Pancyprian Organization of the Blind

1. Introduction

The Pancyprian Organization of the Blind was established in 1980 by 30 blind and partially sighted people, citizens of Cyprus. Until then, sighted people, members of the Pancyprian Association for the Welfare of the Blind, had represented the blind people in Cyprus and abroad.

The Organization is non-governmental and mainly charity funded. The main financial supporter of the Organization is the above Association, which continues its involvement in fund-raising activities and projects for the welfare of the blind in general.

The Board of the Organization consists of 14 members of whom, at present, ten are men and four are women. There are also 15 standing committees operating in different areas of activity. All members of the Organization can participate in the standing committees, thus contributing to the administration and coordination of the programmes and services of the Organization.

President of the Organization is 45-year-old Senior Officer at the Ministry of Finance Christakis Nicolaides. He replaced Mr. Michael Florentzos, a 60-year-old Attorney at the Law Services of Cyprus, who was the President from the year of the establishment of the Organization in 1980 until the year 2005. Mr. Christakis Nicolaides was elected as the Secretary General of the Organization in 1996 and was re-elected for a third successive period to this post in May 2002. The election of the new board, due to the amendments of the constitution of the Organization, is on June, 2008.

2. Membership

Any person over 18 years old who has total loss of vision or whose vision acuity is below 6/60 in the best eye (1/10 of the usual vision), even with the use of any corrective lenses or spectacles, may be accepted as a member of the Organization. The Organization has today 1039 members (476 women / 563 men "45,81 & 54,19, accordingly") out of the estimated 2.200 blind and visually impaired people living in Cyprus. About 125 (67 pupils and 58 girls) of the above 2200 people are children and teenagers under 18 years old, who are also supported by the Pancyprian Organization of the Blind.

4. Goals of the Organization
    The main goals of the Organization are-
  • promotion of social welfare of the blind,
  • prevention of blindness and medical treatment of the blind,
  • promotion of the education of the blind,
  • the encouragement and promotion of suitable academic and vocational education of the blind,
  • the rehabilitation and integration of the blind,
  • providance of required technical aids and appliances for the work and the daily life of the blind,
  • the creation of conditions and situations for equivalent living standards and the integration of blind persons into the community in general,
  • the dissemination of information with regard to the problems and the welfare of the blind, and
  • the development and the promotion of sports among and between the blind.
5. Causes of blindness
    The main reasons of blindness in Cyprus are the following:

  • Diabetic Retinopathy (209 members of the Organisation),
  • Glaucoma (179 members),
  • Retina diseases (102 members),
  • Leber Amaurosis (7 members),
  • Myopia (22 members),
  • Maculopathy / Stargart Syndrome (78 members),
  • Tumor (10 members)
  • Cataract (58 members),
  • Optical atrophy of the seeing nerve (44 members),
  • Macular degeneration diseases (68 members),
  • cornea diseases (28 members),
  • Albinism (17 members),
  • retina detachment (19 members),
  • Aniridia (12 members),
  • Accidents (45 members),
  • Episcopi syndrome (Norris Disease) (8 members),
  • Other hereditary eye diseases (29 members),
  • Various illnesses (58 members),
  • Unknown (no diagnosis) (46 members).
6. Programs, services and activities of the Pancyprian Organization of the Blind

In order to achieve its goals, the organization maintains and runs social services, rehabilitation services, training services in special methods in the use of electronic and other aids and means, Braille and talking book libraries, transcription and recording services, information services, vocational training services, legal advice and consultation services, services for national and international relations, sports programmes, recreational activities, leisure and entertainment, etc.