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Thursday 21 March 2019
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Let the blind lead the blind

Advocates encourage helping each other.

Dr. Desriee Murray conduts Slit Lamp Biomicroscopy on President Paula-Mae Weeks as part of World Glaucoma Week 2019 at the Cottage, Office of the President, St Anns. Photo by Jeff K. Mayers
Dr. Desriee Murray conduts Slit Lamp Biomicroscopy on President Paula-Mae Weeks as part of World Glaucoma Week 2019 at the Cottage, Office of the President, St Anns. Photo by Jeff K. Mayers

VALERIE TOUSSAINT, an advocate representing the group Advocates for the Blind and Visually impaired, encouraged the blind to lead the blind, when dealing with being visually impaired.

Toussaint, who has been blind for more than 20 years, at a glaucoma screening at the Office of the President yesterday (earlier), encouraged people who recently became blind or visually impaired to meet with other people who are blind to show them there is life after blindness.

“When I first lost my eyesight, to tell you the truth, I was devastated,” Toussaint said. “I told myself my life was over.

"But I had to live. So I decided to make the moves and do what I needed to, and I went to the Blind Welfare Association, where I met a man by the name of Trevor Small. He showed me that although you are blind you can still lead a normal life. He is blind also, and really helped me to cope with it.”

She encouraged the blind to help each other and show each other that despite their disability, they are able to lead fruitful lives. She added that her organisation even holds a cook-out every year at the Queen’s Park Savannah.

“The blind would cook and we would invite the public to take a sample,” said Toussaint. “I cook as well. I make a mean curry.”

Toussaint was among several guests invited to the office of the President to commemorate World Glaucoma Day. President Paula-Mae Weekes and 45 staff members were screened for glaucoma and other eye diseases. The president, along with Dr Desiree Murray, encouraged the public to be screened for the disease and said glaucoma can be treated, once it is detected early.

“Glaucoma is completely preventable,” Murray said. “Screening is usually done by an optometrist and if there is any abnormality, the patient is referred to the eye unit at any hospital.”

Weekes said she took the initiative to be screened along with her staff in an effort to raise awareness of the disease, and encouraged companies and government organisations to do the same.

“It is entirely possible to treat the disease once it is detected early, and the testing was quick and painless. There would be absolutely no reason not to do it,” she said.

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