At 85 years old, Iris Page doesn't let anything hold her back.
Just two years ago Iris moved to New Brunswick to be closer to her son. She had known for many years that she had a hereditary form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) but it was only after she moved that she began to experience sight loss resulting from this progressive eye disease. AMD affects central vision so while Iris does have some peripheral vision remaining, she describes her environment as “always appearing misty.”
Iris reached out to CNIB and received assistance from Vision Loss Rehabilitation New Brunswick to help her remain independent in her home. The Independent Living Skills Specialist placed markers on her microwave and stove, allowing her to be self-sufficient in her kitchen. The Low Vision Specialist helped Iris learn to use a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) for reading. Referring to the CCTV, which has a camera that magnifies anything placed under it, Iris says "it changed my life overnight".
But Iris was still looking for more. New to the province and to her vision loss, she was searching for opportunities to make new friends and get out of the house. She became a CNIB volunteer and founded a peer support group in her city. The aptly named Coffee & Chat group meets monthly at the Fredericton Public Library providing participants, like Iris, access to a network of people who have sight loss, as well as a forum to discuss challenges, share ideas or simply enjoy a cup of coffee and know they are not alone in their journey.
“It’s such a comfort to know that CNIB is there for me to talk to, no matter what the problem is,” says Iris. “I know that CNIB will be there if my vision gets worse and I need more help – this reduces my anxiety down to zero.” She encourages anyone newly diagnosed with an eye condition to reach out to CNIB and "to take a big deep breath, it gets better".