Not in the dark about glaucoma

Chan (centre) and his team who conduct the Dialogue in the Dark exhibition at Petrosains, KLCC. Guests being briefed before entering the Dialogue in the Dark exhibition.

WOULD you be able to taste food, solve problems or identify sounds in complete darkness? Now imagine the lives of the visually impaired who have to go through this every day.

Paradoxical as it may sound, experiencing what it is like to be blind is an eye-opening experience and you can embark on this for yourself at the Dialogue in the Dark exhibition at Petrosains The Discovery Centre in Suria KLCC from now until May 31.

Dialogue in the Dark Malaysia is a social enterprise and it organised the first ever Race in The Dark 2014 recently where participants were led into three different galleries to hear and identify sounds, touch and identify items and taste to identify food or drinks in complete darkness.

There were two race categories, namely Corporate and Media and one for the general public.

During the race, teams of eight to 10 participants were grouped for a Race in the Dark, a race of discovery and exploration in complete darkness.

Guests being briefed before entering the Dialogue in the Dark exhibition.

They were given a total of 45 minutes to complete this race using only their sense of touch, smell, taste and hearing to identify items that are often seen in their daily lives.

However, speed was not a deciding factor for the winner during Race in the Dark. The winners will be the ones with the most number of correct answers.

The Race in the Dark was in conjunction with World Glaucoma Week 2014 from March 9 to 15.

Funds collected from the registration fee for Race in The Dark 2014 will go towards the funding of medical bills and equipment for the Glaucoma Children through Save Ones Sight Mission Bhd, an organisation that is continuously working with and supporting children with glaucoma and the visually impaired.

Part of the funds will be put towards the efforts and aid of bringing in the first-ever guide dog to Malaysia, which will assist in starting the Dogs for Sight training facility.

“Our goal is to raise awareness and create tolerance for ‘otherness’ among the public, thereby overcoming barriers between ‘us’ and ‘them’.

“We create jobs for disadvantaged people by turning deficits into potentials and thereby strengthen the self-esteem of individuals who are typically undervalued,” said Dialogue in the Dark Malaysia’s founder and CEO Stevens Chan.

Chan was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2002. After he became blind, he had to go through nine eye surgeries. He gradually lost all of his vision in 2007 to the disease. Glaucoma, to-date, has no cure.

“Race in the Dark was an insightful experience, it shows so many things we take for granted. It was a great experience for humanity,” said participant Marina Tan.

“I feel blessed to have my eyesight. I would recommend this experience to my friends,” said another participant.

“It felt uncomfortable at first, but after a while I adjusted to the dark and was able to laugh without thinking how silly I looked.

“Thumbs up to the management for organising this great event that brings awareness to how important it is for us to take good care of our eyes,” said ThCy, on the Dialogue in the Dark Tripadvisor page.

“We would like to thank Sharmini for being such a wonderful guide and to let us experience what it is like to be in your world. We hope that you will continue to enjoy doing what you love and let nothing stop you from living life to the fullest,” added ThCy.

Chan and his wife founded Malaysia Glaucoma Society and later on, Save Ones Sight Missions Bhd (non-profit organisation), with the vision of stopping and preventing unnecessary blindness.

For those who missed the Race in the Dark, you can still catch them at The Dialogue In The Dark exhibition.

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