Sight loss charity Galloway’s is using National Eye Health Week to promote the importance of good eye health and the need for regular tests.

The Lancashire-based organisation warn that people should call their optician and get advice from an eye health professional if they experience a sudden onset of any of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of vision
  • Loss of peripheral (side) vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain with or without discharge
  • Light sensitivity
  • Double vision
  • Black spots or flashes of light in your vision
  • Curtain-like disappearance of vision
  • Disturbances in your vision
  • New floating bits in your vision
  • Eye injury or pain
  • Seeing halos or rainbows around light
  • Painful red eye

Do not ignore these symptoms , or wait until lockdown restrictions have eased, as this could have an impact on a person’s vision.

As optometrists across England are able to expand their services beyond urgent and essential care, patients are urged to call to book an appointment. Depending on symptoms, the optometrists can initially provide a telephone or virtual consultation.

Ruth Cuthbert, optometric advisor for NHS England, Lancashire and South Cumbria, and a Trustee at Galloway’s, says: “Sudden changes to your vision such as flashes, floaters or blurry vision, or your eyes becoming red and painful, could be a sign of a more serious condition.

“Many practices are still open for essential and urgent care, such as if you get something lodged in your eye. You may also be able to get help if you have a problem with your contact lenses or you’ve broken your glasses.

“Optometrists are trained to identify visual problems and many conditions and will often be able to do this via a remote consultation or will ask you to come in, if needed.

“Call your usual practice to find out, and if they are closed, they can direct you to another that is nearby.

“There’s never been a more important time to look after your eyes.”

Any patients taking eye drops should continue as normal and ensure that they access prescriptions well in advance so as not to run out.

If anyone feels their vision is getting worse, or has any concerns regarding their eyes, contact Glen Sheader, Eye Clinic Liaison Officer at Galloway’s, by calling 07498 369 881 or emailing Glen.sheader@nhs.net or glen.sheader@galloway.org.uk.

Galloway’s, which has sites in Penwortham, Chorley, Southport and Morecambe, supports more than 7,000 blind and partially sighted people across Sefton and Lancashire.

Case study

Alan Woodward, who has macular degeneration, admitted he was slightly wary as he went to Westmorland General Hospital for one of his regular macular injections. But staff soon put the 83-year-old from Bolton-le-Sands at ease and he felt safe, as he says: “I was quite apprehensive about going to the hospital, but it was not that terrible and all the staff involved were marvellous.

“Glen, the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer at Galloway’s, organised patient transport for me, which took a lot of worry out of going.  I felt very safe as the driver Chris was in the front of the minibus and I was sat all the way in the back, which was well in excess of 2m. Chris kindly supplied me with a mask and gloves.

“When I got to the hospital, I sat in a large waiting room. Previously there would be around 25 to 30 people, but this time there was only four of us.

“I did feel relatively safe.

“I was given an eye test and they checked the pressure at the back of my eye. I then saw another nurse who took photos of my eye using a special machine. That didn’t take that long. Then I was asked to go into another room on my own which was quite spacious. A doctor came in to see the bleed behind my eye and I was given my injection.

“So far I have had seven injections in my eye and I had not had one for seven months due to the problems with the virus. I had a slight bleed behind the eye, so I did need another injection and I will go back in six weeks for another one.

“Then I went into another room and a nurse put my eye drops in, washing her hands before and after. Everyone was wearing masks and gloves. They were wiping the seats and I did feel very safe.

“Obviously, it is very important to attend your appointments. You have to get over your apprehension because your eyes can deteriorate fairly quickly. If you don’t get the medication and help you need, you could lose your sight.”