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Finding help with sight loss

If you are worried about the deterioration of your sight, see your family doctor immediately. Many eye problems can be alleviated by early diagnosis and specialist treatment.

Lots of people visit our Echurch site looking for information about deteriorating sight. As visually impaired people ourselves, we are informed consumers rather than experts. but we are happy to share from our limited experience and knowledge.

  1. Attending an eye hospital or clinic
  2. Low vision aids
  3. Blind and partially sighted registration
  4. Getting around with sight loss
  5. Disability Living Allowance
  6. Coping with worries and feelings
  7. Electronic and digital aids
  8. Some useful websites

Attending an eye hospital or clinic

Should you have to see an eye specialist, you will probably be given an appointment to visit an eye clinic in a hospital. Ask a friend to accompany you, or to drive you home, for the use of medical drops to assist in examination may temporarily affect your sight. It can take several hours for it to return to normal. Where you are unable to get help to travel, tell your family doctor or social worker, so this can be arranged on your behalf. If you are entitled to claim travelling expenses, remember to ask your driver for a receipt, or ticket, as proof of your journey.

Low vision aids

If you cannot see clearly with prescribed glasses and contact lenses, you may be able to improve your circumstances by using a low vision aid. These useful aids, such as specialised magnifiers or monoculars, are only used when needed. They are generally small enough to keep in a pocket or handbag. Some will be helpful for reading smaller print and others for appreciating scenery or reading street signs. If you want to find out the location of your low vision clinic, contact your nearest eye hospital or the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

Blind and partially sighted registration

If your specialist eye doctor considers your sight to be exceptionally poor and cannot be improved, you may be given the choice of registering your sight disability with your local authority. There are two registers, one for those who are partially sighted and another for people who are blind. There are one million people on these registers in United Kingdom. Being registered will make it easier for you to get the help you need in furthering your ambitions in education, work, home or community. This includes improved benefits and funding, tax and transport concessions, reduced television licence and a disabled parking pass for when you are being driven around. You will also be supported and protected by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Getting around with sight loss

Blind and partially sighted people need to get around and to enjoy life. If you keep on bumping into obstacles or losing your way, you can get practical advice on improving your mobility. You can also get help in coming to terms with sight loss, reading, writing and household tasks. For further advice, talk to your doctor first; or see a social worker, your local blind association or Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Disability Living Allowance

If you are registered blind or partially sighted you may be entitled to claim Disability Living Allowance. It is possible that you may qualify for both the mobility and care components, for sight loss causes difficulties both in the home and outside. Your savings are not taken into account. It cannot be taxed and it does not interfere with low income benefits. Do not attempt to fill in the application form without professional assistance. Many of its questions are open to misinterpretation and new applicants often underestimate their own need. Instead, seek the help of your social worker, local blind association or the Citizens' Advice Bureau.

Coping with worries and feelings

Losing a significant amount of sight can cause considerable distress. It is often life changing. As well as dealing with the practical aspects of finding things and getting around, feelings of anger, despair and low self-esteem have to be overcome. Where needed, professional counsellors are available within the National Health Service.

Major organisations specialising in supporting visually impaired people offer similar services. Sharing feelings and worries with a close friend or a trusted family member can also be very useful. Most church ministers are happy to let you talk things over with them - whether you are a churchgoer or not. Your family doctor, social worker or local blind association will be able to help you. If you need a listening ear, you can telephone or email the Samaritans

Electronic and digital aids

Many blind and partially sighted people use computers and specialised notepads for education, work and recreation. Some use small computers which provide speech or braille displays. Others use adaptive software which enables them to use standard desktop and laptop computers. Software can provide magnification and speech options for standard Windows programs. A braille display can be fitted to a standard computer. You can get an assessment of your needs from AbilityNet UK.

Some useful links

For links to web sites of companies, organisations and charities which offer assistance to blind and partially sighted people in the United Kingdom. Personal contact, education, information, libraries, news, shopping, support and training, see our directory of blind and partially sighted links.

Please note: Echurch-UK is not responsible for the content or accessibility of external Internet sites

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