On World Sight Day (Oct 10th), medical professionals at Moorfields explain how care, support and treatment can help visually impaired or blind people lead full and independent lives
9 October 2019, Dubai: Visually impaired or blind people can live full, active and, most importantly, independent lives if they have access to the right treatment, care and support.
This is the vital message experts at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai are hoping to spread throughout the UAE community ahead of World Sight Day on 10 October.
The days of individuals with poor or impaired eyesight being housebound or even dependent on others for help are long gone said Dr. Luisa M. Sastre, Specialist Ophthalmologist in Medical Retina.
“No matter the seriousness of their vision condition, nowadays there is definitely a solution available be it in the form of a smartphone app or more basic assistance such as braille training,” said Dr. Luisa. “There are many optical and non-optical devices that can be catered to their daily lives.
“If a person’s condition is assessed thoroughly and they are dispensed the right devices or given the right training and support, they can lead an independent life very easily.”
Dr. Luisa said the UAE Government has rolled out Smart Technologies that actively assist blind and visually impaired in getting around Dubai using public transport.
“This technology helps People of Determination by converting written information into voice information including schedules and triggers directional signals and alerts for metro gates, stairs, escalators and station gates.
“The technology is compatible with tactile marks on the ground that mark out an area for walking cane users. A lot can be done with software and special apps, like walking canes with GPS tracker, voice to text mode for phones, dedicated walking lanes for visually challenged people in malls, parks, beaches or roads.”
Ophthalmologists at Moorfields regularly treat patients suffering from deteriorating vision or loss of eyesight. While this can be a hugely traumatic experience, Dr. Luisa said Moorfields offers a wide range of support and care services available at the hospital.
These include everything from basic braille training [a form of written language in which characters are represented by patterns of raised dots felt with the fingertips] to comprehensive rehabilitation work where appropriate.
“Support services in things like braille are essential as they enable patients to use a computer or telephone once the keyboard has been adjusted to feature braille,” said Dr. Lusia. “There has also been talk of introducing braille labels to medications in the UAE, which would be a huge benefit.
“Training is available via Moorfields teams of experts for blind and visually impaired patients. This can be very useful to help people overcome problems in their daily routines, particularly with things they took for granted like dressing, putting on make-up, cooking and glare controls for TVs or electronic equipment etc.”
Moorfields prides itself on making its range services available to patients after their condition has been fully assessed by a team eye care specialists, said Dr. Luisa
“Assessment does not stop in the hospital. It needs a team of professionals to deliver good services to the patient in order to help them cope with what can be a very stressful time in their lives.
“Moorfields expert team consists of an ophthalmologist and a low-vision specialist who can determine the cause or a patient’s vision problems and the best course of action for treatment.
“The next step for those with deteriorating vision is to see an occupational therapist or a rehabilitation teacher,” said Dr. Luisa.
“This can also feature a social worker, counselor and assistive technology professional. The combined efforts of these professionals will help to ensure that the loss or vision, or loss of quality of eyesight, is no barrier to leading an active life and that with some adjustments patients can live constructively and independently in their own homes or with family.”
Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai provides world class outpatient diagnostic and treatment for the full range of both surgical and non-surgical related eye conditions, for both adults and children, from basic screenings and eye health checks, to retinal surgery, laser refractive surgery, cataracts, corneal grafts, diabetic retinopathy treatment, squint correction surgery, oculoplastic surgery, genetic eye disease consultations and counseling, and ocular oncology services through permanent and visiting consultants.