On the evening of Friday, September 25, 2015 the University of Waterloo School of Optometry & Vision Science hosted its fourth annual Dining in the Dark fundraiser, with proceeds going towards Optometry Giving Sight - the only global initiative whose mission is to permanently end refractive error blindness in the world by funding long-term, sustainable eye and vision care projects.
Dining in the Dark seeks to simulate what it's like to live and function without vision. Attendees enjoy live music, a cash bar and a myriad of prizes, but most importantly, they’re served a delicious three-course meal while blindfolded. Due to their temporary impairment, diners struggle with simple tasks, such as reaching for the right utensils or knowing where the food is on their plate.
An unfortunate reality, poor vision effects over 600 million people around the world, simply due to having limited access to eye exams and glasses. One of the Dining in the Dark organizers, Country Fan, acknowledges how this event helps our local community understand the impact of living with low vision on one’s quality of life:
“Engaging our community in an altered dining experience is such an innovative and interactive way of showcasing the difficulties of living with vision impairments. We’re glad this event is hosted annually so more of our regional residents can have a chance to take part in such a unique experience.”
Each year, our School of Optometry and Vision Science reaches over 21,000 community members, providing comprehensive patient care to adults, seniors and children through specialized clinics and community outreach initiatives, like Dining in the Dark. This is the fourth year that Melinda Szilva, a low vision rehabilitation counselor at the University of Waterloo’s Optometry Clinic, has been in attendance:
“One of the things this experience highlights for me is how much people with normal vision rely on visual cues when communicating. When we can no longer see the facial expressions, gestures or body language of others, it certainly alters the way we communicate. We hope our community will keep these insights in mind when communicating with people with visual impairments in the future."
Donations from this event help Optometry Giving Sight fund the building of vision centres, optical labs and schools of optometry in developing countries, helping to further the University of Waterloo’s global impact and increase the quality of life for community members at home and across the globe.