Blind persons face several barriers when it comes to socialising, which leads to loneliness, says ophthalmologist Dr Aishwarya Mulay who formed the group to offer them emotional support.
Seeing the helplessness of a 60-year-old woman who had been cured of Covid-19 but lost her vision due to the aggressive fungal infection mucormycosis, a city-based ophthalmologist started searching for support groups for the blind. “The woman had sought a second opinion. During the consultation, she seemed lost and dejected. There are support groups for cancer, alcohol addiction and so on, but hardly any for adults who have lost their vision,” said Dr Aishwarya Mulay, a cataract and glaucoma consultant at several hospitals including KEM and Sahyadri.
The pandemic has been difficult for all of us, but it has been far more challenging for people with vision impairment, Dr Mulay said. She pointed out that blind people face several barriers when it comes to socialising and recreation, which leads to loneliness and a decline in their emotional well-being. “Hence, we decided to set up this group to keep adults with blindness motivated by providing them social and emotional support,” she added.
The group will initially focus on activities including storytelling, sharing circles, games, songs and sessions with psychologists. “The aim is to keep them socially active and entertained,” Dr Mulay added. On Sunday, noted scientist Dr R A Mashelkar virtually attended the launch of the support group.
Applauding the initiative, Dr Mashelkar said that while technology can make external changes possible, internal changes have to be worked on from within. “The research on bionic eye is in the final phase. However, it will still be a while for that technology to be available and affordable in India, but I have full confidence that India will make it possible. If people with vision impairment work with determination to overcome the challenges they face, then nothing is impossible,” he said.
Dr Girishrao Bapat, Director of Jnana Prabodhini, was also present at the launch and said that social inclusion, recreation and emotional support are essential for every person.
The blindness support group will meet on the third Sunday of every month from 9.30 am to 11.30 am at Jnana Prabodhini Prashala Sadashiv Peth. The free programme is supported by psychological counsellor Ketaki Redij, singer Vedangi Patwardhan, storyteller Aarati and social worker Vaishali Oak.
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