As we get older, our eyesight isn’t as good as I was when we were younger. Thankfully, it’s very rare these days for someone to lose their sight altogether but conditions such as macular degeneration and glaucoma can mean some people struggle, even wearing their normal glasses or contact lenses, to do everyday tasks such as reading or watching television. These people can benefit from a free consultation with a low vision specialist and starting to use some of the many vision aids available.
At Monnow Eyecare, Professor Barbara Ryan runs a regular Low Visions clinic. “The clinics provide one to one practical help and support for patients and their families” says Barbara “which enables them to be confident making small adjustments to their lifestyle that make a big difference to day to day tasks. Everybody I see is different, so we always discuss what’s most important for you. This might be reading cooking instructions, using a computer screen or being able to check the small print on a medicines box or bill. Sometimes it’s being able to continue doing much loved hobbies that have become more difficult recently. “
Barbara then helps people try out the different low vision aids, which include a wide range of items: magnifiers, different lights, electronic magnifiers, shields, typoscopes and reading stands. Any of these aids can be ordered on loan and taken home for you to use as long as you need them. With over 200 different aids available most patients find at least one or two items that they use regularly, helping them to make the very most of the sight that they have.
As a fully qualified low vision optometrist, Barbara offers specialist advice about your particular eye condition, as well as being able to give practical advice about how to best manage at home arranging lighting and seating. She will put you in touch with local voluntary support groups or organise referrals for extra help from social services, a GP or Ophthalmologist if this would help. You are invited back for an annual consultation to make sure the aids you are using continue to be the best option for you. In between appointments it’s easy to arrange a quick follow up appointment or a chat on the phone if you have any difficulties using your new aids.
Barbara has been interested in this field for many years. She has been published in international journals on sight loss and she was the founding clinical lead for the community based Low Vision Service Wales when it started in 2004. Barbara divides her time working at Monnow Eyecare and at Cardiff University.
The Low Vision service is funded by the Welsh Assembly and is completely free. If you have any questions or you would like to make an appointment, please contact the friendly reception team at Monnow by calling in at the practice on Cinderhill Street, call us on 01600 715 299 or you can and book an appointment online.