Westminster Eye Health Day: “It brings so much hope to people like me”

Former teacher Berni Warren, who was diagnosed with diabetic macular oedema in her early 40s, explains what seeing eye health addressed in Parliament means to her

A woman in glasses and a black cardigan is gesticulating and speaking to a man who has his back to the camera

The Eyes Have It is a partnership of Macular Society, Fight for Sight/Vision Foundation, RNIB, Association of Optometrists, The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, and Roche. Roche has funded the activities of the partnership.


What are the eye health conditions that you are living with?

My main condition is diabetic macular oedema (DMO), which was diagnosed in 2012. I also have cataracts, ocular hypertension and narrow angles, and diplopia.

Has living with those conditions been a challenge for you?

Yes. It started for me in 2012. I was a teacher, working in a job with really young children, loving life, and doing all the things I wanted to do at my age. I lost my sight pretty quickly with DMO. It was going from one experience, of being fully sighted, into another. It was really scary, at the time. 

How was your journey to diagnosis?

It was really hard for me. I was working as a teacher, and thinking: ‘I’m not going to be able to do this job for much longer. What am I going to do with the rest of my life?’ I was in my early 40s. If it hadn’t been for charities, including Macular Society, Royal National Institute of Blind People, and Fight for Sight, being there for me, I honestly don’t know where I would be.

What has brought you to Westminster Eye Health Day?

I started to be involved with The Eyes Have It campaign back in 2021, when I was asked to be in a video. I am one of the patient stories for The Eyes Have It, and it was a really interesting experience being part of that. Although I was not new to sight loss, it really made me think about my sight loss, what was important to me, and how my life had changed because of it.

I was here last year for Westminster Eye Health Day, which I found really interesting. The work of The Eyes Have It resonates with my own experience so much, that I wanted to support it as much as I possibly could.

How does it feel to see people coming together on a day like this, in Parliament, to try and address the issues that you have faced?

It is so important. It brings so much hope to people like me, that actually we are being heard, we are being understood, and there is action. People want to change what is happening. I’m going to be going away from here and telling people about how much hope this sort of thing brings.