Insight E-Newsletter - June 2011

Welcome to the June issue of Insight! In this issue, we share tips on how to spot signs of vision loss in your parents. Since June is Senior’s month, we also look to inspirational seniors like Bill Wall, whose story shows how life doesn’t have to stop after vision loss. Finally, the excitement continues to build for The iFactor 2011, our premier musical competition for people with vision loss. As always, feel free to drop us a line with your feedback at or follow @CNIB on Twitter.

Canada Post Strike Update

Further to our email about the impact of a postal disruption on CNIB programs and services, we wanted to provide a brief update on how we’re helping mitigate the impact on our clients.

In anticipation of the strike, the CNIB Library invited clients to order books and other reading materials in advance. As the disruptions continue across the country, some clients may experience delays in receiving their orders.

Orders from our webstore continue to be processed and our Helpline staff continue to work with our customers determine alternate delivery methods appropriate for their location.

While we hope for a speedy resolution to the disruption, we still need help from our friends and supporters. Donations can be made securely online or by phone. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us or visit us at or call 1-800-563-2642.

Thank you for your support.


Can’t slow me down

83-year-old Bill Wall proves life for seniors with vision loss can be active and rewarding

Photo of Bill WallEighty-three-year-old Bill Wall has always been an active, “go-getter” of a guy. In fact, even after he retired in 1993, he continued to work part-time and get as much exercise as he could.

“I was always active,” he says. “I never believed in taking elevators if there was a staircase I could climb.”

But when Bill lost his vision to AMD (age-related macular degeneration) in 2003, his active lifestyle suddenly seemed threatened – for the first time in his life.

That’s when he came to CNIB.

With the help of his CNIB instructor, Bill was able to regain his mobility, his independence and the busy life he loved.

“I was trained to walk with a white cane and get around by subway and bus . . .” he says. “My instructor was excellent – probably the best person I ever had the fortune of meeting in my entire life.”

Giving back to his community

Now, after receiving such valuable support from CNIB, Bill’s turning the tables – and giving back. The young-at-heart 83-year-old regularly does cycling, walking and other high-energy fundraisers to support CNIB and a range of other organizations in his community, despite the fact that he’s now completely blind.

An avid cyclist and walker, Bill’s currently training for a 200-kilometre bike ride in June — for the third year in a row. Then, in September, Bill and his wife Barbara plan to do a two-day, 60-kilometre cancer walk.

He’s also a savvy fundraiser and member of the Toronto Doctors Lion’s Club, which meets twice a month to raise funds for vision loss and diabetes. Last November, they organized a gala event and raised $30,000 for CNIB.

So what’s Bill’s advice for all seniors, with or without vision loss?

“Get active. Get out there and do something,” he says. “There are many things seniors can do in the community to help others, and help themselves at the same time. If I can do it, there’s no reason why they can’t. I did a 60-kilometre walk for cancer seven months after I had open heart surgery!”


Aging and vision loss: How to spot the signs in your parents

Photo of a woman with low vision getting assistance with reading a page on a clipboardWhile it may be inevitable that our parents will need stronger eyeglasses as they grow older, significant vision loss caused by eye disease may be avoided by taking early precautions.

Vision loss is highest among those who are over 65 and is increasing each year. In fact, the number of seniors with vision loss is expected to double in the next 25 years.

The following tips will help you spot signs of vision loss in your parents, and know what to do if and when you suspect a problem.

The tell-tale signs

According to Dawn Pickering, former coordinator and lead instructor in the National Low Vision Specialist Training Program at CNIB, it’s important to recognize the signs of vision loss so that you can help your parents take preventive steps. She advises to watch for the following signs in aging relatives:

  • An increased sensitivity to light and glare
  • Difficulty distinguishing colours and objects
  • More clumsiness than usual
  • Reduced night vision
  • Straight lines appear wavy
  • Difficulty recognizing faces or seeing the TV

In addition to physical signs, Pickering also suggests looking for less obvious signs that they may be experiencing vision loss. For example, if your parent suddenly stops doing things they enjoy that require fine vision skills (such as sewing, reading and playing board games), it may be a sign that they’re having trouble seeing what they’re doing.

What you can do

AMD (age-related macular degeneration), glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and cataracts are all common eye conditions that affect thousands of Canadians each year. Some of these conditions have symptoms you can look out for, while others – like glaucoma – show no symptoms until significant damage to vision has occurred, so it’s important to encourage your parents to visit an eye care professional regularly. For some seniors, age-related vision loss can be corrected with glasses, medication or surgery if caught early enough.

If you suspect your parent may be losing his or her vision, book an appointment with an eye care professional immediately. They can determine whether the signs you’re noticing are a result of aging or if they’re connected to a serious eye condition. Vision loss should be treated as quickly as possible after diagnosis.

If your parent is diagnosed with an eye disease, be sure to ask their eye care professional to explain how their condition works, how their vision will be affected, what treatments are available, and what steps your parent can take to limit further sight loss. By visiting CNIB, your parent with vision loss can also benefit from our emotional support and vision rehabilitation services.


Canada’s premier musical competition for blind or partially sighted people makes waves

Logo for The i FactorThe iFactor is back and the search for the next Canadian superstar is on!

More than a talent competition, The iFactor offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for contestants, and a chance to celebrate the talents of Canadians with vision loss.

Launched in 2009, The iFactor is a nationwide musical competition that helps aspiring artists with sight loss develop their skills, further their musical talents and show the whole country what they can do.

Contestants entered by uploading a short video of themselves singing or playing a musical instrument. Now, it’s Canada’s turn to weigh in, as the top 10 semi-finalists will be chosen based on public votes and a panel of independent judges.

The grand prize winner will earn an experience of a lifetime, as they’ll be performing as the opening act for acclaimed singer-songwriter Terry Kelly – a Juno nominee, member of the Order of Canada, and seven-time East Coast Music Award winner. The lucky winner will also receive a trip for two to an exciting Canadian locale.

The iFactor 2011 is part of the 50th birthday celebration of Lake Joseph Centre (commonly known as “Lake Joe”), CNIB’s fully accessible recreational facility located in the heart of Ontario’s Muskoka region. This vital resource enables Canadians who are blind or partially sighted to enjoy a range of outdoor activities – from hiking to waterskiing, swimming and cycling – in a safe, comfortable environment designed especially for people with vision loss.

All funds raised from this year’s competition will go directly toward maintaining and improving Lake Joe’s facilities, so show your support today! Visit to vote for your favourite contestants, and then join us for the live finale at Lake Joe on Saturday, August 20. Call the CNIB Helpline at 1-800-563-2642 or email to secure your tickets now.

For more information about The iFactor, visit



Talking clock keychain, ideal for those on-the-go - $14.05

Photo of talking clock keychainWhether you’re running errands or enjoying a nice, long walk, this talking clock keychain will keep you organized and on time. With black LED display, this compact gadget conveniently fits into your pocket or purse. The talking clock feature takes the work out of checking the time, while the alarm clock — that talks and crows — will ensure you’ll never be late! (Batteries included. Available in English only. One-year warranty.)


Monthly Giving - Become a Partner in Vision

Photo of a woman hugging a young childEvery 12 minutes, someone in Canada loses their sight. By giving as little as $10 a month, you can help CNIB empower people to overcome the challenges and isolation of vision loss, ensuring they have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life – all year round. Become a Partner in Vision today and help us provide personalized support to Canadians who are blind or partially sighted in your community.









Back to top of page