Mission

Our mission is to enhance the ability of people with vision loss to lead active, independent lives.

ADAPT. LEARN. THRIVE.

Who We Serve

What does it mean to be low-vision, or visually impaired?
Low vision is a partial loss of sight (also referred to as partially sighted, severe vision impairment). It is often a loss of visual acuity or sharpness, but may be a loss of side vision or extreme difficulty with light or glare. Low vision exists when functional vision cannot be adequately corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, medications or surgery.

Legal blindness is a level of visual impairment that has been defined by law to determine eligibility for benefits. It refers to a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction, as measured on a Snellen vision chart, or a visual field of 20 degrees or less.

The Four Most Common Causes of Vision Loss

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible severe central vision loss in Caucasians over the age of 50 in the U.S. The incidence and progression of all the features of AMD is known to increase significantly with age. It results from damage to the macula, which is the central part of the retina responsible for central vision and ability to see detail. Although the extent of central vision loss can be significant, macular degeneration alone rarely causes total blindness.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma in its most common form is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States, and the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans. Glaucoma is a disease where pressure within the eye is so high that it can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss. It affects side vision long before central vision is affected. Although glaucoma cannot yet be prevented, it can usually be controlled or stopped with treatment and medication.

Diabetic Retinopathy: Diabetic Retinopathy is a complication of diabetes caused by damage to blood vessels in the retina. It is one of the four leading causes of severe vision impairment in older Americans. The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy is greater the longer someone has diabetes. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, about 80 percent of people who have had diabetes for at least 15 years have some damage to the retina.

Cataract: Cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, which is normally clear. Light can no longer pass through the lens easily, and vision becomes hazy or blurred. The current treatment, which is safe and highly successful, is surgical removal of the lens which is usually replaced with an intraocular man-made lens.
There are many other conditions that can cause a significant loss of vision. It always best to consult with your eye care physician about any concerns with your vision and to get regular eye exams.

Our Public Information Series provides information on Sight Connection services, adaptive devices, techniques and common eye health issues for individuals and family members.

Age Related Eye Diseases At A Glance provides an overview of some of the major eye conditions.

History

Our organization was founded in 1965 when three agencies serving people with vision loss merged to become Community Services for the Blind. Since that time we have worked hard to become the Northwest’s leading private vision rehabilitation agency specializing in helping people with vision loss stay active and independent. Our primary focus is on individuals with vision loss who are 55 or older.
In 2011 we changed our name from Community Services for the Blind and Partially Sighted to Sight Connection.

Sight Connection is registered with the IRS as a tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization. We are also registered with the Washington Secretary of State (800) 332-GIVE. We are governed by an elected volunteer Board of Directors. Our programs and services are funded through a variety of sources. In 2010, 85% of net revenues raised went directly to our vision rehabilitation programs and services.

Now in its 50th year, Sight Connection is the Northwest’s leading private vision rehabilitation agency specializing in helping people with vision loss stay active and independent. We serve all ages in King, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit and Snohomish counties.

Our programs and services include our low vision clinic, safe travel and independent living training, counseling and education services, assistive technology support and independent living aids store.

We are funded through a variety of sources both public and private. In 2010, 85% of net revenues raised went directly to our vision rehabilitation programs and services. Sight Connection is registered with the IRS as a tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization and with the Washington Secretary of State (800) 332-GIVE. We are governed by an elected volunteer Board of Directors.

Our Origins

Our organization was founded in 1965 when the American Federation for the Blind helped bring three Seattle agencies together to become Community Services for the Blind. Our original location was Downtown Seattle and Chuck Brown was our first Executive Director. What started as a community center that provided a social gathering space for the blind in Seattle has grown in to a comprehensive low vision services agency supporting five counties.

Denny building, woman helping man cross street, woman helping telephone

1965

Sight Connection, then known as Community Services for the Blind was founded when the American Federation for the Blind helped bring three different Seattle agencies together.

Chuck Brown was the first Executive Director.

Two women talking, historic building, and woman helping with magnifiers

1965-1974

Moved from downtown Seattle to Queen Anne, which provided space for programs such as social events, arts, crafts, rehabilitation training, and a group kitchen.

In partnership with the United Way, developed programs and services to assist the growing population of visually impaired seniors who were isolated and not being helped by traditional agencies.

Woman helping shop and group CSBPS photo

1975-1984

Helen Marie S. Kind became Executive Director.

Developed Personal Service Volunteer program. Volunteers helped clients by reading mail, running errands, assisting with paying bills, and other household chores. The program served more than 200 clients with 150 volunteers.

Opened first Low-Vision Clinic and hired Dr. Steve Evers, OD as the first low-vision optometrist.

Community Services for the Blind became Vision Services: An Agency for the Visually Impaired.

Woman giving lecture and woman helping man walk

1985-1994

Moved to our current Northgate location.

June Mansfield became Executive Director.

Peter Dawson became our first blind Board Chair.

Changed name to Community Services for the Blind and Partially Sighted

Eye exam expo table

1995-2004

Launched the first online Adaptive Aids store, and began selling low-vision aids around the world.

Organized educational Expo for low-vision people in Western Washington. More than 200 people attended.

2005-2015

Lobbied Congress to have low-vision services covered under Medicare.

Changed our name to Sight Connection.

Shannon Grady Martsolf became Executive Director