Patients with low vision are benefiting from an initiative developed by Visualise Training and Consultancy, and funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust.

Seeing Beyond the Eyes, an initiative launched in May 2018 to forge stronger connections between the sight loss and optical sectors for the benefit of patients, has released its first impact report.

The project benefits patients by connecting the optical and sight loss sectors, and has trained over 2,200 delegates since its launch. It aims to increase awareness of, and referrals to, local and national sight loss organisations and promote inclusivity across all eye care 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.

The report 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 per cent to an impressive 96 per cent.

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 has retinitis pigmentosa and developed the programme 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 we were not 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.”

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 2,200 delegates trained so far only represents 9 per cent of the UK optical workforce. Daniel and the team believe that the project has already made a huge impact and are confident they will continue this success in 2019.

You can read the full outcome report here.

Download a free copy of the Seeing Beyond the Eyes resource pack here.

For more information on the project, please contact daniel@visualisetrainingandconsultancy.co.uk or visit the Visionary website.