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Collaborating with Lions Eye Institute (LEI) to offer support

in Be Empowered, Latest News, Stories of Independence

VisAbility is strengthening its connections with the Lions Eye Institute (LEI), so we can offer further support to people who are vision impaired or blind.

Based in Nedlands, the LEI is home to world class specialists developing techniques for the prevention of blindness and curing eye conditions. It also has an ophthalmic clinic.

Social Worker Marija Clark will be based at LEI two mornings a week. She will offer guidance and advice to those who need it most. Many may have received a recent diagnosis.

Image shows Marija sitting down in front of an electronic eye chart at the LEI
Marija Clarke, VisAbility Social Worker, will be at the clinic twice a week

“Having a presence at the Lions Eye Institute makes perfect sense. Ophthalmologists are the ones who consult with the patients, but emotional support and connection to the community and informing people about other services is the next step,’’ she explains.

“I can offer immediate advice to people who may have only just found out they’re losing their sight.’’

Marija Clark – Social Worker

Taking the fear out of a new diagnosis

A new diagnosis of an eye condition can be overwhelming. People may have many questions, ranging from financial support such as concessions cards to vision loss related services, therapy and access to funding.

Marija Clark has more than twenty years’ experience in eye health. She also has lived experience of low vision.

“I can be the first point of call to anyone trying to navigate their life with a vision impairment. They might not know anything about the NDIS, My Aged care or Job Access.’’

LEI Senior Optometrist Amanda Poulson says it makes perfect sense for the two organisations to have closer collaboration.

Images shows Optometrist Amanda poulson standing next to Marija Clark next to some medical equipment at the eye clinic in the LEI
Optometrist Amanda Poulson says it’s a great collaboration

“I like to think that we’re bridging the gap or joining the dots. Together we are providing a complete service,’’ Amanda explains.

Marija is the missing link. She has the knowledge to be able to guide people at a time when they may be working through the grief of losing their sight.

Amanda Poulson – Optometrist

“By offering this service at LEI, we are providing a whole package, not just a diagnosis. I very much believe that if you put good in, then you receive good back,’’ she adds.

Moving forward with vision loss

By meeting people early on in their vision loss journey, Marija can help to action things sooner to reduce uncertainty.

Many of the patients at the LEI Clinic are elderly with conditions such as macular degeneration or glaucoma.

“Adults and seniors can still enjoy a good quality of life and retain their independence. They’re probably unaware that NDIS funding can cover home adaptations, so homes become more accessible. The kitchen can be fitted with tactile markings on appliances. We can improve lighting and introduce magnifiers so tasks like reading become easier. ’’

With help from therapists, people with vision loss can continue to lead a full life. Assistive technology means you don’t have to stop working so you can continue enjoying the same hobbies.

For instance for one patient, Marija has also facilitated access to understanding funding for transport assistance, so she can make future clinic appointments without great expense.

Guidance and support available at the LEI

Marija can help people navigate areas such as:

  • Financial help/funding available
  • Counselling and coming to terms with vision loss
  • Supporting emotional well-being
  • The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
  • The My Aged Care System
  • Job Access and the Employment Assistance Fund
  • VisAbility services such as Orthoptist, Orientation and Mobility, Assistive Technology, Occupational Therapy, Exercise Physiology, Speech Therapy and Dietetics
  • Liasing with opthalmologist/optometrist as appropriate
  • Advocating on people’s behalf to government departments and employers
  • Community group connections.

Interested in booking an appointment with our Social Work team? Then contact our Customer Experience Team on CETEnquiries@visability.com.au