VOL: 99, ISSUE: 48, PAGE NO: 30
Mark Browne, LL.B, is finance and project development officer, Low Vision and Eye Health Unit, Royal National Institute of the Blind, London
Nursing staff should be particularly aware of the four most common causes of sight loss:
Attendance at an eye clinic can be stressful, especially for patients attending the clinic on their own. In a survey carried out by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (McBride, 2001), patients voiced concerns about a lack of clear information about what was happening, especially concerning delays. Notices are of little use to patients who are unable to see what is going on and announcements made to the whole clinic, even via a speaker system, are ineffective if the patient has difficulty hearing above any background noise.
A diagnosis of sight loss can be a terrifying prospect. If a patient is particularly distressed or confused by the diagnosis and his or her needs cannot be addressed straight away by nursing staff, then the patient should be referred to a hospital-based eye clinic liaison officer (ECLO) or other support worker so that they can discuss any fears or concerns.
Much emphasis is rightly placed on a patient's medical care, but their social, emotional and additional care needs can often be overlooked in a busy clinic and ward setting. Patients with sight loss are often older people and they can be particularly vulnerable. When their needs are not addressed, patients with sight problems are often unable to move on.
The RNIB produces a series of leaflets to give patients a better understanding of their condition, treatment and prognosis. Conditions covered include age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, nystagmus and retinitis pigmentosa. In addition, RNIB has produced a series of factsheets describing some of the rarer conditions. Copies of these leaflets and factsheets can be obtained by contacting the RNIB Helpline on 0845 766 9999 or from the RNIB website .