Funding boost for sight loss support

A Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) service to support people newly diagnosed with sight loss has received a funding boost from health plan provider, Simplyhealth.

The investment will allow two RNIB eyecare liaison officer (ECLO) schemes in the south of England to expand.

The Isle of Wight service, based in St Mary’s Hospital in Newport, has been extended from part-time to full-time. The scheme at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, will be able to continue on a five-day basis. The two support nearly 70,000 patients.

They offer advice on issues such as independent living, returning to work, benefits,  technology and coping at home. The schemes also give patients and families the chance to talk about the impact of sight loss diagnosis and help to make informed choices about  maximising independence.

RNIB head of eyecare and confident living, Carolyn Chamberlain, said: “Receiving a sight loss diagnosis can be an overwhelming experience. ECLOs provide a vital service and ensure those patients who need help get tailored advice and support at a time when they need it the most.” 

She added: “This is another step in making sure no patient receives a diagnosis without support.”

Dr Sneh Khemka, Simplyhealth chief executive, said: “We are proud to fund this extension to RNIB’s ECLO service, which will help to reduce waiting times for patients and enable many more people dealing with sight loss to access the help they need.”

Laura Gooljar, RNIB ECLO at St Mary’s Hospital, said: “If someone is told their sight is deteriorating, it’s life-changing news. My role is about reassuring the patient that they’re not alone and helping them get the right support and information in a timely manner to enable them to remain independent. I am looking forward to providing a greater level of support and advice, helping more people than before.”

ECLOs form part of the RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service, which provides practical and emotional support over the phone, face-to-face at many hospital eye clinics, or online. Find out more