding will help to provide accommodation support, learning and life skills support, therapy support, social outings, adaptive communication support, technology training, Information Library Services, and Information Referrals Services,” Disability Services Minister Coralee O'Rourke said.
Vision Australia supports more than 27,500 people across Australia, including approximately 3000 people in Queensland, and the number of people with sight problems is ever-increasing in line with our aging population.
"The most common causes of blindness and low vision are age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma,” said Queensland general manager Karen Knight. "These conditions are more common in the older population.”
Statistics show just 1 in 400 people aged 19 or under have blindness or low vision, growing to 1 in 30 between 60-69 years and 1 in 10 by 80.
While Ms Knight acknowledges it can be harder for older people to adjust to vision impairment because "learning new skills can be more challenging after completing a task in a certain way all your life”, she says the individual's positive attitude makes all the difference, as in Mr Bennett's case.
If you would like to learn more about Vision Australia's services, go to www.visionaustralia.org or call 1300847466.