Last week, patients brought friends and family to a special event hosted by the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust’s eye team, so they could find out more about what it is like to live with low vision.
“Losing your vision is much easier when those around you are aware and have the confidence to tackle issues with you,” explained Sarah Short, Senior Eye Clinic Liaison Officer.
“In clinic, patients often say that their families and friends don't understand what they are going through with their low vision; saying things like ‘over there’ and pointing. Many patients say they wish they could show loved ones what it is like to live practically and emotionally with their condition. Our event last week gave them the opportunity to do just that.”
24 people attended the successful and fun evening, where they discussed common eye conditions and barriers to independence, along with the emotional consequences of sight loss. Attendees then split into groups to practice sighted guiding techniques, with guests with full vision invited to carry out practical activities whilst wearing special glasses that simulate low vision.
The Ophthalmology team at the Royal Berks knows it is important to treat not only the clinical aspect of a person’s eye condition, but also understand the huge emotional and social challenges that patients face when diagnosed with a sight threatening condition.
"We need to reassure our patients that we are there to guide them and help them to continue to thrive. Support events like this are so important and we are very excited to be arranging another event at the Prince Charles Eye Unit in Windsor in the summer,” said Sonya Nikchevska, Eye Clinic Liaison Officer.
“Feedback we have collected has been very positive: “so helpful and informative, we learned a great deal”, and “this evening helped us understand issues that are really a problem, for example, support groups, where to look for information and advice, and how to deal with stairs, chairs and gaps - thank you”," she added.
Summing up the evening Arinder Channa, Senior Orthoptist concluded: "It was literally eye opening to see the struggles and challenges that patients face at home, as clinicians we are not often privileged to this.
“We were delighted that the evening was so well received, and would like to say a huge thank you to the Reading Mobilty Team at Guidedogs for helping us run the event.”