An eye clinic liaison officer at Burnley General Hospital is backing a national campaign by the Royal National Institute of Blind People to ensure support for patients losing their sight.
Jenny Molineux, who has an eye condition called Reverse Retinitis Pigmentosa and is registered blind, was supported through her diagnosis by the RNIB.
Her personal experience prompted Jenny to become an eye clinic liaison officer, being aware of the huge difference that emotional support can make when you are told you are losing your sight.
ECLOs work alongside health professionals in eye clinics to offer support and advice to blind and partially sighted people on a range of areas. This includes emotional support, independent living, returning to work and benefit entitlements.
Jenny said: “ECLOs provide such a vital role in breaking down barriers for people with sight loss. A huge barrier is fear. It’s a feeling I personally know well: fear of the unknown and panic about what the future holds for you after your diagnosis.
"By teaching people new skills and showing them a new way of looking at things, ECLOs empower people to turn their fear into a ‘can do’ attitude.”
ECLOs are an important part of RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service, which provides practical advice and emotional support over the phone, as well as face to face in eye clinics, for anyone affected by sight loss.
Research shows that one in four people with sight loss leave hospital unsure what condition they have, and that only 17% of people experiencing sight loss in the UK were offered any form of emotional support in relation to their deteriorating vision.
Eye Clinic Matron Carrie Earnshaw, from East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Having an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer is the best way to support patients in our very busy eye clinics at Burnley and Blackburn hospitals.
"Being diagnosed with an eye condition is often difficult to come to terms with, and Jenny does a fantastic job in helping our patients at what can be an extremely confusing and uncertain time.”
RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service gives practical and emotional support to anyone with an eye condition, as well as their family and carers.
The Sight Loss Advice Service is easy to use. You can either choose from a face-to-face appointment with one of the hospital-based ECLOs or speak to a sight loss adviser over the phone.
If you’d like to talk to a Sight Loss Adviser please call 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk