If a friend or family member notices their vision is starting to deteriorate, they might turn to you for advice and support. There are lots of ways you can help a loved one if they’re experiencing symptoms of sight loss and we’ve outlined some of our top suggestions below.
This is the first thing you should do (if you haven’t already)! It may just be that your friend/family member needs a new pair of glasses, but if they’re experiencing other symptoms – like seeing halos around bright lights, or gaps or dark spots across their vision – they might have a condition like cataracts or AMD, which can lead to serious sight loss if left untreated. The sooner eye conditions are diagnosed, the better the chance of treating them, so make sure your friend/family member books an appointment as soon as they notice a change in their vision.
Their optician will be able to get to the bottom of their symptoms and explain the treatment options available to them.
Once your friend/family member has received a diagnosis, it’s always helpful to do some research so – if they come to you with any worries or concerns – you can help to put their mind at rest. For example, if your loved one is diagnosed with cataracts, they might put off having surgery because they’re worried about how the anaesthetic is administered or frightened about experiencing complications. By researching more about the condition, you’ll be able to tell them that anaesthetic is given through eye drops, not an injection; the procedure only takes ten minutes (and they won’t have to be put to sleep for it), and cataract surgery has a 99% success rate.
We’ve included lots of helpful information on our website so you/your loved ones can find out more about three of the most common causes of sight loss: cataracts, posterior capsule opacification and AMD. We find that our patient interviews and case studies are really helpful at putting patients’ minds at rest as they can hear from people who have been through treatment themselves – with excellent outcomes.
The RNIB website has an A-Z list of eye conditions, explaining what they are and how they’re treated, and the Macular Society has some fantastic resources for people who have been diagnosed with macular disease.
Did you know, as an NHS patient, your friend/family member can choose where to have their treatment? It’s important to make them aware of this, because if your local hospital has long waiting lists and/or poor outcomes, chances are, your friend/family member would prefer to be treated elsewhere.
Some factors you might want to consider if you’re choosing a treatment provider together include:
You can research treatment providers online, or ask your local optician for their recommendations and advice.
People with vision loss can find it difficult to drive, especially at night, when it can be harder to see the road and street signs. Some conditions, like cataracts, can make driving at night especially dangerous because patients often see halos and glare from oncoming headlights or traffic lights. If you’re worried about your loved one’s ability to drive safely, you should encourage them to visit their opticians to see if they still meet the legal requirements for driving. If they don’t, you and other family members may have to rally around to ensure they’re still able to get out and about when they need to.
Even if your friend/family member still meets the legal standards for driving, they won’t be able to drive to and from their hospital appointments because we use dilating eye drops before eye tests and treatment, which cause blurred vision and sensitivity to light and take a few hours to wear off. If you’re able to give your loved one a lift to/from their appointments, it will be one less thing for them to worry about, and no doubt they’ll appreciate the moral support too. You’re welcome to wait in our reception area or go and have a look around town for a couple of hours – we’ll call you when your loved one is ready to go home.
Don’t worry if you can’t get time off work or don’t have access to transport, though, because we also offer a free transport service for patients.
Depending on the severity of your loved one’s sight loss, day-to-day chores can become more difficult. One of our patients said the only downside of having cataract surgery was getting home and seeing all the dust around his house! Ask your friend/family member if there are any activities they’re particularly struggling with and try and pop in a couple of times a week to help out. If they’re finding it difficult to cook because they can’t read recipes, or they’re worried about cutting their fingers when chopping ingredients, why not prepare some extra portions of food to pop in their freezer? If they can’t see their rosebushes well enough to deadhead them, they might appreciate some help around the garden, too.
All of our patients are given information booklets which detail what they should and shouldn’t do after treatment. You might want to read these too so you can intervene if it looks like your friend/family member is a bit too keen to reclaim their independence! You won’t need to stay with them overnight following treatment, but it might be helpful for you to reiterate the advice in our patient information booklets e.g. when to remove their eye shield and how/when to use their eye drops. One of the key things to avoid is putting extra pressure on their eyes by bending down, lifting heavy objects, or doing strenuous exercise. It’s also important for your loved one to avoid touching or rubbing their eye while it’s healing, so just give them a gentle reminder if necessary.
This is good advice for everyone, but it’s especially important for people with pre-existing eye conditions.
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Our team of friendly experts can provide support, offer advice, and answer any questions you have. Here’s how to get in touch.
There are lots of wonderful organisations and charities that offer information and advice about eye conditions, treatments and living with reduced vision.
At SpaMedica, we believe in giving people the best advice and choices to help improve their vision and pride ourselves on providing exceptional patient care.