Sight is one of those things most men and women never really think about, but its intrinsic to almost everything they do. The loss of ones vision then is a frightening ordeal that can lead to depression and isolation.
Being optically impaired themselves, Sherron Smith and Kyle Parrish know firsthand the life-altering effects of vision loss and its this that prompted the pair to open the Clallam County Vision Loss Center.
Were not doctors, but we want to work with the local doctors and provide the support to their patients that they cant provide.
Things arent going to change overnight and thats the problem. You have to stick with it and this is what we want to do, Parrish said. If somebody walks through this door and theyre devastated because they have some form of vision loss and theyre just scared out of their minds, one visit isnt going to fix it, but were here to stay.
Located at the Armory Square Mall at 228 W. First St. in Port Angeles, the center is funded in part through Lions International and the National Federation of the Blind. Parrish is a member of both organizations. Lions International has been a leading organization in promoting vision issues since the early 20th century.
There are centers, but the combination of Lions and NFB has never been done before, but I think its a great combination, Parrish said.
According to Parrish, grants are available through Lions International for everything from eyeglasses to cornea surgeries and the center will help any individual who wishes to apply.
According to Parrish and Smith, the center is meant to be a resource center for optically impaired individuals so that they can lead independent lives.
If anyone has a vision loss and theyre uncomfortable with their living situation, were here to help them, were here to show them ways that they might not have thought about, tell them about different aspects of things, Parrish said.
The center will offer mobility canes, as well as basic mobility classes and lessons for individuals wishing to learn Braille. Parrish and Smith hope to add onto their current office space, offering a warehouse of used and recycled tools that aid individuals with vision impairment such as large print and talking computers, check writing guides, talking watches and magnifying glasses in return for a donation to the center.
Parrish calls the center a community project and hopes to work with local support groups, nonprofit organizations that deal with vision issues and area physicians. Parrish says the center always is looking for volunteers.
The vision loss center will be open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, call 360-457-1383 or visit www.visionlossservices.org.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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