A new campaign aimed at raising awareness about preventable sight loss will launch during National Eye Health Week, which takes place from Monday 23 to Sunday 29 September.
#Seeitmyway has been developed by The Barnsley Vision Strategy Group, in response to Public Health England figures which show that Barnsley has the worst rate of preventable sight loss in the country.
They want to make residents aware that half of sight loss cases are avoidable by taking simple steps such as having regular eye tests every two years, visiting your local optician when you have a concern about your eyes, stopping smoking, eating healthily, keeping eyes covered in the sun and only drinking alcohol in moderation.
The group is working together to develop ways to prevent sight loss, promote local eye health services, develop services for Barnsley people who have a sight loss and reduce stigma.
The term “sight loss” includes people who have a sight loss that's affecting their everyday life; they may or may not be registered as sight impaired (partially sighted) or severely sight impaired (blind).
A number of events have been arranged for the week, including an information session about sensory impairment services inside the Alhambra Centre, 10am to 3pm on Thursday, 26 September; and an open information event for the general public at the Library @ the Lightbox, organised by Barnsley Blind and Partially Sighted Association and supported by members of the Barnsley Vision Strategy Group on Friday, 27 September, 12.30pm to 3.30pm.
Residents are invited to pop in and find out more about keeping their eyes healthy, local services, equipment and resources, social activities and groups.
In response to a consultation with adults with sight loss earlier this year, Digital Champions will also be available at the Library @ the Lightbox during the event to offer support and advice on how to make the best use of your electronic devices. Sessions for people with sight loss on using voice technology in the home (Amazon Echo and Google Mini) are being offered from 2.30pm to 3.15pm, and 3.15pm to 4pm on the lower ground floor.
Cllr Jenny Platts, Cabinet Spokesperson for Communities, said: “Early identification is essential because sight loss has such a dramatic impact on wellbeing. The risk of depression and falls is over two times greater amongst older people with low vision when compared to those with normal sight. Sight loss is also a risk factor in loneliness and isolation.
“It is important that you have an eye test at least every two years, even if there’s no change in your vision – you may be entitled to a free eye test. Eligibility can be found on the NHS website or by checking with an optician. It’s also really important that parents and carers make sure that their children have regular eye checks.”
“Additionally NHS Barnsley CCG has commissioned a Minor Eye Condition service through local opticians. If you have a problem with your eyes such as sore eyes, red eyes or visual disturbance you can contact a participating optician for a free appointment and treatment. More information, including a list of participating opticians and a list of eye conditions can be found at: http://www.barnsleyccg.nhs.uk/patient-help/eyes.htm”
There are a number of organisations in Barnsley that can help residents who experience sight loss. More information is available at https://www.barnsley.gov.uk/services/health-and-wellbeing/eye-health/