As a professional qualified optician, I am required to attend courses on a regular basis to make sure that my knowledge is right up to date and that I’m able to give proper current advice and help to you. It is always great to learn new things or be reminded of what I know, but had forgotten.
On Wednesday I attended a course in Birmingham which covered magnifiers for home and hobbies, and the problems certain eye conditions and just getting older can create. I have to say that it was one of the most entertaining, enjoyable and informative days education that I have spent for a number of years. The advances in technology in stand magnifiers and handheld aids is absolutely astounding.
The first lecture spent a great deal of time explaining in great detail exactly how certain eye conditions affect the way that people see, particularly the way that our visual field can be affected. This made a great impression on me, and significantly improved my understanding of the problem that can be faced when eye conditions develop. The way that magnifiers and aids can help in macular degeneration for example is totally different from those which help someone whose sight has been damaged by glaucoma.
In the second lecture the actual technology of the modern magnifiers and lighting was investigated and demonstrated in much greater detail. One fact that I knew, but was reinforced, was that the older eye needs much more light to function properly, and it was pointed out that my eyes need 15 times more light now than when I was 16! How often is it that we go to the light switch the light when we trying to read something? It was demonstrated that with the modern, safe LED lights used in the right way a massive difference can be made and I saw personally how much the new digital lighting on the carefully designed magnifier can transform the ability to read and perform everyday tasks and hobbies, even when the vision is quite poor. When this is all combined together it is now possible to improve most people’s vision, and certainly the convenience of everyday tasks and hobbies.
In the final session of the morning we discussed the resources that are available to patients with significant sight loss. We are very lucky in Derbyshire and Leicestershire by having Sight Support Derbyshire and Vista. I intend to explore and develop better links with them,
In the afternoon practical lectures were the order of the day! One of the things I am often asked by patients is “how should I put these drops in?” As I’m sure that you know, it isn’t always as easy as it seems! We were shown, and then made to do, various techniques and methods. Some of these certainly made sense, making sure that the drops actually go in the eye rather than down your cheek. Apparently, research has shown up that something like 15% of patients using drops for glaucoma (a serious eye disease) fail to get the drops in the eye, and another 10% put in an extra drop to make sure it went in! It isn’t surprising that the results at the hospital are a bit variable. When you take into account the fact that not all of us can easily squeeze the bottle, and fingers are not as nimble as they used to be it isn’t really surprising. However, there are often ways round the problem, or at least ways to make it easier.
In the final lecture we revisited the various problems that various sight conditions can cause and we were given the chance to put masks on, very powerfully demonstrating the problems and challenges that some people face. Then, whilst still wearing the masks I was able to try using magnifiers and the digital aids, to see what difference these can make. I was particularly amazed by the digital equipment that now available It actually rests on what you want to see, and then appears on the screen. You can make the words bigger (much bigger), change the colour of the type to improve contrast and change the brightness to suit as well. One of them could even be linked to your television so that the print can then fill the TV screen, quite astounding!
I was so impressed with the improvement in magnifier and light technology that I will be getting hold of a number of the more useful magnifiers and stand magnifiers in the near future I look forward to showing you how this new technology can help in so many ways, and can make such a difference in the home and whilst you are out and about.
It was a very worthwhile day for me, I learned a lot about the way that various conditions affect the way that we can deal with our world, and what can be done to make all our lives easier. I was given a lot of advice, help and knowledge on what to advise and how to give the most help to my patients in everyday situations.
If you would like to pop in and have a chat, I look forward to seeing you.