Patients with Low Vision benefit from Optical Sector Seeing Beyond the Eyes

Optrafair is delighted to announce the Seeing Beyond the Eyes Zone – focusing on sight loss, which empowers optical professionals with the knowledge and skills to effectively support low vision patients. The Zone is funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust, a national charity supporting people with sight loss, and will feature 6 interactive CET points from the excellent Seeing Beyond the Eyes team. The team is on a mission to get low vision higher up the agenda by empowering optical professionals to know where to refer patients with low vision for life-enhancing support as soon as they are diagnosed.

Patients with low vision are benefitting from an initiative developed by Visualise Training and Consultancy and funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust. Seeing Beyond the Eyes has released its impact report which highlights a huge increase in the number of optical professionals who will now refer patients with low vision to vital support services – up from only 9% to an impressive 96%.

The project benefits patients by connecting the optical and sight loss sectors and has trained over 2,200 delegates since its launch in May 2018. It aims to increase awareness of, and referrals to, local and national sight loss organisations and promote inclusivity across all eyecare services for people with, or at risk of sight loss.

Key highlights of the outcome report include raised awareness of how and where optical professionals can refer patients for support and the importance of doing so at the point of suspected diagnosis to avoid stress and anxiety. It also highlights patient feedback on how services can become more inclusive and accessible.

Seeing Beyond the Eyes is facilitated by the founder of Visualise Daniel Williams, who was named on the Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 list in 2018. Daniel is aiming to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by patients who are diagnosed with irreversible sight loss amongst the 15,000 optometrists and 6,000 dispensing opticians in the UK.

Daniel is a man on a mission with low vision working with Dispensing Opticians Peter Black and Jayshree Vasani to increase awareness of low vision support services.

Daniel has retinitis pigmentosa and developed the program in response to his own experience post-diagnosis. “At 8 years old, I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. One of the scariest things for my mother and me was the feeling of isolation and not knowing where to go for support.

We saw countless optometrists, dispensing opticians and ophthalmologists, but at no point were we signposted or referred to support services that would have made our journey easier. The good news is that optical professionals and their teams are now able to help people to know they are not alone and there is a positive future with the right knowledge and support. We don’t know, what we don’t know and if no-one has educated us why would we”

Phil Ambler, Director of Evidence and Policy at TPT, is extremely pleased by the ongoing success of the initiative.

We are delighted to have funded the Seeing Beyond the Eyes project and that it is helping to raise awareness among eye health professionals of the issues faced by blind and partially sighted people both in the clinic and beyond. It is important that services are accessible, and that people get the right services at the right time as part of their sight loss journey. Dan Williams and his team have done great work in bringing this message to a wider audience.

The report statistics show the project has made a huge impact and is achieving its overall aims but the 2,200 delegates trained so far only represents 9% of the UK optical workforce so there is still much to be done but given the excellent project results since the May 2018 launch, the team is confident this can be achieved.

You can read the full outcome report here

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The FMOs mission is to provide a national platform for optical manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and business service providers to communicate, educate and innovate. FMO plays a key role in educating the public about the importance of looking after their sight and having regular eye examinations.

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