“There is help out there”
Devon in Sight chief executive officer Grahame Flynn on supporting patients with sight loss
08 April 2022
Receiving a sight-threatening diagnosis can be a lonely and challenging time. As patients grapple with what an eye condition means for their day-to-day lives, the practice team can play an important role in raising awareness of the advice and support available to those living with sight loss.
Sight loss helplines
“While people’s sight loss may not be treatable, there is always more that can be done to support people practically and emotionally, and practices can play a key role by helping people access this support,” he emphasised.
“While sight loss can be a traumatic and life-changing experience the important thing is for people affected with sight loss to know that there is help available, and that they are not alone as they learn to live with changes in their sight,” Flynn added.
Members of the practice team can assist by becoming familiar with the support that is available for those with sight loss both locally and nationally.
Eye clinic liaison officers provide support within hospital eye units, while local authority sensory teams can also advise on mobility, benefits and concessions.
Flynn’s Devon-based charity has developed the Sight Loss MOT.
“While there is a lot of support available, it can sometimes be hard to know where to start and who to speak to,” Flynn explained.
“This helps people navigate the help and support from across health and social care and the voluntary sector, and it is now being used nationally by several local sight loss charities and integrated community optometry practices,” he added.
There are also charities such as RNIB, the Macular Society and Glaucoma UK that have telephone helplines.
The Sight Loss MOT covers people’s understanding their diagnosis, the benefits of registering as being sight impaired, task lighting and magnification, daily living equipment, support for those in work and financial support, as well as emotional support and counselling for those who need it.
“Together we can help people who are blind or partially sighted live life to the full,” Flynn concluded.
Grahame’s assistive technology picks
Apps: There are some great apps for mobile phone and tablets such as TapTapSee, which describes the world around you, and Be My Eyes, where a volunteer describes an object for you.
Voice assistants: Technology such as Alexa makes it easier than ever to communicate with friends and access information, audio books and music.
Smart glasses: Exciting new wearable technology, such as the Oxsight Onyx smart glasses, help people with central vision loss.