A nationwide CET roadshow was launched 14th May 2018 to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by patients who are diagnosed with irreversible sight loss.
Entrepreneur Dan Williams may be severely sight impaired, but he’s totally focused on improving the skills of the UK’s optometrists and dispensing opticians to help the 2 Million or so patients that are living with sight loss, a number that is expected to double over the next 30 years.
Dan has teamed up with dispensing opticians Jayshree Vasani and Peter Black to deliver “Seeing Beyond the Eyes” a 6-point CET event comprised of two discussion workshops: An Introduction to Visual Impairment and Saving Sight and Supporting Sight Loss.
In a sometimes moving discussion it is demonstrated how, with very little effort, opticians can make a huge difference in the lives of patients who have received the devastating news that they have irreversible sight loss and don’t know where to turn to.
The key take home message is that patients need emotional and practical support immediately on becoming visually impaired and cannot wait to be certified by an ophthalmologist. For that reason, and depending on availability, delegates were urged to refer patients to their local sight loss charity, Rehabilitation Officer for the Visually Impaired (ROVI), or Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) at the same time as being referred to ophthalmology to avoid any delays in support which could, for example, lead to them losing their job unnecessarily.
Opticians tend in this situation to think about low vision aids or magnifiers, and although they may be important, often the first step is adaptation of the home, mobility, emotional support, utilisation of modern technology and simple inexpensive gadgets to help with daily living.
A patient’s local garden centre may have a wider selection of magnifiers than their optician, and low vision services are the least commissioned of all the enhanced optical services negotiated by Local Optical Committees.
Daniel Williams said “I am pleased to launch our UK wide roadshow to empower Optoms and Opticians to see beyond the eyes as I have heard from many sight loss professionals that they don’t get enough referrals from optical professionals. We want to raise the profile of low vision amongst the optical community and ensure no patient leaves without a referral for support”
Watch the launch video:
Sadly, patients who don’t get the support they need are at greatly increased risk of mental illness, depression and even suicide and occasionally, opticians can save a life through diagnosis of a brain tumour or other serious condition.
Darren Paddick, an RNIB Eye Clinic Liaison Officer said “As an ECLO I felt it was very important to support this course, as in many cases a routine visit to an optician can be the start of a patient’s sight loss journey so it is of paramount importance that optometrists and dispensing opticians are made aware of the ECLO service. I was also curious to see how engaging and detailed the course would be, and I was not disappointed. The reaction from the delegates when they heard what support was out there in the form of an ECLO was worth coming along for alone!”
One delegate who attended, Peter Sunderland, optometrist and owner of FRAMED Opticians said “I found it really good. It was much more enjoyable than the usual run of the mill CET lectures. I think where it won was that we have the clinical skills and knowledge that LV patients need us to have, and, speaking for myself, the majority of the social and care side too, however that has a tendency to be put on the back burner in practice so it’s good to have it brought to the front again.”
Daniel states “I have been amazed with the amount of positive feedback from Optometrists and Opticians and how they are leaving the course and making positive changes, whether that’s making their practice design more inclusive, referring patients with low vision to support services or displaying leaflets of sight loss organisations. It is definitely a step in the right direction. One sight loss advisor has tried engaging with local opticians who were 300 metres away from the service but hadn’t been able to engage, however, the course has now brought the two together and the relationship is building. This just proves why such a project is so important.” Daniel went on say “I feel like I am the cement bringing the sight loss organisations and optical sector together for the good of patients!”
Listen to our Seeing Beyond the Eyes podcast produced by Tom Walker:
This is a national project; if you would like to book a place please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/visualise-training-and-consultancy-and-orbita-black-7994577028 or to find out more, contact Daniel here https://www.visualisetrainingandconsultancy.com/contact-us/