New sight loss support group being launched in Strabane

Thursday, 15 June 2017

A NEW support group is being launched to help increase the confidence and independence of people affected by macular degeneration in Strabane.

The Macular Society, together with local people, has organised the group which will meet on the third Wednesday of every month.

The ongoing aim of the group will be to offer information, encouragement and friendship to people who are affected by the condition.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the central vision and is the most common cause of sight loss in the UK, affecting more than 600,000 people. More people are affected as our population ages.

Speaking this week, Karen Toogood, Macular Society regional manager for Northern Ireland, explained the plans.

"This new group is here for anybody affected by macular degeneration and we want to encourage people to come along. Friends and family are also very welcome.

"It's good to be able to learn from each other's experiences and get tips. The peer support can be so helpful. Our groups can really help people increase in confidence and become more independent.

"The group will invite guest speakers on a variety of subjects, including macular conditions and their impact on our daily lives. The meetings are also social occasions where we can chat over a cup of tea."

In Northern Ireland, the Macular Society has been able to establish and run new sight loss support groups across the country such as the one here in Strabane thanks to 200,000 of National Lottery funding from the Big Lottery Fund.

This vital investment has enabled the charity to more than double the number of its support groups in Northern Ireland over the past five years.

Julie Harrison, Big Lottery Fund's NI chair, said: "We are pleased to see the difference the Macular Society is making to older people across Northern Ireland who live in rural areas, sheltered accommodation or care homes.

"Our Connecting Older People programme is supporting a range of vital projects like this one that are transforming the lives of older people in our communities who are at risk of isolation, depression, mental and physical ill health and low self-esteem."

The Macular Society is inviting anyone affected by the condition to join them for the group's first meeting on Wednesday, June 21, from 10.30am until 12pm at Strabane Day Centre, Barrack Street.

After this initial meeting, there will be no meeting in July however the group will next meet on Wednesday, August 16, and the third Wednesday thereafter.

For more information on the group or macular degeneration, call the Macular Society's helpline on 0300 3030 111 or email


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