Society for the Blind has expanded its low-vision clinic services in Sacramento to include vision rehabilitation and pediatric eye care, including an occupational therapist and a second office in Roseville.
“We believe in empowering people with vision challenges to live life to the fullest,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “We know kids are quick to adapt, so if we can reach them when they’re young, we can empower them with the tools needed to do anything they want to do in life.”
Expanded pediatric services at the Sacramento nonprofit also incorporate Braille classes for children and monthly support groups for parents that include child care for both low-vision and sighted children in the family. The purpose of the groups is to give parents the chance to sit down and share experiences and solutions. One of Society for the Blind’s partners, pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Mary O’Hara with UC Davis Eye Center, remembers the crushed look on parents’ faces when she would refer their children with vision challenges to a clinic in Berkeley. Many did not have the means to travel there from the Sacramento area.
“Society for the Blind has been a wonderful resource,” O’Hara said. “Up until 3 years of age, children with low vision can receive services through the state. Now we have a local facility where we can refer families of children ages 3 and up. Families are such an important part of treatment and support for children with low vision. If parents feel empowered, they will be better at helping a child feel empowered.”
The clinic expansion took place when Society for the Blind acquired the practice of a retiring ophthalmologist this year. Prior to the expansion, the clinic provided low-vision evaluation for adults, evaluating the person’s current functional vision and prescribing magnification aids. Society for the Blind’s managing optometrist Dr. Caitlin Walsh, OD, had prior experience with pediatrics, and when occupational therapist Toni Boom was hired, the clinic was able to expand.
“Working at Society for the Blind is ideal as an optometrist providing care for the visually impaired,” Walsh said. “Individuals often benefit from services other than glasses and magnifiers, and we offer comprehensive services in one location. I love that I can call upstairs and arrange mobility training, computer classes, Braille instruction and more for my patients. As a team, we help clients use their remaining vision effectively and learn non-visual techniques for daily living. This will empower many kids and adults for their future.”
Society for the Blind will host an open house for the expanded clinic on Sept. 26 as part of its yearlong 60th anniversary celebration. For more information, call (916) 452-8271.
For 60 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers that included the Lions Clubs of America to a nationally recognized agency and the only rehabilitative teaching center for a 26-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.societyfortheblind.org.