“I’m here to help low vision patients to improve the quality of their lives.”

Tony McGrail, Dispensing Optician and Low Vision Practitioner at Wallwork Opticians in Swinton, tells us about the benefits and outcomes of having a Low Vision Assessment:

tony blog“As a Dispensing Optician I needed a new challenge and so I enrolled on a Low Vision Honours course and after two years of text books and optics calculations along with practical advice in the hospital environment, I attained the FBDO (Hons) LVA qualification.

Having the opportunity to run a low vision clinic at Wallwork Opticians, I am free to supply patients with what I consider to be appropriate, without the restrictions of hospital’s preferred suppliers or what they are able to stock.

Failing sight affects us more as we get older and a recent study indicated that 70% of people who are registered with a visual impairment are 75 and over. Low vision patients range from those with early AMD to those registered severely sight impaired and have adapted to their condition over several years. Many have multiple ocular conditions, dealing with the elderly also means they often have several other medical complaints.

A valuable part of the low vision assessment is explaining what the eye condition is in simple terms, so that the patient appreciates why they are having difficulty. Quite often a chat and reassurance puts minds at rest and gives patients the strength to face the next challenge.

Many patients are worried about medical appointments and a low vision assessment is no exception. If it is a first visit, they don’t know what to expect; they often presume that nothing can be done because that is what they have been told and are not looking forward to another appointment which achieves nothing. It is good to involve family members or close friends with the patients permission, as they are acutely affected by their loved ones problems and are almost as delighted as they are when an LVA is successful. It is important that the patient is reassured and that their confidence is gained. As the assessment proceeds and you establish their needs and provide suitable low vision aids, the patient becomes more positive and usually thinks of other areas where they may need extra help.

Adapting to sight impairment is a traumatic experience and these days we hear so much about wonderful carers, but people really want to be able to do things for themselves and not be reliant on others. Giving patients some independence back is one of the main goals of the assessment.

We are very fortunate within Salford that we have a Low Vision Initiative which is currently funded and we are able to provide a low vision aid completely free under the scheme to Salford residents. At Wallwork Opticians we have a large stock of aids so they can be dispensed immediately, on the day of the assessment.

Some people may view the low vision clinic as the end of the road, but I look at it as the starting place for a new way to cope with visual impairment. Not all VIPs are Visually Impaired People, but all visually impaired people are VIPs.”

Photo of the sign outside 'Wallwork Opticians' displaying its name

For further information about the low vision assessment or low vision aids please contact:

Tony McGrail FBDO (Hons) LVA
Wallwork Opticians
308 Worsley Road
M27 0AG

Tel. 0161 794 2454

E-mail: tony@wallworkopticians.com

Website: www.wallworkopticians.com

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Sabine is a Marketing Officer at Henshaws and is responsible for all marketing and communications activity for community services across Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.
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