Insight E-Newsletter - March 2011


Welcome to the March issue of Insight! This month, we celebrate recent government funding that will help us to continue to provide our vital library services. Next, we raise awareness about Glaucoma through our Eye Remember campaign, and one family’s story of eye disease and prevention. As always, feel free to drop us a line with your feedback at or follow @CNIB on Twitter.

CNIB Library receives milestone government grant

CNIB leadershipThis February, the CNIB Library received a milestone grant that will ensure Canadians with print disabilities can continue to enjoy the right to read.

The one-time grant of just over $7 million from the federal government was announced February 23 by the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Status of Women. The funds will help expand the library’s collection and deliver service enhancements for clients and public library partners.

Photo (left to right):

Cathy Moore, National Director, Government and Consumer Relations, CNIB; John Rafferty, President & CEO, CNIB; Maria Fitton, CNIB Library client; The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women; The Honourable Senator Reverend Don Meredith.

The grant represents essential interim support while future plans for a long-term service model are put in place.

“For quite some time now, we’ve been working towards the goal of helping develop a sustainable, equitable, nationwide library service for all Canadians with print disabilities,” said John M. Rafferty, President and CEO, CNIB. “This grant is an important milestone in our journey, as it will ensure our library collection and infrastructure will be maintained while we continue to focus on finding a long-term solution.”

CNIB’s work in this area includes last year’s Right to Read campaign, which urged Canada’s governments to provide immediate and fair public funding for nationwide accessible library services, or risk compromising the right to read of more than 800,000 blind and partially sighted Canadians. More than 33,123 letters were sent by caring Canadians asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper and premiers to fund accessible library services in their upcoming budgets.

Their efforts paid off. Interim funding has been received from not only the federal government, but also the governments of Alberta, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, Ontario and Prince Edward Island.

For more information about the CNIB Library, please visit


Knowledge is power: A closer look at glaucoma

A woman undergoing an eye examDid you know that it’s possible to have glaucoma and not even realize it? Glaucoma usually progresses slowly and painlessly, which means it’s not uncommon to have it without knowing. In fact, of the 250,000 Canadians living with glaucoma today, only 125,000 know they have it. What’s more, 71 per cent of Canadians are unaware that it’s possible to have glaucoma but still be able to see perfectly well.

So what exactly is glaucoma? It’s a serious yet common eye condition that involves damage to the optic nerve and is most often caused by high pressure in the eye. However, occasionally people with normal eye pressure can also develop glaucoma. Over time, the disease may cause loss of peripheral vision, followed by “tunnel vision” or complete vision loss.

Knowing your family history is key to protecting sight

Family history, particularly having a parent with the disease, is considered one of the primary risk factors for glaucoma. But still, few Canadians are as informed as they need to be. A recent CNIB study found that:

  • Fewer than half of all Canadians (47 per cent) feel well informed about their family history of glaucoma.
  • Only a third of Canadians (33 per cent) have spoken with their immediate families to learn whether glaucoma runs in the family.
  • Within this group, almost half (47 per cent) learned that glaucoma did indeed run in the family – meaning they could also be at risk.

Regular eye exams are the best form of early detection, improving the chance of controlling glaucoma.

Only an eye examination from an ophthalmologist or optometrist can detect glaucoma before it begins to affect your vision. While there is no cure for glaucoma, it can be treated if detected early. Regular use of prescribed eye drops is very important even if you have no symptoms. If eye drops can no longer control eye pressure, your doctor may recommend laser or conventional surgery.

If you have a family history of glaucoma, mention it to your ophthalmologist or optometrist as soon as possible.

Remember your vision health with Eye Remember

Visit to learn more about glaucoma and enter to win our exciting new Eye Remember photo contest.

Simply upload a photo that represents a cherished memory – whether it’s a summer with family at the cottage, a shot from your honeymoon or an old black and white picture from grandma’s albums. You could win a once-in-a-lifetime trip for two to one of four great Canadian destinations – valued at up to $3,500.

Just be sure to enter by May 18 for your chance to win!


Handing down vision loss: One family’s journey through glaucoma

Sharon Peters with her father, GeorgeYou might say Sharon Peters has her father’s eyes. The problem is, Sharon’s father has glaucoma.

It was several years back that glaucoma first entered the Peters’ world. Sharon was working as an ophthalmic assistant and decided to have her eye pressure checked – she wanted to have a better understanding of what it felt like for her patients to undergo this routine test. The results surprised her.

Sharon had very high pressure of the fluid in the eye – one of the tell-tale signs of glaucoma. And although she wasn’t yet experiencing vision loss, her ophthalmologist prescribed medication as a preventative measure.

Having worked for eye care professionals for years, Sharon knew there could be a hereditary link to her condition, so she brought in her father George to be checked too.

That’s when the family learned that George had high pressure as well, and unlike Sharon, he was experiencing peripheral vision loss. Doctors started him on medication right away.

In the years that followed, George, Sharon, and two of her siblings were diagnosed with glaucoma. And although early detection allowed Sharon and her siblings to keep their sight clear, George’s condition was worsening all the time. Slowly but surely, his failing vision began to affect his life, and he started to need help to do more and more of his everyday activities.

Eventually, he decided he wasn’t safe to drive anymore. It was a difficult realization to say the least.

“That really bothered him,” says Sharon. "His vision at that time was 20/80, which was the cut-off point for a driver’s license.”

They went to the motor vehicle office and, with regret, George turned in his license. Sharon knew this would be a tough blow for her dad to overcome – and she took him to their local CNIB office for support right away.

“With the help of vision aids with magnification, they were able to help him keep his independence for as long as he could…We were very thankful for all the guidance he was given. It was very helpful,” says Sharon.

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. Reflecting on her father’s journey as well as her own, Sharon can’t stress enough the importance of knowing not just your own eye health, but your family’s as well.

“Because I was working with an ophthalmologist I knew the ramifications of what it meant to have high eye pressure,” she says. “Get a formal eye check-up and have everyone in your family checked… It’s very important that everyone know their eye condition and eye history."

“The thing with glaucoma is that it’s the silent thief. If it goes undiagnosed, it gradually lessens your peripheral field of vision. It’s so subtle that you wouldn’t notice it. It’s through your regular eye appointments with your doctor that you can find it.”



Photo of Serene cordless telephoneTalking, large-button phone can help you stay connected

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Spring is a time to get out of the house and back in touch with loved ones, and for organizing fun activities with friends. This spring, stay connected with the people you care about with the help of the Serene cordless telephone, specifically designed for people with low vision. Its large, illuminated buttons and convenient talking features (like audible caller ID that announces incoming phone numbers) make for effortless communication for people experiencing vision loss. Time wasted on dialing mistakes and wrong numbers is better spent connecting with family and friends in your community and across the country!

Click here for more information or to order your Serene phone today!

Proceeds from this and all Shop CNIB products are invested right back into CNIB support services for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted.


Monthly Giving - Become a Partner in Vision

Photo of a woman hugging a young childFor 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 actively participate in life – 365 days a year. Become a Partner in Vision today and help us provide direct, one-on-one support for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted in your community.

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