A safe holiday connection

This holiday gathering safely allowed some UAB patients with vision impairment to visit with their friends and colleagues.

connection.2The staff of UAB Connections, a support group for adults with a vision impairment and their families, held a drive-by holiday celebration for their participants this weekend. The socially distanced event was a chance for members of the support group to visit and chat with each other and their caregivers.

“We hadn’t been able to hold an in-person event since February due to the pandemic, so this was a perfect opportunity for old friends to catch up,” said Laura Dreer, Ph.D., an associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and director of Connections. “Everyone said it was a wonderful change from their usual life during COVID, which is pretty much just going to doctors’ offices, getting medications, adult children urging them not to go out and do things so they don’t get infected, and basically just sitting at home.” 

“It’s simple acts like this of reaching out to others during these difficult times that can really have a big impact on someone’s emotional well-being and spirits,” said Molly Cox, lead facilitator for Connections. “It did a lot for our own spirits as well to see our group members and their families.”

The Connections staff played holiday music and passed out gift bags with goodies, homemade pastries and hot chocolate. Everyone stayed in their cars and wore masks, but had a chance to experience some valuable person-to-person communication.

Before shutting down due to COVID-19, UAB Connections held regular group meetings at Callahan Eye Hospital and planned recreational activities in the community. Group meetings cover topics including education regarding eye health, eye diseases, cutting-edge research updates, coping strategies for adjustment, adaptive and environmental strategies for home and community settings, stress management, and tips for how to talk to your doctor and communicate with family and/or the public about your vision. 

There is no cost to participate with UAB Connections. However, donations are welcome. For more information on UAB Connections or to donate, contact Molly Cox at (205) 488-0778 or mollycox@uabmc.edu.