Manx Blind Welfare Society has announced that protecting eye health, particularly from the dangers of smoking, will be the message of Vision Awareness Week 2017.
The annual event returns next month with its usual mix of events, talks and presentations, including the popular Douglas promenade walk and Bright for Sight Day.
This is the fourth year the Society has hosted Vision Awareness Week, which will run from 11th to 17th September. The aim is to promote awareness of the issues faced by the hundreds of visually impaired people living in the Isle of Man, highlight the Society’s work and services, and encourage people to look after their eyesight.
Throughout the week the Society has a busy schedule of free talks to schools, businesses and other organisations, and will also be delivering awareness training courses.
During Bright for Sight Day, on Friday 15th September, the Society is encouraging people to wear colourful clothing to raise awareness of visual impairment and raise funds for the Society, which provides a range of vital free services to people with total and partial sight loss.
As part of the day there will be a coffee morning organised by the Isle of Man Fund for the Blind, and a Zumba Night. Both events will be held at Corrin Court, Onchan.
The Vision Awareness Week finale, on Sunday 17th September, will be Step Out for Sight, previously known as Walk My Way. Everyone is invited to join the event and walk Douglas promenade, starting from the Jubilee Kiosk on Loch Promenade and heading towards Summerland.
You can walk as far as you choose, and are encouraged to wear fancy dress, try walking with a blindfold, bring your dog or even go three-legged.
To celebrate the start of Vision Awareness week, the Society will host a Ceilidh on the Park on Friday 8th September. Organised in association with Onchan District Commissioners, the evening will include a performance from Yn Tarroo Marroo Ceili Band, chilli supper and a raffle. Tickets, priced £15, are available by calling 674727.
Manx Blind Welfare Society Chairman Charles Fargher said: ‘We’re really looking forward to the fourth year of Vision Awareness Week, which has enjoyed great success reinforcing the important message of understanding how blindness and visual impairment affects hundreds of people of all ages right across the Isle of Man.
‘The week is all about heightened awareness, and the central message this year will be about eye health with an emphasis on the dangers posed by smoking. The number of smokers is falling, but there are still people across the age ranges who continue and they are risking their eyesight as well as their general health.
‘Research shows smokers are twice as likely to lose their sight than non-smokers, and smoking has been linked to causing or worsening a number of eye conditions, including cataracts, macular degeneration, optic neuropathy and diabetic retinopathy. These are conditions which impact on vision and can lead to total sight loss.
‘Alongside highlighting the dangers of smoking, we will be reminding people of other simple steps they can take to protect their eyesight, such as regular eye tests, exercise, a balanced diet and keeping your eyes covered in the sunshine.’
He added: ‘As ever, the Society will also be explaining what the Isle of Man can do together to ensure everyone has the opportunity to live their life how they want and as independently as they choose. We want to help people understand the challenges of being visually impaired, but also to raise awareness of what can be achieved by blind people when barriers to learning, work and social environments are removed.
‘I hope the whole Island joins us during Vision Awareness Week to enjoy all the events, and learn more about protecting their own eyesight and understanding the needs of those with sight loss.’
Manx Blind Welfare Society provides vital services for more than 600 people with serious sight loss on the Isle of Man and during Vision Awareness Week the charity will also be publicising the work they do alongside other charities, societies and agencies with blind and visually impaired people.
You can find full details of the events planned for Vision Awareness Week 2017 at www.mbws.org.im/vision-awareness-week.
Photo - The popular Douglas promenade walk will return for Manx Blind Welfare Society's 2017 Vision Awareness Week.