“I try and get glasses that are bright”
Grace McGill, SeeAbility expert by experience and eye care champion, shares her love for colourful glasses, and raising awareness of eye care for all
28 July 2023
How many pairs of spectacles and sunglasses do you own?I have two pairs of glasses and one pair of sunglasses. I also have a pair of swimming goggles. I swim two to three times a week.
What frame shapes, colours or styles do you usually choose?Anything bright and colourful. When I was younger, I didn’t get any choices for my glasses because of how thick my lenses were [and the NHS style of glasses at the time]. It might have only been between one or two frames and they were usually black or brown.
Can you describe your favourite pair?My favourite pair of glasses are colourful: blue and purple. I’d like a pair of rainbow glasses.
How long have you worn spectacles for?I have worn glasses since I was very young child. I had my cataracts taken out when I was 11 months old, so quite soon after that. I used to need to have them tied to the back of my head, because I used to try to pull them off and throw them.
What does eye health mean to you?I had a bilateral cataract operation at 11 months old. I had good eye care at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and left when I was about 16. Towards leaving GOSH I started getting really sore eyes and needed steroids. Unfortunately, I developed glaucoma and I lost a fair amount of my vision.
Then I developed Charles Bonnet Syndrome, which was misdiagnosed as psychosis and I was given anti-psychotic drugs which made no difference. In November 2016, I went into hospital to have two teeth taken out, and ended up on life support in the Intensive Care Unit. When I woke up, I didn’t have Charles Bonnet Syndrome anymore. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I did.
Now I take five lots of eye drops – one every two hours – for glaucoma, dry eyes and allergies. I get good eye care at both my optician’s practice and my hospital appointments.
Is it important to you that your eyewear shows your personality?Yes, I try and get glasses that are bright, although it depends on what the opticians recommend. I wear bright clothes.
What are your three top tips for selecting the right pair of frames?
- That they look good
- They fit well
- And do the job.
Getting it right for everyone
Could you tell us about what your roles at SeeAbility as an eye care champion and London Eyecare Pathway expert by experience involve?I’m an expert by experience for the London Eyecare Pathway. I am visually impaired and also have a learning disability. I try and tell people from my own experiences how eye care should be, and also what it shouldn’t be.
I’m also an eye care champion. I raise awareness of eye care for everyone, particularly those with a learning disability, who are 10 times more likely to have a sight problem. If you can get it right for someone with a learning disability, you can get it right for anyone.
What inspires or motivates you in your work at SeeAbility?Realising that you are doing it to help others, and also working with my colleagues who have learning disabilities or autism.
Is there anything that you would like optometrists to know about the importance of the Easy Eye Care pathway and getting this commissioned across London?
I think it's important because not everyone needs to go to the hospital for a routine test. It could be done in a lot less stressful way in a community practice for about a third of the time and cost. With support and reasonable adjustments everyone with a learning disability or autism can achieve their goals, just like me.