MORRIS COUNTY — The Morris County Board of Freeholders has proclaimed October as Blindness Awareness Month 2018 in Morris County, and has recognized Denville-based Vision Loss Alliance of New Jersey on its 75th anniversary as a statewide leader in offering programs and services for persons who have vision issues.
“There are so many families in Morris County who are affected by vision loss and who live with sight disabilities on a daily basis,’’ said Freeholder Director Doug Cabana, who made the proclamation at the freeholder’s September 26 work session in Morristown. “Most of us take our sight for granted until we or a loved one are affected by vision loss and may not know where to turn for help.’’
The proclamation recognized the work of Vision Loss Alliance of New Jersey, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year — in Denville for more than 60 years — and which provides the only comprehensive, nonresidential vision rehabilitation program for adults in the state.
Vision Loss Alliance Director of Development Jayson Daniels and Alliance client Missy Hagan of Wharton accepted the proclamation.
Vision Loss started out as a social club in Newark and relocated to Denville in 1955 as a summer camp for women with blindness, under the name New Jersey Foundation for the Blind. In the late 1990s, it began to offer year-round independent skills training.
The nonprofit changed its name to Vision Loss Alliance of New Jersey in January of 2016 to reflect what it is: an alliance of individuals, organizations and communities dedicated to helping adults who lose their sight learn to adapt and regain confidence.
“We are honored to have the Morris County Freeholders recognize Vision Loss Alliance of New Jersey as we mark our 75th year of empowering people with vision loss to maintain their independence,” said Vision Loss Alliance Executive Director Kris Marino. “I am very thankful to all those who have supported Vision Loss Alliance throughout our long history.”
Vision Loss recently expanded services to provide low vision occupational therapy, which teaches individuals techniques to make the best use of their remaining vision, according to Marino. She said that two-thirds of the organization’s funding comes from individual donations.
Vision Loss Alliance programs deliver substantial, measurable benefits, including fall and accident prevention, greater overall physical and mental health, and the use of tools, resources, and strategies to enrich lives and promote socialization.
The organization is hosting Dining in the Dark, an event that will give guests a glimpse of what it’s like to live without sight while they enjoy a gourmet meal. Dining in the Dark will be held Thursday, October 25 at the Meadow Wood Manor in Randolph. Tickets are available by clicking here.
Marino noted the growing need for services because cases of eye diseases that can lead to vision loss are increasing as the population ages. In New Jersey alone, blindness and profound vision loss affect more than 130,000 adults over age 35, according to state statistics.
The National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, projects a three-fold increase in cases of blindness alone by 2050.
For more information on Vision Loss Alliance click here.