Visual Experience Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing memorable Sight Visits to children and adults who have been diagnosed with unstoppable vision loss. Over 285 million people in the world are visually impaired, of whom 39 million are blind and 246 million have moderate to severe visual impairment (WHO, 2013). It is predicted that without extra interventions, these numbers will rise to 75 million blind and 200 million visually impaired by the year 2020 (WHO, 2010). Moreover, the number of people worldwide with only partial vision—135 million—is expected to double by the year 2020. Visual Experience Foundation creates educational programs that take participants to locations and events they have never seen while providing insight into the historical, cultural, and/or environmental context of that sight visit.
These Sight Visits incorporate memorable encounters and educational learning, thereby providing a robust experience that will live on in the individual long after they have lost their eyesight. Michael Benson, the founder of Visual Experience Foundation, was born with glaucoma in 1961. For most of his adult life, he has been burning visual experiences in his memory. He records the characteristics of each encounter—the color, texture, brightness, smell, and sound—and has come to call this action his Burn It technique. He founded Visual Experience Foundation in order to share this powerful, affirming process with others who, like Michael, are also living with varying degrees of cascading visual impairment.
The issues of fear, depression, anxiety, and thoughts of ending ones' life are all associated with the slow loss of vision. Learning to never let a made up future steal a sighted day is a mantra of VEF. " The mental health issue of those going blind is enormous and most eye care professionals are not addressing this. We know this first hand as we are about providing "Have a mentor-Be a mentor" connecting and building community. We is a powerful word and no one needs to go through this in isolation.