Posted on Thursday 11 May 2017
June Stillman at Streatham Library
An 84 year-old Brixton woman with severe sight loss is getting treatment and advice closer to where she lives, thanks to the opening of Guy’s and St Thomas’ new Low Vision Clinic at Streatham Library.
The one-stop clinic means that patients with a visual impairment can have their appointment with an optometrist from Guy’s and St Thomas’, get support to stay independent at home, and find out about local events and activities for the visually impaired - all under one roof and on the same day.
Previously patients had to travel to St Thomas’ Hospital for medical appointments and find out about any additional support available themselves.
June Stillman, a retired nursery nurse, was registered severely sight impaired four years ago due to age-related macular degeneration. This is a painless eye condition which causes the loss of central vision, usually in both eyes.
June says: “I always wore glasses and I noticed that I wasn’t seeing so well. I went for my annual check-up with my optician who referred me to St Thomas’.
“My sight loss was very gradual. Now I can recognise a walk and I’d know a friend but I can’t see the details of faces.”
June says of the new Low Vision Clinic in Streatham: “I’ve lived in the area for 60 years and I didn’t even know the library existed! Today I’ve had an eye test and I’ve been given a new magnifier, which is stronger and will help me to read.
I also saw the rehabilitation officer and she’s looking at putting better lighting in my kitchen so I can eat properly at home. We also talked about typing aids to help me when I’m using the computer.
“It’s saved me a lot of time. I can get everything done in one place. I think it’s brilliant.”
The clinic brings together experts from Guy’s and St Thomas’ rehabilitation officers for visual impairment from Lambeth Council and volunteers from SELVIS, a charity which supports people diagnosed with sight loss across south east London.
Dr Sarah Janikoun, associate specialist in ophthalmology at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says: “When someone becomes severely or partially sighted it can be overwhelming. They may wonder how they will cope.
“With the opening of this new service at Streatham Library, our patients can get the support they need, physical, emotional and practical, closer to where they live rather than travelling to St Thomas’.
“Patients can also try out the latest technology, like screen readers and scanners, that give them the privacy to read letters, newspapers, magazines and even medicine bottles independently. The library also runs computer courses for visually impaired people to get or improve their computer skills.
“We hope the clinic will help many people with visual impairments to go on to live enriched and fulfilling lives.”
Lambeth Council’s rehabilitation officers for visual impairment provide advice about patients’ eligibility to register as severely or partially sight impaired and the support available to them once they are registered. They provide a range of support including training people how to use the limited vision they have to read, ways to get around, and developing cookery skills.
Cllr Jim Dickson, Cabinet member for Healthier and Stronger Communities, said: “The council’s team provides reassurance and encouragement to the visually impaired people who visit the clinic. We want them to know that they are not alone and that we are here to help.”
To find out more about the Low Vision Clinic at Streatham Library contact 020 7188 4569. For information about activities and events for visually impaired people in Southwark and Lambeth visit www.selvis.org.uk and www.southlondonvision.org.