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Health and Community Services
May 25, 2010

The following statement was given today in the House of Assembly by the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services:

Minister Recognizes Vision Health Month

I rise in this Honourable House today to recognize Vision Health Month, which is designed to raise awareness about the importance of safeguarding vision health and promoting good eye health.

More than 836,000 Canadians are living with some form of vision loss, which includes approximately 15,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. An additional 4.25 million Canadians have some form of age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or cataracts — and if left untreated most will be at risk of significant vision loss.

A regular eye exam remains the best form of early detection and prevention to help control and treat eye disease.

I would like to encourage my Honourable Colleagues to think about vision health all year-round, but especially this week, as Thursday has been designated "Shades of Fun Day" by the CNIB — who have provided all members with a pair of sunglasses today. Everyone is encouraged to slip on these sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays.

The CNIB offers an important service for people in our province who lose their eyesight or live with partial vision. They provide specialized services for people of all ages, including support and training on independent living skills, assessment and training on the use of low vision aids to compensate for vision loss, safe and independent mobility both within and outside the home, access to a wide variety of consumer products, training in assistive devices, early intervention services for children and access to one of the world's largest lending libraries of books in audio, braille or e-text. CNIB challenges conventional attitudes pertaining to vision loss, delivering a progressive message about ability, not disability.

The Williams Government recognizes the importance of vision health, and proves that commitment through an annual grant of $664,200 to the CNIB to help support rehabilitation and blindness prevention programs. As well, just recently, our government invested $200,000 in the CNIB to help the organization expand its programs and enhance services for those who have been referred to the CNIB for vision rehabilitation in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

I encourage everyone to get regular eye exams, care for their eyes by wearing sunglasses that have UVA and UVB protection, and learn more about protecting their own vision.

2010 05 25                                                    1:45 p.m.

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